Ben Langhinrichs

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Does OOXML support legacy documents better than ODF? Let's find out

Mon 25 Jun 2007, 12:19 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Bob Sutor put a post on his blog called ODF is not open source which elicited a very interesting comment from a gentleman named John Scholes:
I got onto the UK committee slogging its way through the ecma standard on OpenXML by mistake, but I seem to be stuck with it. Echoing what you say above, the thing that irritates me most is that I cannot see any reason for a second ISO/IEC standard in this area. MS claims OpenXML is better for the billions of legacy documents out there in old MS file formats. That would seem to boil down to:
(1) all (or maybe almost all) legacy documents can be satisfactorily converted into OpenXML; and
(2) a substantial (or significant) proportion of legacy documents cannot be satisfactorily converted into ODF.
Both these propositions are essentially questions of fact. So the question is WHERE IS THE DATA? As a bare minimum, can we have a reasonable selection of legacy documents in support of (2) (so that they convert well into OpenXML, but not into ODF).
I recently asked this question on Brian Jones‘ blog and have not yet had any useful answers. Nor have the MS members of the committee come up with anything yet …
As Mr. Scholes points out, we should be able to demonstrate this, so I had an idea.  Let's find documents to prove/disprove whichever contention you want.  I am looking for .doc, .xls and .ppt documents that don't render, or don't render well, in or Notes 8 productivity apps or some other ODF editor, or such documents that don't render, or don't render well, in Microsoft Office 2007 or some other OOXML editor (if you can find one).  There have been reports of documents that don't open in Microsoft Office 2007, but I'm tired of reports.  Let's see some examples.  Similarly, there is much talk of the documents that are better supported by OOXML than in ODF, so lets see some.  Any takers?

If you would like, you can send these to  or just send  a link to a download page.  Supporters of either position are equally welcome, as I just want to see the truth in all of this.  If you like, I can then submit any of these examples to the people considering OOXML as a standard, so let me know if you want me to do so.

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

602.1. John Scholes
(06/25/2007 10:21 AM)

Many thanks for taking this up, Ben. The UK members of the committee would be most interested in any results you can come up with.

The whole point of open standards is that the process is open, so the more this debate can be conducted in public (on the web) the better.

602.2. Stephan H. Wissel
(07/02/2007 06:41 PM)


Would rendering include rendering animations? I guess OO has some catching up to do there. The interesting question would be:

Is information lost when saving as ODF? Means: A presentation animation might look odd, but after a code fix it might work if the data is correct.

:-) stw