Ben Langhinrichs

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July, 2007
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.

Mon 9 Jul 2007, 11:06 PM
Rob Weir has an excellent essay on The Formula for Failure, which takes a closer look at Microsoft's Office Open XML (aka OOXML or Ecma standard 376) and finds a number of deficiencies.  While a few of these may be nitpicky, others are quite clearly flawed in critical ways.  His essay clearly refutes the argument that OOXML has a fully defined formula specification while ODF does not.  ODF is quite clearly further behind in defining the formula specifications for its spreadsheets, but it seems likely given their process that they will wind up ahead, especially since Microsoft and Ecma have seemed so resistant to making even very obvious modifications such as removing bit flags from the spec and replacing them with individual flags.

I highly recommend that anybody interested in the file formats take a look at Rob's latest work.

Update: The Open Malaysia blog has an excellent follow up called Mathematically Incorrect showing a very specific example, and how the slap dash approach by Microsoft and the Ecma standards people has led to serious inadequacies in the OOXML specs.  I recommend reading it in its entirety.

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