back to article Google sneaks under standards radar

In stark contrast to Microsoft's recent battle, here and here, to get Open Office XML sanctioned as an international standard, Google has quietly pulled off a standardization coup for its XML-based KML geographic information language with barely a whisper of dissent. The Open Geospatial Consortium recently approved KML as an …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Google's the only one actually getting work done

    > Google's dominance of the standardization work at OGC is a concern

    Um, if you're the only one actually doing new work in the area, of course you're going to dominate it. People need to STEP UP before they can complain. Thank God for Google, or we'd still be stuck with utter garbage like mapquest.

    > OGC represents around 350 organizations involved in online geographical

    > information technology and services.

    So what are these people doing? Sitting on their thumbs, obviously.

  2. Mo


    Er, yeah. While you could plausibly call Office documents a de facto standard, the same doesn't apply (yet, and probably not for quite some time, if ever) to OXML.

  3. Brett Brennan

    So long as it's an open standard

    The entire point of OOXML is/was that it is NOT an open standard. It requires a legal "promise" from Microsoft to allow third parties to develop applications that use it.

    I have not read the Google "standard" for KML; however, I'm assuming that the lack of massive backlash to it means that it is relatively clean.

    Also, to the first-post AC: you've hit the mark there. The world of GIS experts is a very small one, with one company - ESRI - the true dominant player in the industry. Google is really a user of the raw data collected an correlated by ESRI and a few other companies, making this more a case of the 600 pound gorilla standing on the bank of the river shouting at the 400 pound alligator. As long as the gorilla eats bananas and throws raw chickens and lawyers into the river, the alligator really doesn't care what the gorilla does on land...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Google fan-bois?

    Is there such a thing as a Google fan boy?

    Oh wait, the first poster answered that already...

  5. Arjen

    Here is a thought...

    I keep reading about the wonderful working environment at Google offices. So, I thought perhaps that should be a de-facto industry standard.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Come on, Phil, you're stretching.

    Since when has Google locked in users as gravely as Microsoft has to sell their software or service? And how many people have complaints against Google services, as Microsoft has had with Office?

    When they start obfuscating formats, locking-in users, and writing crap software, we can start complaining.

    Not yet, I'm afraid...

  7. Tammer Salem
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft - defacto standard?

    That's funny, I could have sworn there already was a standard in office documents ... That's right! ODF!

    Open office and Google back this standard, and wouldn't you know it .... it works.

    It's seems unfair to compare Google to Microsoft, becuase Google, as a previous user commented, is doing most of the work, whereas microsoft is trying to push a standard on top of a pre-existing one that is quite comprehensive.

  8. Nicholas Moore

    Limitations of KML

    I'm not sure what the limitations of KML are based on the linked URL. What that page describes is the limitations of an implementation of a application which uses the specification - nothing linked to any limitations of the specification itself except the fact it uses a single map projection - not exactly "shocking" and certainly changeable if ever desired.

    Now, I'll be the first to say Google isn't the "great, do-gooding" company it sometimes likes to pretend it is, but to claim this is at all like Microsof's OOXML application would certainly be pushing the boat out. Did you even understand why many open source people weren't happy with OOXML?

  9. Lee Kindness

    @Nicholas Moore

    Agreed, but the one criticism on the linked URL -- "Note that KML by specification uses only a single projection, EPSG:4326" -- is a major one.

  10. Chris
    Dead Vulture

    Unfair comparison

    This not at all like the (O)OXML debate!

    MS is trying to push through another 'open' office document standard where one previously exists and is actively used (ODF).

    The KML format has been standardised as there is no alternative. Setting a standard where there isn't one is in no way comparable to forcing through a competing, unimplemented standard to one which already exists.

    Shame on your el Reg!

  11. James Anderson

    The diffenrence is:-

    The google standard is a claer open (perhaps a little limited) way of specfiying geographical information. The spac is readbale and can be used by anyone wishing to excahnge such information without any refernce to google or using any google software.

    Much like microsofts DHCP or SOAP standards in fact.

    The problem with OOXM is that is clearly an attempt preserve microsofts near monopoly on Word Processor documents. The standard is not open or readable and as large chucks effectively say "do what Word version 3.7 revision 213 does" only microsoft can actually implement the standard or even decide if a document complies with the standard.

    Now the whole point of the competing standard, OSF, is to destroy Microsfots near monopoly. Once something is an ISO standard official bodies like national, regional and local governments, international organisations such as NATO, UNICEF, and indeed ISO can easily mandate that supplied software support this standard and that submitted documents comply to the standard.

