Emerging Tech

OOXML or OOPS? Microsoft blunders in its open document specification


A performance architect for a Fortune Fifty corporation deconstructed Microsoft's MS-OOXML specification for open documents and found many, many poor definitions and more just plain wrong formulas.

Rob Weir reports in his blog how Redmond allows mixing of radians and degrees in seven functions (remember the Mars Climate Lander, anyone?), doesn't define which units of measure with the same name (for an Imperial pint is not a U. S. pint, as any serious beer drinker can tell you) are used. Then, there are formulas that are clearly incorrect, like AVEDEV and ZTEST, as well as formulas which work OK Stateside but fail in the Middle East (NETWORKDAYS doesn't calculate well if the Sabbath starts at Friday sundown).

Maybe no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft software, but if you rely on its software, you just might crash... not just your PC, but your space probe. Weir dryly quotes a very relevant aphorism:

What do you call a scientist whose calculations are off by 50%? A cosmologist.
What do you call an accountant whose calculations are off by 1%? A crook.

Ironically, this revelation follows half a year of Microsofties' criticism of the alleged inadequacies of ODF. Given this revelation regarding the Emporer's New Algorithms, Free Software Foundation Europe has six simple questions regarding this proposal that seem eminently rational to ask, and I hope you agree.

Should Microsoft be allowed to enact this collection of Mars Climate Lander-grade bloopers into an ISO standard?

5 comments
bergson126
bergson126

What IS the translation ( In english , please) of OOXML?

K7AAY
K7AAY

A cup, an ounce, an inch, a week, a month, all have different definitions in different nations; even metric measurements differ across boundaries. Should a 'standard' which does not allow for these differences be made an ISO standard?

putchavn
putchavn

It must serve a purpose. It must be comprehensive, correct, clear and implementable. It should enable resolution of conflicts / contentions related to the theme of the standard. Above all its use should benefit the community of users. From the report OOXML is far from it. The members should work on refining and improving the draft standard instead of rushing to adopt a defective draft proposal.

1bn0
1bn0

Could you please explain where this is applicable. I've been using the metric system for 30 years. I have never heard of the measurements being anything other than what they are defined to be. The standard reference for each unit has been redefined at various times. However the reference did not change the actual value of the unit of measure. It simply defined a different reference that could be used to arrive at the value.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I hope the ISO rejects the MS file format until it's either open source and standard across all possible nations or they drop the marketing tool all together and use ODF like anyone else who truly things the end user should control there own data. By that same token, the ODF needs to be standardized much more still too. Even ODF is different slightly depending on which editor you use.