[Linux-aus] Australian Government Desktop Standard mandates OOXML??

Jeff Waugh jdub at bethesignal.org
Thu Jan 20 17:21:07 EST 2011

On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:06, Terry Dawson <tjd at animats.net> wrote:
> ITWire reports that the Australian Department of Finance are intending to
> mandate OOXML as the document standard for whole of government.
> *
> http://www.itnews.com.au/News/245276,australia-mandates-microsofts-open-office-xml.aspx
> *<http://www.itnews.com.au/News/245276,australia-mandates-microsofts-open-office-xml.aspx>

Thankfully that's itnews, not the objectionable itwire. :-)

They've required that compliant operating environments include an
application which can read and write ECMA-376, but not exclusively. Due to
the prevalence of such documents throughout government, it makes sense as a
common *internal* interchange format. At least until the market (or policy)
problem with standardised formats is fixed.

A few thoughts:

   - This is a Common Operating Environment COE/SOE specification. Don't
   expect innovation or visions for the future here. Expect the terrible
   drudgery of standardisation, squeezing the common blood out of a many-headed
   stone, etc. I may have mixed a metaphor there. :-)
   - I suspect that use of the term "ECMA-376" is almost entirely an
   arse-covering exercise, when what they really mean is "DOCX and friends
   (including DOC and friends!) created with Office 2007".
   - ECMA-376 should only be referred to as OOXML by the most charitable of
   commentators and/or partisan hacks. It's the fish that John West (ISO)
   rejected, and for good reason. ECMA accepted what is essentially an XML
   serialisation of the binary Office formats.
   - But that's a silver lining: You're more likely to have a compliant
   implementation of ECMA-376 (or thereabouts) than ISO-29500, whichever vendor
   you go with.
   - Pretty embarrassing putting a globally rejected, piece of shit,
   bought-and-paid-for "standard" on your COE document! Would have been more
   honest to just say "Office 2007 compatible binary and XML formats". :-)

Bottom line: I'm betting someone thought a standards number sounded better
than mentioning a certain vendor by name. Oops.

- Jeff
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