Microsoft Seeks XPS Standardization: How Many is Too Many?

By Michael Flanakin @ 7:38 AM :: 2720 Views :: Technology, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

Apparently, Microsoft is now pushing for its XML Paper Specification (XPS) Mobile-ready link to get standardized Mobile-ready link by Ecma International Mobile-ready link. Is it just me or has Microsoft made Ecma? Don't get me wrong, the assocation was around long before Microsoft first approached it to standardize the C# language Mobile-ready link and Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) Mobile-ready link. Heck, Ecma actually dates back to the early '60s Mobile-ready link; long before Microsoft came on the scene. I guess my point of view is in part due to what I'll call "narrow-sighted, Americanism," but that's a whole other topic for another day. Another part is probably because I'm fairly heavily focused on .NET, web development, and the standards that revolve around these areas.

I guess one thing I'm wondering is, how many standards organizations Mobile-ready link do we really need? Seriously. Off the top of my head, I know of 7 that affect the work I do: ANSI Mobile-ready link, Ecma, IEEE Mobile-ready link, IETF Mobile-ready link, ISO Mobile-ready link, OASIS Mobile-ready link, and W3C Mobile-ready link. At the time of this writing, Wikipedia lists 35 international standards organizations as well as a slew of regional and national organizations. Do we really need so many? As with most software that seems to be duplicated, I'm guessing these were each brought up on their own, individual need for standardization within their area, whether that be location- or field-based. I just can't help but think we have a bit too much redundancy. I admit, it is sometimes hard to submit to someone else's opinions about such matters as standardization, but how good is a "standard" if there are 100 of them? Of course, what good is a standard if it doesn't meet all needs? The truth is, nothing is 100%. We all know this. I'm just thinking it's probably about time we had a standard for standards bodies. I'd like to see standards bodies come to an agreement on who decides what can or can't be a standard. With that, I'd like to see some of these 7 organizations we hear about daily go away. I'm not going to say who I think should be merged with who, but someone should.

While I'm on the topic of "how many is too many," there's the obvious question of: How many standards do we really need? Bringing that home to what started this rant, XPS has one primary competitor today: Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) Mobile-ready link. We all know about and love to hate PDF... I'd like to stress the "love to hate" part, as PDF is the one document format I'll go out of my way to avoid. Then again, Foxit Software Mobile-ready link has made this much more bearable with its Foxit Reader Mobile-ready link and PDF Editor Mobile-ready link applications. The main benefit PDF has over other formats has been its read-only nature. You can publish a document as a PDF on the web and feel pretty safe about it not being re-published by third parties with customizations you didn't approve of. XPS has that same feel, but is much more open than PDF, which is why I like it. Of course, there's still that glaring question: What's the difference? So, what is the difference? Why do we need a second read-only document format? That's a good question...