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Tuesday, July 29 2014 @ 01:48 AM CDT

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U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents

OpenDocument and OOXML

The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

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It’s Document Freedom Day 2014: What Does that Mean for You?

OpenDocument and OOXML

If the question posed in the title to this entry puzzles you, consider the following: yes, it’s reasonable to assume that you will be able to open a document tomorrow that you create today. But how about opening that same document ten years from now?  Here’s a hint: have you tried to open one you created ten years ago?  Maybe that didn’t work so well.  Twenty years ago?  Not a chance. 

Get the idea?

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My Comments as Posted to the UK Cabinet Office Standards Hub (now it's your turn)

OpenDocument and OOXML

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

Last week I highlighted the fact that Microsoft was urging its business partners to comment at the British Cabinet Office's Standards Hub on a standards-related proposal. That proposal would limit government procurement to office software that complied with the ISO ODF standard, but makes no mention of the ISO OOXML standard promoted by Microsoft. I also noted that anyone could comment on the proposal, and that the deadline for comments would close on February 26, Greenwich time. I closed by urging readers to let their opinions on the subject be heard.

Having so urged, I could hardly forego offering my own comments as well, and now I have done exactly that. What follows is the text I uploaded there, and perhaps it will help motivate you to contribute as well if you have not already done so.

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Comment Deadline on UK Cabinet Office “ODF Only” Policy is February 26

OpenDocument and OOXML

Updated: The deadline for filing comments has been extended to 1700 GMT on Friday, February 28

As you may be aware, the UK Cabinet Office has been engaged in the long and careful development of an updated open standards policy to guide government procurement of ICT goods and services. A few weeks ago, a senior government minister received great attention when he announced that the Cabinet Office hoped to give preference in the future to purchasing open source office suite software implementing the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard.

This intention, however, is not a done deal. Rather, the rules that would establish this preference are currently only in the proposal stage, and all elements of that proposal can be changed or deleted, based upon comments posted at the Cabinet Office’s public Standards Hub Web site by businesses, citizens and others. And the deadline for commenting on those proposals is fast approaching: February 26.

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UK Cabinet Office Signals Move Towards Open Source Office Suites

OpenDocument and OOXML

It was ten years ago that the CIO of Massachusetts rattled the desktop world by announcing that the Executive Agencies of the Commonwealth would henceforth license only office suite software that complied with the OpenDocument Format. The shock waves that followed were attributable to the fact that while the open source OpenOffice office suite was built around that standard, the dominant product – Microsoft’s venerable Office suite did not.

Yesterday, the UK Cabinet Office blew some life back into the embers left behind by what  was one of the most epic standards wars in history (you can follow that saga from the beginning here and the first five chapters of a book I started to write about it here). 

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LibreOffice 4.0 Release to Widen Divide with OpenOffice

OpenDocument and OOXML

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

It was in September of 2010 that a group of key members of the OpenOffice.org developer team announced that they were no longer willing to wait out the uncertain future of OpenOffice, especially in the face of the lack of interest shown by Oracle, the new owner of the project following its acquisition of Sun Microsystems nine months before.

Their announced intent was to form an independent foundation to host a fork of the OpenOffice code base, thereby achieving a goal they had sought throughout ten years of control by Sun – to work in an environment free from the control of a single vendor.

It's now two and a half years later, and with the release of LibreOffice 4.0, that Foundation is not only flourishing, but forging a path independent of its predecessor.

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Portuguese Government Adopts ODF as Sole Editable Document Format

OpenDocument and OOXML

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

According to a press release issued today by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry), the government of Portugal has decided to approve a single editable, XML-based document format for use by government, and in public procurement.  And that format is not OOXML.

Instead, the Portuguese government has opted for ODF, the OpenDocument Format, as well as PDF and a number of other formats and protocols, including XML, XMPP, IMAP, SMTP, CALDAV and LDAP. The announcement is in furtherance of a law passed by the Portuguese Parliament on June 21 of last year requiring compliance with open standards (as defined in the same legislation) in the procurement of government information systems and when exchanging documents at citizen-facing government Web sites (an unofficial English translation is here).

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Office to Become Fully Open XML Compliant (at last)

OpenDocument and OOXML

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Yesterday, Microsoft made an unobtrusive announcement that brings a degree of closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world.  The same saga pitted open source advocates against proprietary vendors, and for the first time brought the importance of technical standards to the attention of millions of people around the world, and at the center of the action were Microsoft and IBM, the latter supported by Google and Oracle, among other allies. 
 
The standards in question described the format specifications that can allow documents created by one proprietary software product to be opened, edited and saved in another. 
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The Future of OpenOffice.org: How Not to Write a Press Release

OpenDocument and OOXML

Since 2005, I see that I have written over 227 blog entries about ODF (I say more than, because the very earliest got lost in an earlier platform migration).  Throughout the greatest part of this six year period, OpenOffice was the poster child ODF implementation - the one with the most users, the most press attention, the most corporate support - tens of millions of dollars of it, from Sun Microsystems.  Of course, there were other impressive implementations, both open source and proprietary alike.  OpenOffice, though, was always the default ODF implementation referenced by the press.

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OpenOffice: Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

OpenDocument and OOXML

Poor OpenOffice. It’s been open source for so long, and yet its adoption and market importance has always lagged far behind that of peer software like Linux – despite the fact that it’s free and implements a standard (ODF) aggressively promoted by some of the most powerful technology countries in the world. Can this ever change?

If yesterday’s announcement by IBM is any indication, the answer is “not likely,” despite the fact that Big Blue’s latest commitment to OpenOffice, on its surface, sounds like good news. The reason? It’s too little, and too late. Here’s why.