The OOXML versus ODF discussions are getting more intense and either side lays out the same arguments why the other one are better than the other. Some arguments are valid - but some are definitley not!

Why do the ODF side always use the “it’s to much to read” argument!? Just take a look at Andrew Updegroves open letter to the state of Massachusetts, two of his five points is about this argument!

The Office Open XML format (ECMA-376) covers about 6.500 pages and the Open Document Format (ISO/IEC 26399) about 700 pages. Yes, 6.000 pages is a lot to read during a fast-track process, but I still don’t think it’s a legal argument for turning OOXML down.

Let’s take a closer look on the page count. OOXML is divided into five parts which covers it all:

  • Fundamentals - 165 pages
  • Open Packaging Conventions - 125 pages
  • Primer - 466 pages
  • Markup Language Reference - 5.766 pages
  • Markup Compatibility and Extensibility - 34 pages

As you can see most of the pages are in the markup reference, and it’s a rather big document. But if you take a closer look to it and compare it to the markup reference of the ODF document you will see that the OOXML reference is much more rich in it’s description of the markup used than the ODF and it contains more samples and illustrations, which of course occupies more space but instead gives the reader better information.

When you are there looking and comparing the documents, put the documents side-by-side and you will notice that the OOXML uses more whitespace and another line spacing - which also affects the number of printed pages!

ODF with one 706 page document uses and references the SVG standard for vector based graphics - and that’s a document with another 719 pages, then you have the MathML specification with another 665 pages and so on with all the other external references.

Some other points that is of interest in this size matters argument is that OOXML covers the spreadsheet forumlas more extensive than ODF. This is what Miguel de Icaza wrote in january:

OOXML devotes 324 pages of the standard to document the formulas and functions.

The original submission to the ECMA TC45 working group did not have any of this information. Jody Goldberg and Michael Meeks that represented Novell at the TC45 requested the information and it eventually made it into the standards. I consider this a win, and I consider those 324 extra pages a win for everyone (almost half the size of the ODF standard).

Depending on how you count, ODF has 4 to 10 pages devoted to it. There is no way you could build a spreadsheet software based on this specification.

If you start counting and taking all aspects into consideration I think that the amount to read is about the same - so there goes the size matters argument down the drain…

Let’s just end this stupid discussion. I think there is room for two standards in this area right now and what is your opinion?