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
While Microsoft’s ACS announcement immediately drew significant notice, the Cabinet Office document release did not. The most obvious reason is because the U.K. had previously announced that it would support ODF and not OOXML, Microsoft’s competing XML-based standard for editable documents. But there’s also this: for many types of users, the age of the document is waning, and with it the power and importance of the office suites that create them. Just as AM radio, for decades the only broadcast medium known to most users in the U.S., became increasingly irrelevant when FM-based stations became ubiquitous.
But I’m getting ahead of the story here, and perhaps ahead of readers who do not have familiarity with what ODF is and what that epic standards battle was all about. So here’s a brief historical review.
Just over ten years ago, the CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shocked the IT world by announcing that the 50,000 desktops of the Massachusetts Executive Agencies would be transitioned to support an interoperability framework based upon a list of standards that included document format specifications.
While adopting an interoperability framework was forward looking for the times, it was not in itself astonishing. But the omission of Microsoft’s preferred specification (OOXML) for editable documents was. Instead, the Commonwealth endorsed ODF, a specification developed by OASIS.
A multi-year, epic battle ensued that would take far more time to recount than time and space allow (indeed, you can find the first five chapters of a book I began recounting that saga here, and hundreds of blog posts here). Suffice it to say that the stakes were high, the emotions higher, and the tactics of some combatants sometimes distressingly low. Sad to say, over time the positions of the major IT companies that had promoted ODF shifted, and with those shifts, their support waned. By 2008, ODF had become largely a community cause rather than a commercial conflict. And the resources of the community could not come close to countering the level of support that Microsoft could place behind what continued to be one of its two largest profit centers.
But the ODF movement never died, especially in Europe, where cities, agencies, provinces, and sometimes entire countries pledged their support to ODF. Most prominently, the UK Cabinet Office carried the torch, and that almost brings us (in the briefest way imaginable) up to date.
How to Hack a Presidential Election
Just $2.99 at