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Checking in on the ODF Alliance

OpenDocument and OOXML

The ODF Alliance issued a press release containing further good news yesterday, providing a good excuse to check in at their Website to see how that organization is doing.    The answer appears to be rather nicely, thank you, with membership standing at "nealry 280," representing 43 countries according to the press release.  A recent addition to the membership rolls is the City of Bristol, which earlier this year announced its adoption of Sun's ODF-compliant StarOffice for its c. 5,500 municipal employee desktops.

That's handsome progress since the last time that I checked in on April 19 (138 members then) , and even more impressive when it's remembered that the Alliance was launched on March 3, 2006 with just 36 members.

The other piece of news in the press release is confirmation of an earlier report at the Open Malaysia Website that Malaysia is on its way to approving and recommending ODF for use by public employees.  According to the press release:

This past week, Malaysia's standards body voted to propose ODF as a country standard, following the recognition in May by the International Organization For Standardization (ISO) of ODF as an international standard.  After a public comment period that ends in October, Malaysia's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is expected to formally endorse ODF by year's end, recommending the format for use by the public sector.

That's obviously good news for ODF, adding Malaysia to a growing list of countries (France, Belgium and India) that are actively considering ODF or moving towards public endorsement of technology based on open standards (Denmark and Norway).  Massachusetts, of course, remains on course for ODF adoption.

The press release also addresses a third topic: Microsoft's recent announcement that it is supporting an open source converter project at SourceForge.  That news was greeted with varying degrees of praise and skepticism in the press and by interested parties.  Here's what Alliance Executive Director Marino Marcich had to say on this topic in the press release:

"Clearly there is a strong demand from customers for access to a truly universal, open standards-based file format,” said Marino Marcich. “If Microsoft's ODF translator really works, it -- along with converters that are being developed by others -- can be a tool to help customers transition to an environment where ODF predominates. We believe that customers and Alliance members would welcome additional work, and hands-on involvement from Microsoft, to ensure that documents can be saved in ODF as easily and fully as other formats supported by Office.

The most interesting phrase in that quote obviously being if it "really works."  The most educated analysis on that question of which I am aware comes from Rob Weir, an IBM representative on all of the OASIS ODF Technical Committees.  Rob's conclusions can be found at his blog which, as of this writing, includes four recent posts on this topic, with links to other opinions as well.

I've also been watching to see how much attention the ODF Alliance has been receiving in the press, and the answer there appears to be quite nicely as well.  Marcich is frequently quoted in multiple stories each time there is new news on the ODF front, such as Google joining the Alliance, and Microsoft's announcement of the converter project (his perhaps more candid opinion on that topic can be found in this eWeek article). 

If you'd like to learn more about the Alliance and keep in touch with it in the future, you can find prior press releases and links to articles about the Alliance here, sign up to receive periodic email newsletters and updates here, and find resources of various types here.  And, if you're so inclined, why not go ahead and join?  You can do that at there site as well, right here.

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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Checking in on the ODF Alliance
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 02 2006 @ 06:42 PM CDT
So, will the OpenDocument Foundation release the plugin they were beta testing for Mass. last May or will it get buried and we have to accept Microsoft as the industry leader for ODF plugins?
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