quinta-feira, julho 19, 2007


As coisas afinal foram bem piores do que parecia à primeira vista!
Leiam lá o GROKLAW (onde isto já chegou!!!):

"We've seen now reports from Italy and Portugal of what some are describing as a kind of ballot-stuffing on the part of Microsoft and supporters to get Ecma-376 approved as an ISO standard. Trust me when I tell you that you haven't heard the half of it yet. I feel safe in saying that you will never hear the phrase "fast tracking" again, without remembering what you are about to read.

As you know, it's been reported that both Sun and IBM were told there was no room for them to join the committee in Portugal and so they were not allowed to attend the July 16th meeting. A member of that committee, Rui Seabra, has now published his notes from the meeting and given me permission to reproduce them here for you. As you will see, he seems to have had some difficulty being heard; he confirms the Sun/IBM exclusion and shows that it doesn't seem to have any defensible basis; and when you read the technical discussion, I think you will be shocked.

The excuse for not letting them in, according to the notes, was that the room only could hold 20 people, and it was first come, first served. But when this was said, there were already more than 20 in the room. It eventually reached 25, so it seems clear there was room for Sun and IBM. There was an auditorium available they chose not to use. If these notes are accurate, and of course there are other reports confirming some of the details already, I think you will find it disturbing.

You will see in the notes one instance where Stephen McGibbon, identified as an expert for Microsoft on OOXML, for whom there *was* room at the meeting, claimed the following when the question was raised why not merge the two, ODF and Ecma-376, to have one unified ODF standard:

SM: ODF doesn't aim for backward compatibility, like OOXML does, with millions of exsting documents. Doesn't see any problem with co-existence. OASIS rejected Microsoft's proposals and expelled/excluded the Microsoft representative because the proposed changes would add backward compatibility to legacy documents.

It is simply not true, according to my sources, that Microsoft was ever expelled from any ODF meeting or denied an opportunity to submit anything to it. I want you to make a note of the fact that he claims it was a *Microsoft* representative that was excluded. I may swing back by to highlight that in another context someday.

Let me remind you that Microsoft put out a press release on May 18th saying that it had not voted against ODF, so it was free to express itself. To make such a claim now ... well, perhaps someone would like to substantiate this claim? Groklaw is here, if you can.

Microsoft is still free to merge with ODF, from all I know, and I think it's safe to say that the world would benefit if they did, because then there would be no need for these awkward and imperfect translators.

If ODF was made backward compatible with legacy Microsoft proprietary formats, then that would solve the interoperability issues once and for all. If one says that is impossible to achieve 100%, then it goes without saying that it is impossible for the translators too. That's just logic. And if it isn't 100%, it isn't an open standard to me. And in fact, McGibbon is quoted as saying this:

Since ODF is underspecified, Microsoft would need to make proprietary extensions. (BINGO!)

Point blank. Perhaps you answer that translators can be written under NDA, but if that is the argument, then you are saying to me that Ecma-376 is really proprietary still, if the only way to interoperate is by means of NDA, and you are ensuring that 100% interoperability is impossible. Who will let us interoperate with the "proprietary extensions"? Can there be an open standard that must have proprietary extensions to work? And if Microsoft deliberately leaves ODF "underspecified" on purpose, what does that mean to you about Microsoft's interest in interoperability? What legal worries might we all have then? What about control issues? Wouldn't that provide Microsoft with every opportunity to control access and successful interoperability? They are free to do that, if they wish, but can you call that a standard? An open standard, to boot?

And what about the patents on future versions? That question was also raised, as per the notes, and the claim made that Larry Rosen "says it's the best patent promise there is" and that it was copied from Sun's. That is, I believe, hogwash. If you read this by Sun's Simon Phipps about the promise, I think you will have to agree with me that he at least thinks the Microsoft promise is at best questionable.

Is this how standards are normally approved? If so, can we fix it? If Ecma-376 gets "approved" by shoving it through and not allowing interested parties to speak or vote, that just isn't an open standard to me. Is it to you? Yoo hoo, Massachusetts. Are you watching?

Here are the notes. As you read them, ask yourself: if Ecma-376 can only be adopted as a standard like this, is it truly a standard? And observe the questions about openness that were raised at the meeting without satisfying answers being provided. If others on the committee took notes and wish to add them to this article or wish to respond, I am happy to oblige. I sent an email to Mr. McGibbon, to ask him for a response, but I haven't heard back from him by time to publish. But if I do hear anything, I'll add it to the article. The only changes I made were for Geeklog's HTML preferences and with permission any obvious spelling mistakes for English legibility. Note that his version is a wiki, with a request for input from others there, so for the most up-to-date version, you will want to check his page."

Bold's e (BINGO!) da autoria de je.


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