Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open Document Format (ODF) news

Click on the title above to read an article from Computerworld about various nations adopting ODF or using plug-ins to save Microsoft documents in Open Document Format that can be read and manipulated in non-Microsoft software packages.

... South Africa becomes the first country in Africa to adopt ODF as a government standard for exchanging documents between government agencies and the general public,.... In Korea, the government's Agency for Technology and Standards approvedODF as a national standard several months ago. Marcich admitted that the Korean decision does not force agencies to use the ODF document format, but he said it "should carry weight" with officials deciding what format or formats to support. ... 13 nations have announced laws or rules that favor the useODF -- the native file format in the free, open-source OpenOffice productivity software -- over Microsoft's Office formats, such as Office Open XML.

Those nations include Russia, Malaysia, Japan, France, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Germany and Norway.

There has been no similar move in the US, though in a speech at Google last week Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called for data to be stored in "universally accessible formats." ... France is making the strongest move to ODF and its native office suite, OpenOffice. Nearly half a million government employees are being switched to OpenOffice.

But few other governments are matching France's zeal for dumping Microsoft Office. In Belgium, for instance, the government is using plug-ins to enable Microsoft Office to read and save files in ODF ,....
This last is the same solution we are following in Massachusetts. In the meantime, Microsoft is waiting for a February decision by the ISO whether to certify Microsoft's version, Open XML as a standard equivalent to ODF. Such a decision might slow governments and companies from moving to ODF to ensure that they are not tied to Microsoft in all purchasing. Open Document format allows users to retrieve and work on documents regardless of the software used to create them. As Microsoft has more and more market share, governments and policy makers have shied away from being forced into allegiance to MS Word and other Microsoft products. The ISO (International Standards Organization) approvedODF as a standard in May, 2006. In May, 2005, the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) approved ODF as a standard. And the European Union's IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) Management Committee encouraged the OASIS to pass Open Document Format to the ISO for approval.

Affiliated groups of interest are the Open Document Format Alliance, Open Document |XML Online Community. Readers also might want to see the ISO standard.

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