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Comparing XML: ODF, iWork, and MSOOXML

August 31st, 2007 Benjamin Horst

It’s not just ODF vs. MSOOXML in the world today, there are some other XML formats too. There’s UOF from China, and the native XML file format developed by Apple for its iWork suite, that come quickly to mind.

CyberTech Rambler investigates three XML formats in his post iWork XML Format vs ODF vs OOXML Preliminary Thoughts.

He gets inside Apple’s XML format for a close look and seems to be pleased by most of the design choices Apple made:

“What does all this say about Apple? It has the competency to implement a good XML structure for office documents. I cannot help but use this to take a swipe at OOXML. While I can see from a business point of view, participating in OOXML’s ECMA TC45 made sense, from a technical point of view, it tarnishes Apple’s reputation when one considers that it deliberated and approved that lousily-written OOXML in ECMA TC45. Also, since Apple is already brewing such an XML for its own document use, this further confirms my suspicion that Apple is there to ensure it can implement import/export filter only.”

From his perspective, OOXML is the least well-designed of the formats, and while Apple “supports” it as a (readable) format in iWork, it cannot save files into OOXML.

I don’t really care about OOXML format support for iWork, since I don’t think it will gain widespread adoption. However, I think ODF will, and I would like to see Apple’s iWork provide read and write support for ODF.

2007 Desktop Linux Survey

August 30th, 2007 Benjamin Horst has released the results of its 2007 Desktop Linux Survey.

It’s clear that Linux on the desktop is a healthy and fast-growing market segment. Publicity and interest in the survey was significantly larger than last year: “This year’s survey produced 38,500 votes versus 14,535 votes over the same number of days in a similar survey one year ago.”

Specific questions on preferred Linux distributions (Ubuntu, followed by SUSE), desktop environments (GNOME pulls ahead), web browsers (Firefox dominates) and email clients (Thunderbird, with Evolution not far behind) provided some useful data reference points in this quick zeitgeist of the Linux realm.

Full results are available at the 2007 Desktop Linux Market Survey page.

Chandler Hub Update

August 29th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Chandler Hub, the online demo of OSAF’s Chandler Server, has now been updated to version 0.7.0.

“Chandler Hub now demonstrates more pieces of the Chandler vision. In particular, the Hub now supports not only tasks, but Chandler item “stamping” which lets an event also be a task and vice versa. Your tasks and events can be viewed and “triaged” on a unified web dashboard.”

From my use of it over the past day or so, I’ve been impressed. I have long been interested in the concepts behind Chandler, and now to see them start to take concrete form is very interesting.

The project is seeking interested users for beta testers, as real-world usage is the best way to see if the concept and the implementation of the concept are viable.

“You are invited to use Chandler Hub for daily usage or testing of Cosmo 0.7.0. We’re a small service, but we will do our best to keep your data secure and always available for your use.”

Zoho Writer Updated

August 28th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Zoho Writer, the online word processor with (in my opinion) the best interface, has recently released an update with support for comments and its first step toward offline support using the open source Google Gears framework.

Zoho’s blog covers the release in Offline Support & Comments in Zoho Writer.

“In Zoho Writer, you’ll now see a ‘Go Offline’ link on the top. Clicking on the link for the first time will prompt you to install Google Gears. Once the installation is complete (and your browser restarted), click on ‘Go Offline’ to make your documents (both personal and shared docs) available offline. By default 15 documents are downloaded to be available offline. You can change the options by clicking on the down arrow beside ‘Go Offline’ link to download more documents. To go back online, click on ‘Go Online’ and you’ll be redirected to the online version of Zoho Writer.”

Note that this version provides read-only mode while offline, with read-and-write offline capabilities planned for a later update.

Zoho Writer has a new comments feature as well. See their blog post linked above for a video demo.

NeoOffice 2.2.1 Released

August 27th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

NeoOffice 2.2.1 for Mac OS X is available to the world starting today. (Slashdot also picks up the release.)

The project site announces “This release is based on the 2.2.1 code and includes all of the new 2.2.1 features. NeoOffice 2.2.1 can be downloaded here.”

