The Standards Blog

OpenDocument and OOXML

UK Cabinet Office Says "Hello, You Must be Going" to ODF

OpenDocument and OOXML

We will never reject an incoming editable document in ODF format. Asking someone to resend a document in a closed proprietary format is akin to bad manners - Home Office OpenDocument Format Adoption Plan

Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going.
I'm glad I came, but just the same, I must be going
- Groucho Marx, Animal Crackers

Technological evolution is famous for obsoleting wonders created just a few years before. Sometimes new developments moot the fiercest battles between competitors as well. That seemed to be the case last week, when Microsoft announced its Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on…(wait for it)…Linux, the open source software assailed by the company’s prior CEO as a communist cancer.   It also saw the UK Cabinet Office announce its detailed plans for transitioning to the support of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), a document format that was just as fiercely opposed by Microsoft in the most hard-fought standards war in decades.  But at the same time, the Cabinet Office announced its commitment to work towards making document formats as close to obsolete as possible.

Sweden Moves Forward with Open Standards Requirements in Public Procurement

OpenDocument and OOXML

 Courtesy of Hofres/Wikimedia Commons -  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.Last July, the UK Cabinet Office adopted a rule requiring government purchasers to limit their technology acquisitions to products that implement an established list of “open standards.” Last week, Sweden took another step down the same road as it further refined a list of information and communications technology (ICT) standards. That list currently comprises sixteen standards. A posting at the European Commission EU Joinup Web site reports that other standards are to be added this year.

Library of Congress “Opens Up” with (wait for it…) OOXML

OpenDocument and OOXML

Last week, the Library of Congress announced that it will “open up with OOXML.” Nine new OOXML format descriptions will be added to the LoC Format Sustainability Website.

Last July, the U.K. Cabinet Office formally adopted ODF, the OpenDocument Format developed by OASIS and adopted by ISO/IEC, as an approved open format for editable public documents. It did not give the same approval to OOXML, another XML-based document format that was based on a contribution from Microsoft to ECMA, another standards organization. OOXML was also in due course adopted by ISO/IEC. The Cabinet Office decision came ten years after the largest standards war of the decade was launched by a similar, but later reversed, decision by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

OpenForum Europe Challenges Governments to Walk the Open Format Walk

OpenDocument and OOXML

OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).

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.

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?

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

ODFLogo%20010.pngLast 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.

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.

UK Cabinet Office Signals Move Towards Open Source Office Suites

OpenDocument and OOXML

UK_Cab%20154.jpgIt 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). 

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 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.

Subscribe to OpenDocument and OOXML