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Stuck in the past

By nature I am an optimist. I also believe that people's motivations are generally honourable and beliefs genuinely held. So when I disagree with someone I try hard to understand their world view - their Weltanschauung. I try to avoid cynicism about people's motivations.

When building the knowledge base of expert systems there's a technique used called knowledge elicitation that essentially involves structured interviews with domain experts. When two or more experts disagree it typically indicates a hidden assumption, and the skill is to tease these out and develop the decision tree.

Applying this line of thought to the latest round of blog posts from IBM's Bob Sutor - "why OOXML will ultimately fail" and Rob Weir - "Cannibalism", perhaps it's possible to tease out the hidden assumption to see why IBM's VP of Standards and cohort are so bombastically opposed to this open standard?

Well here goes. The first major clue is in Rob's question ...

 "But if you are using Office 2000, and happy with it, what is the reason to move to OOXML? Why not remain using the binary formats? What justifies the migration?"

Rob's correctly asking about migration to OpenXML not a later version of Office and I think genuinely doesn't understand what would justify such a migration.

His weltanschauung is stuck in the past.

I posit that Rob assumes we're talking about documents as they've been more or less since personal productivity tools started to be used. Sure they're now serialised in an XML format, but essentially there still the same documents, created for the same reasons, consumed in the same way.

That's not what OpenXML is about Rob, and to understand our world view, and the world view of your hypothetical CTO you need to understand - we see a "New World of Documents" - OpenXML enables powerful integration of customers’ own XML data and formats within documents. It enables data interoperability rather than forcing customers to confine their use of XML to existing document schemas.

Rick Jelliffe understood this straight away, to quote him ....

"But I think it is simplistic to think that MicroSoft has not been very aware that while their binary formats provide them some benefit from lock-in, the binary formats also prevent a lot of integration opportunities. And Microsoft became successful by piggybacking on their system integrator networks."

OpenXML allows our customers, partners and our competitors to build systems that integrate documents in new ways Rob - OpenXML means more efficient and, perhaps more importantly, more effective solutions - and the bottom line, as Ronald Coase observed, means GROWTH. That's why there's such a focus on developers Rob - because documents just changed!

Now look at Mr Sutor's post. He's got the same world view as Rob. Bob clearly sees the document format debate as a zero sum game - for ODF to win OpenXML must lose, or vice-versa. But it isn't a zero sum game Bob. IBM Global Services will use OpenXML to build customer solutions - probably without any Microsoft products - the OpenXML files will be able to be consumed by StarOffice, OpenOffice, Corel Office, Microsoft Office, Gnumeric, and dare I suggest probably even Notes and Workplace Bob.

We've entered a new world of documents - and OpenXML will make a lot more sense to you Bob and Rob when you realise that.


Doug Mahugh said:

It's been quite a year for those who have been blogging about the Open XML file formats. Here's a look

# December 31, 2007 2:43 AM

Noticias externas said:

It's been quite a year for those who have been blogging about the Open XML file formats. Here's

# December 31, 2007 3:14 AM

Gerhard´s Marktbeobachtungen said:

Über den internationalen Standard für Office Datei Formate wurde in den letzten Wochen und Monaten viel

# January 5, 2008 1:23 PM said:

Earlier today the Burton Group released a free (registration required) report authored by Guy Creese

# January 12, 2008 1:07 AM said:

Well well well, a few days ago I wondered out loud whether IBM was planning to make an announement about

# January 24, 2008 10:37 PM

Doug Mahugh said:

It's been quite a year for those who have been blogging about the Open XML file formats. Here's a look

# July 1, 2011 1:40 AM