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A case study in open XML document standards Rick Jelliffe. Overview of Open XML . Overview. Why Open XML? Controversy! Current status of Ecma 376 at ISO Why are standards important? What are the different standards bodies for? Introduction to Ecma 376 Adoption issues.

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A case study in open xml document standards rick jelliffe l.jpg

A case study in open XML document standards Rick Jelliffe

Overview of Open XML

Overview l.jpg


  • Why Open XML?

  • Controversy!

  • Current status of Ecma 376 at ISO

  • Why are standards important?

  • What are the different standards bodies for?

  • Introduction to Ecma 376

  • Adoption issues

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(Based on slides by courtesy of Microsoft)

Why Open XML?

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Achieve industry alignment using standardized technologies.

Enable data interoperability between documents, applications and systems.

Capture and reuse information to and from many data sources.

Build intelligent applications that improve data context and quality.

Importance of Interoperability

Shared service oriented architecture

(fx http, XML, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI)


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Interoperability for DocumentsThe role of XML-based document formats in the Microsoft® Office system

Business Process Efficiency

Improved Data Access

Business requirements

Company standards

Customer details, Costs

Web service


intelligent receipt

Efficient capture

Validated information

Query & extract





Document Assembly

Searching &



Auto-creating a

polished document


XML structure

Data and presentation



RFP Content


Document Archival

Archived & consumed long into the future

without vendor-specific clients or applications

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XML documents are the future

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XML-based formats enable you to do things you couldn’t before

  • Better value from existing infrastructure

    • Information security

    • Regulatory and process compliance

    • Information integration

    • Retention, discovery and content management

    • Documents as digital assets – what are you worth?

    • Legacy documents & archives

    • Lifecycle cost vs. Implementation cost

Documents that manage themselves

Managing documents with systems

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Example Solutions

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Enabling the future without sacrificing the past

  • Understanding IT impact of XML-based formats

    • Application compatibility

    • Layout and rendering fidelity

    • Deployment & migration

    • Existing solutions / integrations

    • Storage & bandwidth

Enabling the future

Preserving Legacy

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Different scenarios of XML-based formats

  • Past

    • preservation and archiving

  • Present

    • fidelity versus interchange

  • Future

    • document engineering and systems integration

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Briefly, the sensational part…


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  • Open XML developed (too fast, too recently) to stop ODF adoption

  • Ecma is a second-rate “rent-a-standard” organization

  • Not open standard

  • Three month review too little time

  • Open XML contradicts other ISO standards

  • ISO officials bribed or pressured

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Quick Responses

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Why I support Open XML

  • Document processing systems need published, stable standards

  • Plurality: spectrum of interoperability

  • Technical excellence

  • Engaging Microsoft

  • Pro-Open XML does not = anti-ODF!

  • Cross-breeding

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Ecma 376 at ISO

Current Status

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Four Phases of Standards

  • Development

  • Drafting

  • Ratification

  • Maintenance

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Typical: ISO Schematron

  • Development

    • By individual

    • 5 years

  • Drafting

    • By editor appointed by ISO/IEC SC34 WG1committee

    • 2 year

  • Ratification

    • 1year

  • Maintenance

    • New version in preparation

    • 5 year ISO review

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Fast Track: ISO Open XML

  • Development

    • By Microsoft

    • 3 years

  • Drafting

    • By editor appointed by Ecma TC45 committee

    • 1 year

  • Ratification

    • 1 year ?

  • Maintenance

    • Through Ecma ?

    • 5 year ISO review

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Status at ISO

  • Administrative review: 1 month √

    • Ecma response: +1 month √

    • ISO response: +1 month √

  • Draft review: 5 months …

  • Draft ballot: 2 months

    • Collection and review

    • Ballot resolution: + 2 months

  • Final Draft review & ballot: +1 month

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Why are they important?

Technical Standards

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The basis of the internet economy

Standards for:

  • Character sets

  • Data and connection protocols

  • Web locations and resource metadata

  • Media: HTML, XML, JPEG, etc

  • Web services

  • Vocabularies

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What is a technical standard?

