FSFE ignoring OOXML?

Bernhard Reiter reiter at fsfeurope.org
Tue Apr 24 10:34:57 UTC 2007

On Tuesday 24 April 2007 10:22, MJ Ray wrote:
> There's just been a call for help on a debian mailing list.
> In amongst it, it includes the phrase "I did not get a response
> from the Free Software Foundation Europe."  What's happened?

Torsten is in close contact with some FSFE people, 
so it is unlikely that he did not get an answer at all.

> > From bounce-debian-project=mjr=phonecoop.coop at lists.debian.org Tue Apr 24
> > 06:41:23 2007 Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 07:41:08 +0200
> > From: "Torsten Werner" <twerner at debian.org>
> > Reply-To: mail.twerner at googlemail.com
> > To: debian-project at lists.debian.org
> > Subject: ballot period for ECMA 376 / DIS 29500 (aka OOXML)
> > List-Id: <debian-project.lists.debian.org>

> >
> > I want to remind you that the ballot period about Microsoft/ECMA
> > office document format  runs until the beginning of September and
> > national ISO bodies have to vote about the fasttrack process.

BTW: Note that using "fasttrack" is a bit confusing, 
the ballot period is not faster than others, as far as I know.

> > Microsoft is very active in this process, free software people are not
> > as far as I know, e.g. I did not get a response from the Free Software
> > Foundation Europe. 

FSFE is active on OOXML.
(e.g. see Georg's blog entry: 
http://fsfe.org/en/fellows/greve/freedom_bits/update_on_openxml_vs_odf )

But we lack the resources to take all possible actions.
Getting people into all commissions and doing the work there is very
resources intensive in terms of money and time.
Sometimes there are even entrance fees.

> > The risk of a successful standardization of OOXML 
> > is the marginalization of ODF (ISO 26300) which would make migrations
> > from non-free software to free software more difficult in the long
> > run.


Personally I doubt that preventing an ISO standardisation 
is worth very high costs, because
a) just because something is standardised does not make it a good format
b) the standardisation process has some problems which are even harder to fix,
   so it is doubtfull that standardisation of further office formats
   can be prevented ultimately at all.

Most "no" votes will have a condition to be turned to yes if it is resolved.
My expecation is that the good work of the following document will
result in a lot of strong conditions:

c) This is not the only thing that prevents Free Software adoption
d) We need to prepare for adoption of improved formats coming out of
   Free Software processes as well, having arguments in place that
   only ISO standardised documents are good might be counter productive later.

Again this is my personal opinion, others FSFE people have different views.

> > If you are interested in preventing that scenario please take action
> > *now*. Contact your national ISO bodies and tell them your interests.
> > In Germany you can become a member of DIN's working group. I can
> > explain the details if someone is interested. Maybe that is possible
> > in other countries, too.
> >
> > A good starting point for more information is
> > http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070123071154671 .

It is good that Torsten tries to motivate more people to help.


FSFE -- Coordinator Germany                                   (fsfeurope.org)
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