Daily Archives: March 21, 2008

Let’s be clear: The Apache Software Foundation has no position on OOXML.

Microsoft’s OOXML, and in particular the way its going about trying to create a standard of it, is one of the big controversies in IT today. Lots of people have strong views on it.

The ASF doesn’t.

Some of us would prefer it if partisan commentators respected our non-combatent status[1], and didn’t try to hint at an ASF stance on the issue.

The ASF has no reason to hold an official position, for or against OOXML, nor for or against Microsoft’s standardisation efforts. We haven’t even discussed it in the members forum.

Of course, individual members will hold their own views, and it may be relevant to some ASF projects. But even in the vanishingly unlikely event of a view being unanimous across the entire membership and all the projects, that doesn’t make an ASF position.

OK, so why am I writing about a nonexistent position?

Yesterday, the ASF was mentioned in the groklaw feed. So I followed it to the article, and it turns out that on March 19th, a senior IBM employee blogged on the subject. He doesn’t tell any outright lies, but his use of language implicitly enlists the ASF into IBM’s position in opposition to Microsoft. That pisses me off.

Following up on that, I discovered that Microsoft Italy published a press release on March 18th, in which forthcoming support for OOXML in an Apache project is announced[2]. Now at least one Microsoft blogger in english has been spotted spinning “Apache will support OOXML”. Oh dear.

So within two days, that’s both sides dragging the Apache name into their dispute, albeit with a measure of plausible deniability. Wouldn’t it be good if both Microsoft’s and IBM’s official channels could issue statements disowning their respective bloggers’ use of the Apache name?

Oh, and how much here is pure coincidence? The IBM blogger starts by saying noone has claimed ASF support for OOXML yet. That’s the day after the Microsoft press release!

[1] I was going to say “neutrality”, but even that could be seen as a position.

[2] AIUI it’s really more limited: MS and SourceSense entered an agreement to do some work in that direction. Of course I have no inside information on the deal.