  • An agreement

  • Between participating stakeholders and experts

  • With a market requirement

  • In a particular form

  • Developed with a fair process

  • With appropriate licensing and IP status

  • Suitable for public adoption

  • Periodically reviewed for maintenance or withdrawal

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What are they for?

  • Library of technologies

  • Niche and major markets

  • Corporate and regulatory adoption

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  • ISO processes

  • Secretariat tasked to keep process in order, not to do the work of committees or usurp the votes of NBs

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Are standards laws?

  • Contrast with technical standards for health and safety

  • Legislators may adopt voluntary standards

  • Governments may be under treaty obligations, to promote standards, but need economic proof

  • With overlapping standards, no obligation to allow all of them

  • Standard as barrier to trade ?

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Can standards overlap?

  • ISO 8879 example?

    • Morphs into HTML at IETF the W3C

  • ISO Book 12083?

    • Replaced by OASIS Docbook


    • Morphed into XSL at W3C


    • From Adobe


    • From W3C


    • From OASIS

  • ISO Office Open XML

    • From Ecma

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What are they do?

Technical Standards Bodies

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  • NB – national

  • ISO – international

  • IEC – electrical

  • IEEE – electronic

  • IETF – internet

  • Unicode – characters

  • W3C – web

  • OASIS – information

  • Ecma – industry

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Co-operation and Competition

  • Example of SGML and XML

    • ISO -> W3C -> ISO

  • Example of DSDL Character Repertoire

    • W3C -> ISO

  • Example of Schematron assertions

    • ISO -> W3C

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  • Secretariat

  • JTC1

  • SC34

  • WG1

  • National bodies

  • Liasons

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The Office Open XML standard

Ecma 376

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Ecma Office Open XML

  • Specifications published by Ecma International TC-45.

  • Freely available for download and implementation

  • TC-45 is comprised of many companies, chaired by Microsoft – Apple, Toshiba, Novell, Statoil, and others

  • Microsoft offers the Open Specification Promise to alleviate IP-related concerns for the Open XML formats

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Five Parts + Schemas

  • Introduction

  • Open Packaging Conventions

  • Primer

  • Reference

    • WordprocessingML

    • SpreadsheetML

    • DrawingML

    • Presentation ML

    • VML (legacy)

    • SharedML

  • Extensibility

  • Schemas

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Very large!

Ecma 376 (2006):

  • 4000 normative pages

    • Detailed: 50 pages of border illustrations

    • Repetitive: type definitions

  • 2000 informativepages

    • More tutorial than normal ISO style

ODF 1.0 (2006):

  • 760 normative pages

    ODF 1.1 (2007)

    ODF 1.2 (2008)

    ODF 1.3 (2009)?

  • 0 informative pages

    Plus non-standard

    • SVG 720p

    • MathML 660

    • SMIL 530

    • Open Formula 370

    • XForms 150

    • XLink 35

    • ZIP

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Ecma Office Open XML Formats

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Open XML Formats Architecture Modular format improves developer capabilities with minimal user impact

Office “file”

Operates identically to any other Windows desktop file. User sees and interacts with the desktop file exactly as they do with today.

Internal operation

Different types of data within each file stored as discreet, ZIP-compressed XML components

Users would not see these components unless they un-ZIP the file to view the document parts

Applications and systems could modify and extract individual parts without using Office applications

The corruption or absence of any part would not prohibit the file from being opened

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Adoption Issues

(Slides by courtesy of Microsoft)

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Adoption in major Office suites

  • 2007 Microsoft Office system - Default Save Format is Open XML (+ free updates for Office 2000, XP, 2003) – Dec 2006/Jan 2007

  • Open Office – Novell announcement of support of Open XML in Open Office – Novell edition

  • Corel announcement of support of Open XML - Availability mid 2007

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Office XP, 2003 will open, edit and save new Office formats

Will recognize new Word, Excel and PowerPoint file format extensions

Enables users to Open XML Formats across multiple versions

Windows 2000 SP4 and later can convert between binary and Open XML Formats

Office 2007 users can change the default file format if desired

Current .doc, .xls, .ppt file formats will be supported in 2007 Office system

Default file format can be set by users during deployment or after

Advanced policy controls for enabling and disabling the use of specific formats

File Format CompatibilityEnsuring Free Document Exchange With Prior Office Releases

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