Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Open Document Foundation Closes Shop

In the battle for XML-based Document Formats, there were two: The Open Document Format (ODF), overseen by OASIS, heralded by Open Office, and Microsoft’s OOXML. I’ve always felt that ODF was a superior format, and that many of the decisions made with OOXML were suboptimal.

All this changed when the Director of Business Affairs for the Open Document Foundation, Sam Hiser, posted a scathing review of the direction ODF was going. While this was not necessarily a direct attack on ODF, but rather on the direction that Sun was taking Star Office, and thus Open Office, it led to the Foundation backing out from it’s support of ODF, in favor of the w3c’s (Compound Document Format)[], which appears to be a potential replacement for XHTML.

The impression I was left with, was that the Foundation felt that their efforts to make ODF and OOXML work together were being ignored. Personally, I think this was reasonable, as we don’t need to build a lousy XML-based office format by combining the two formats. However, Open Office does have a need to be able to at least load OOXML files, so that was a resonable usage of Sun and the team’s time. Dropping ODF with the intent of extending CDF was a childish political move, one that I don’t think the Foundation stood any chance at succeeding with.

It didn’t help when the w3c argued that CDF was in no way shape or form a suitable replacement for ODF. Not only that, but the Foundation was trying to shape CDF without joining the CDF working group. Because the Foundation wasn’t the sole controller of the future of ODF, they chose to abandon it, and it’s led to their closing, since there isn’t an accpetable alternative out there. Luckily, they didn’t try to fork the specification to take it in their own direction.

Good Bye, Open Document Foundation. The ODF will be fine without you, and I just want to thank you for not completely killing the format in your childish tantrum.