Glyn Moody takes me to task – with some justification – for suggesting that Word/OOXML is a useful format for archival.
I should make it clear that I am not religiously opposed to PDF, just to the present incarnation of PDF and the mindset that it engenders in publishers, repositarians, and readers. (Authors generally do not use PDF).
He then discusses in detail what the problems are and what solutions might be. Then he drops this clanger:
[PMR] I’m not asking for XML. I’m asking for either XHTML or Word (or OOXML)
Word? OOXML??? Come on, Peter, you want open formats and you’re willing to accept one of the most botched “standards” around, knocked up for purely political reasons, that includes gobs of proprietary elements and is probably impossible for anyone other than Microsoft to implement? *That’s* open? I don’t think so….
XHTML by all means, and if you want a document format the clear choice is ODF – a tight and widely-implemented standard. Anything but OOXML.
PMR: I don’t think I would disagree with your analysis of OOXML. My point is that – at present – we have few alternatives. Authors use Word or LaTeX. We can try to change them – and Peter Sefton (and we) are trying to do this with the ICE system. But realistically we aren’t going to change them any time soon.
My point was that if the authors deposit Word we can do something with it which we cannot do anything with PDF. It may be horrible, but it’s less horrible than PDF. And it exists.
I may be optimstic but it can also be converted to ODT. See the WP entry:
Microsoft Office does not natively support OpenDocument. Microsoft has created the Open XML translator project to allow the conversion of documents between Office Open XML and OpenDocument. As a result of this project, Microsoft finances the ODF add-in for Word project on SourceForge. This project is an effort by several of Microsoft’s partners to create a plugin for Microsoft Office that will be freely available under a BSD license. The project released version 1.0 for Microsoft Word of this software in January 2007Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint in December of the same year. Sun Microsystems has created the competing OpenDocument plugin for Microsoft Office 2000, XP, and 2003 that supports Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents. …
It is our intention that anything we do in this space will be open and as far as we understand it compatible with both OOXML and ODT.
That probably hasn’t made it better but hopefully it’s clearer.