November 23, 2007
Recently, a number of articles have raised concern in various communities about the GNOME Foundation’s membership of ECMA and participation in TC45-M — the technical committee reviewing Microsoft Office Open XML, or “OOXML”.
In this statement we describe our participation in ECMA TC45-M, and provide a summary of our position on ODF, OOXML and related issues.
Jody Goldberg is the lead maintainer of Gnumeric, a GNOME-based spreadsheet application, a position he has held for seven years.
Before June 2007, he worked for Novell, representing them on TC45-M in order to obtain further documentation of OOXML during its review process. In June, Jody left Novell and proposed that the GNOME Foundation facilitate his work with TC45-M by joining ECMA as a non-profit.
We accepted Jody’s proposal to make sure that OOXML was documented enough such that FLOSS implementations were possible without a huge amount of pain (as experienced by those working on DOC and XLS binary format support). The decision to participate in TC45-M was made by the Board as a direct result of Jody’s request. It did not involve any third party influence or financial considerations at any point.
Jody’s last interaction with TC45-M was in July, to deal with the latest set of issues he submitted regarding charting and pivot tables. While he is not participating in the current activities of TC45-M (which is focused on issue resolution for the ISO standardisation process), our membership continues so he can participate in the next review period.
During his participation in TC45-M (via Novell and the GNOME Foundation), Jody has raised hundreds of issues with the documentation of the format, which will demonstrate a significant, material, on-going benefit to FLOSS implementations of OOXML and as a result, to users of FLOSS products that require such interoperability.
In 2000, the GNOME community de-emphasised its own office software products, choosing to support the nascent OpenOffice.org project. As a result, there are no office products released on our six-month time-based release schedule today, although we encourage and support projects such as AbiWord, Glom and Gnumeric.
The GNOME Foundation is supporting the pursuit of Software Freedom through the innovative, accessible, and beautiful user experience created by GNOME contributors around the world. It’s a fun and inviting community, so if you’re reading this and wondering what you can do to help promote Software Freedom, contributing to GNOME is a great way to start!