NeoOffice is based on, but unfortunately there have been disagreements between the two projects. The official OOo Mac porting project has picked up a lot of steam recently, and has received fulltime employees paid by Sun, so if I can speak for the wider community, all we want is for these two projects to carry on amicably. While they have different goals and purposes, there is still a lot of common ground on which I personally would like to see ongoing collaboration.

Congratulations to the NeoOffice team for today’s release!

OOoCon Barcelona on the Horizon

August 24th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Charles-H. Schulz mirrors the official press release for the upcoming OOoCon in Barcelona next month.

My own presentation will be held on Wednesday afternoon and is titled Case Study: Guerrilla Advertising in the New York Metro Newspaper.

This is planned to be the biggest OOoCon yet, and I am very excited to be attending for the first time!

Bug Beta Begins

August 23rd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Got a note from my friends at Bug Labs about the launch of their beta program.

“We need to test out the SDK, the environment, the interfaces, the APIs, and, yup, you guessed it, the hardware too. Now to set expectations right off the bat: we don’t have nearly enough units to go around (yet), so there’ll be quite a bit of testing in a software-only environment (which is a-okay, as we have a full emulator that gives you a Virtual BUG!). Also, we’re going to use a bit of a “staged” approach, so we will start small, then slowly expand the pool of testers as time goes on.”

For now, the units are scarce and the company needs to ramp up its ability to collect and process feedback, so they are wisely starting with a limited beta. You need to sign up on the site for consideration. But if you’re a hardware and software hacker with an idea for Bug’s modular platform, get on it!

Children’s XO Reviews on OLPC News

August 22nd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The site OLPC News has been fairly critical of the OLPC project, but often in a constructive way. And it has been a regular and detailed source of news on the project for a very long time now.

Recently, OLPC News posted a collection of links titled . They cover the experiences of several kids (in the USA) first introduced to the XO and asked to play with it or learn from it without any formal explanation of its workings.

In the conditions in which it was tested, the XO did very well. The kids figured it out and accomplished their tasks and seemed to enjoy working with the machine.

OLPC News asks some followup questions that are not yet answered, focusing on whether kids in developing countries, who have far less experience with computers and electronics, will also pick it up with the same ease. Currently, this is unknown, but we should see some test results from Nigeria fairly soon.

Poland Against MSOOXML

August 21st, 2007 Benjamin Horst

I hate to keep writing about Microsoft, since the company is just not doing anything very interesting (in a positive sense) anymore. However, their vendetta against ODF does have a big impact on open data formats and their standardization around the world. So far, MS has delayed ODF’s triumph, but it has not and probably will not be able to stop the inevitable.

On that topic, another national standards body will probably be voting against OOXML standardization: Poland. announces a technical committee has voted by 80% against accepting MSOOXML as a standard.

It’s never quite this simple, and in fact, the original committee that produced this vote had been reduced to an advisory role. Now it’s on to another committee to make the final decision. Let’s hope they follow the first!

ODF vs MSOOXML on the Web

August 20th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The following is not scientific, but it is a way to roughly gauge the current relative usage of file formats in the ongoing global contest. Based on the number of ODF versus MSOOXML files available on the web, ODF is steamrolling the competition, writes Ben Langhinrichs.

“In eight months since Office 2007 was released to the general public (10 months since release to enterprise customers), there are under 2,000 of these office documents posted on the web. In three months, 13,400 more ODF documents have been added to the web, with only 1,329 OOXML documents added. It is hard to spin ten times as many ODF documents added as OOXML documents, especially as 451 (34%) of those new documents were added on That isn’t what I would call good traction for the overwhelmingly dominant office suite.”

“And all of this before IBM rolls out Notes 8 with the ODF productivity editors included as part of the package.” (That rollout started last week, so give it time to reach critical mass, and we’ll see what additional impact it has had.)

Half the fight is in perception, so information like this can help to sway fence-sitters and skeptics toward adopting ODF, who might otherwise have given up due to their fear of institutionalized momentum for the previous market leader.