domingo, 4 de noviembre de 2012

Standards and Open Standards

When I write something about standards, usually is about C++. This post is not the case, so if you were reading this looking for C++ info, stop now.

A few hours ago, a good friend of mine (@jmdodero) wrote this tweet:

El MAP dice que docx es abierto! Standards for ES Public Administrations …

In English: "The Spanish Public Administration ministry says that docx is open! Standards for ES (Spanish) Public Adminstrations". The link points to an official document from the Spanish Government approving the Technical Standard of Standards Catalogue Interoperability. In essence this document establishes a list of standards to be used for the Spanish Public Administration.

I'll save you the legal details. However one of the items in the list is:

  • Category: File formats - Image and/or Text.
  • Common Name: Strict Open XML
  • Formal Name: ISO/IEC 29500-1:2012 Information technology -- Document description and Processing languages -- Office Open XML File Formats -- Part 1: Fundamentals and Markup Language Reference - Strict
  • Type: Open
  • Version (minimum accepted): 2012
  • Extension: docx, xlsx, pptx
A few minutes later. I answered:

ISO/IEC 29500-1:2012 y ECMA-376. Las dos públicamente disponibles = estándar abierto. ¿Cuál es el problema?

In English:

IOS/IEC 29500-1:2012 and ECMA-376. Both publicly available = open standards ¿What is the problem?

I should not be a typical suspect. I mean, I run a Linux laptop and 2 android devices. Many know that I think that the best editor is vi (vim is ok, too) and a really like LaTeX. However in a few minutes I got the following answers:

  • @jdgarciauc3m when you save a document in MS Office 2010 […] you are not saving them in the advertised OpenXML format This document will hence NOT be properly readable by other software
  • @jdgarciauc3m que no existe ninguna implementación del standard, ni siquiera MS Office lo soporta
    • There exists no implementation of the standard, even MS Office does not support it.
Well, I thought that it was time to clarify what a I think. I'll try to do so:

Question 1: Is ISO/IEC 29500-1:2012 an open standard?

Well, this is the easiest question. By definition any ISO/IEC standard is an International Standard. I could explain this in more detail, but for now let's agree on this.

The definition of "Open Standard" is "a standard that is publicly available". As any other ISO standard, ISO/IEC 29500-1:2012 is available from

Question 2: Does MS Office 2010 fulfill the ISO/IEC 29500-1:2012?

I hope not.


It is almost impossible that a product shipped in 2010 fulfills a standard that has been approved in 2012. The only possibility I see is that people at Microsoft had a time machine. And, I do not think they have (otherwise sometimes they would have made different business decissions), but, paraphrasing Michael Ende, that is a different story and must be told in a different time.

Question 3: If there is no existing implementation of the standadrd does it make sens to put it in the catalogue?

Yes. Let me explain why.

First. No one implements a file format. What one can implement is a tool for processing files (generate them, render them, ...) in such a format. However it may be true (I do not know and I do not mind), that no existing tool correctly processes the format.

What the Spanish official document is saying is that if a public agency wants to receive text documents from another public agency or a citizen, it must say which formats is willing to accept. By the way, ODT (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) , PDF (ISO/IEC 32000-1:2008) and PDF/A(ISO/IEC 19005-1:2005 and ISO/IEC 19005-2:2011) are also in the same list.

So, the point is. We have a format in the list and when some tools are available it is possible that an agency includes in the list that format.

I still do not see the problem.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario