Use Styles: at last, someone says something sensible about Open XML and ODF

by Rick Jelliffe

Peter Sefton's recent blogs are some of the few sensible, non-partisan things I have read about Open XML and ODF in recent times. He has some really good, detailed posts on Word 2007 recently and lists.

Peter is far from an anti-Microsoft partisan: indeed, he is probably a poster boy for the kind of developers Microsoft needs to attract with Open XML and Word 2007. He is one of the key players in the free ICE Integrated Content Environment project.

Peter says "the big point that always seems to get missed when people talk about word processing formats" is "use styles." Styles represent a sweet spot between crappy hodgepodge unusable office documents and retargetable information as allowed (with more effort) by XML with all its information-protection mechanisms like validation.

Peter's comments on list interoperability with ODF and Open XML are, I think, a real litmus test for how seriously we should take either (or both) as formats.


Bruce D'Arcus
2006-06-06 07:00:58
I was just talking about some of this yesterday on the OASIS ODF list WRT to accessibility.

Styles are indeed a way to introduce all sorts of benefits to productivity documents, though I think the fact that most users seem not use them sensibly represents a failure of vision for application developers more than a weakness in the file formats. Apple gets some credit, though, for finally banishing the b and i toolbar buttons, and forgrounding styles in their Pages application.

BTW, if you had dinner with Patrick, I presume he talked to you about the ODF metadata work? We've talked a bit about an idea to allow an optional uri to be attached to styles, which would be an easy and cheap way to add further semantic rigor to content. Again, on the accessibility connection.