    This opens up the game to any software such as OpenOffice ABIWORD etc. that supports OSF to compete on even terms with Word, Excel etc.

    Furthermore it stops the current situation where "Security Fixes" and "Upgrades" to Word produce documents in a format that cannot be read by anything other than word.

    No wonder MS has pulled out all the stops to break the standards process.

  12. Paul

    yeah, pretend we just hate MSFT

    Its easy to pretend opposition to OOXML is just fanboys at play. The truth is the fanboys would love Microsoft to deliver a genuinely usable Office spec, destroying their own monopoly in the process. Even a 6000 page spec if it was accurate.

    Unsurprisingly Microsoft declined to do that. OOXML doesn't help break the monopoly because Microsoft don't use it, don't intend to use it and made damn sure OOXML does not in fact document any existing or future Microsoft product formats well enough to be threaten anything.

    The real opposition remains technical. Microsoft are pushing a 'standard' that's anything but, not open, not litigation free, not complete - not even accurate. The complaint about Google is 'the standard could be better'. Well sometimes a bad standard's better than no standard, especially when the creator won't be hanging around like a bad smell constantly derailing improvements.

    Sometimes a standard is just a standard. And sometimes its a monopoly protecting its monopoly, by foul means.

  13. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Double standards

    Judges, Censors, politicians and this Standard lobby lot all hate Microsoft for some reason. Apple could quite easily get away with offing up a AOXML systems and it would be passed through without a second glance, it’s just the way it is, hypocrisy, buddyism and bribery with the CEO’s of Google / Apple. I don’t think Microsoft can do much about it, in a court case they will more than likely loose and in any other battles they will more than likely fail thanks to the unjustified wave of anti -Microsoft sentiment.

    Luckily Microsoft products are more thought through and win over in the end.

  14. KTLA
    Thumb Down

    Yes, Google and Apple invented everything.

    We know, we know. Google and Apple have invented everything that was ever useful...

    "...[KML] was originally developed as part of Google Earth."

    No, it wasn't. It was developed as part of Keyhole Earth Viewer. Many of us used Keyhole long before Google was any kind of influence on the industry at all. Note that the extension isn't .gml, that's a hint. Google, nor Google Earth had anything at all to do with it.

    And I also know speaking anything negative about Google or Apple will get me flamed, so go ahead...

  15. Anonymous Coward

    And Keyhole Earth Viewer became...

    If it were .gml - it would be something else entirely - i.e. Geogrpahy Markup Language invented by Ron Lake - who collaborated with the Big G on KML.

  16. joe

    Re: Double standards

    Dude get your facts strait before positing such intelligent comments.

    MS has been found guilty, yes GUILTY of being a Monopolist. So if a convicted monopolist tries to railroad an existing standard with an inferior/incomplete/legally encumbered standard by nefarious means its only to protect it's monopoly. Nothing more, no community good will, no industry collaboration, nada nope zip.

    "Apple could quite easily get away with offing up a AOXML systems and it would be passed through without a second glance"

    If Apple owned the market as MS does why wouldn't it. Thats what MS has done/tried.

    Whats funny is the tampering with ISO voters is so blatant i think the world is stunned. It's kind of like NY/NJ mob trials where everyone knows that the reason the snitch stopped singing is because the defense got to him, but theres nothing they can do.

    "unjustified wave of anti -Microsoft sentiment." Dude do your homework!!! Try Microsoft history 101!!!

    "Luckily Microsoft products are more thought through and win over in the end."

    Wow, are you the monkey man's sidekick? Tell us, please respond here how Vista is more thought through then other OSes out there? You want to see thought you should look at a MAC as far as usability is concerned. You want stability/security/scalability? Try LINUX/UNIX.

    Now web CMS.. MOSS? Please try Documentum/Red dot/Joomla etc.

    MS does make some really great software but they are by no means the best in the markets they are in. They are the best at making money more than software. I doubt i would get too much of an argument from anyone on that.

    I think MS has targeted the key people in the right spots over the years that has propelled them to the top of the SW heap. An IT director told me that he had never seen anyone fired for picking a MS solution.

    If Larry had a software portfolio that MS has even his pinstriped suited borg couldn't do what MS has done.

    Need my coat to walk the dog!!

  17. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Re: "Microsofts DHCP or SOAP standards"

    At what point in an alternative history did Microsoft invent DHCP?

    As for MS SOAP - this is the company that has developers who are so incompetent/clueless that they didn't understand XML at all... as a result they kludged "array" support into CDATA elements in the underlying XML rather than just using the native format of XML - i.e. an element can contain multiple child elements. In other words, they immediately broke the standard and implemented their own "binary" additions to reduce compatibility.

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