The Future Is Open: What OpenDocument Is And Why You Should Care

by Jean Hollis Weber

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PJ at Groklaw asked Daniel Carrera, an volunteer, to explain the OpenDocument format. "How does a format get chosen? And is OpenDocument on the list when governments like the State of Massachusetts make up such lists of acceptable formats for governmental use? If not, what can be done to change that? Because we are all concerned about proprietary formats and standards, and more and more governments are adopting policies requiring open standards, it's a very important subject."

Daniel calls OpenDocument "our best chance to fight vendor lock-in associated with proprietary formats." It's currently being considered by the EU Commission as a candidate for an official format.

The full article includes a timeline and a summary of the Valoris Report, commissioned by the European Union's Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC) to explore the possibility of using Open Standards to create a more competitive marketplace. Some quotes:

"Complete the sentence, 'OpenDocument is ...'

(a) An open, XML-based file format.

(b) An open standard, supported by the OASIS and ISO standards groups.

(c) The default file format for the upcoming 2.0 and KOffice 1.4.

(d) A top prospect for an official format for the European Commission.

(e) Our best chance to fight vendor lock-in associated with proprietary formats.

(f) All of the above.

The correct answer is (f) All of the above."

"The Valoris report was well researched and very thorough. They recommended the adoption of an open XML format backed by a recognized open standards group. The report is a most compelling document describing how open XML technologies are impacting government information systems and requirements policies."

"The Valoris group closely monitored the development of the OpenDocument format, and by November 2004 every one of the concerns and issues they raised were directly addressed by OASIS TC. As a case in how governments and organizations go about setting information system requirements policy, the Valoris effort provides an unparalleled insight."

The Valoris Report (in PDF) is here: