The Open Document Format Sweeps Across 16 Governments
By user804106 on Jan 05, 2009
In another victory for open standards, 16 governments now require the use of Open Document Format, according to Information Week, see Open Document Format Has Been Accepted By 16 Governments (2 January 2009).
Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have joined the bandwagon.
The Open Document Format (ODF) is suitable for office documents, including text documents, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents like drawings or presentations, but is not restricted to these kinds of documents. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) developed this new open standard based upon the XML-based file format originally created by OpenOffice.org. OASIS submitted ODF to the Joint Technical Committee (JTC-1) of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). In May 2006, it was approved unanimously as an ISO and IEC standard (ISO/IEC 26300:2006).
What these 16 governments must have realized is that customers can freely choose the applications based on look and feel, functionality, cost, or other criteria, without worrying about purchasing a specific, single-vendor software in order to work with their documents. Hence, ODF is gaining momentum in the public sector in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, as the Information Week article documents.
In time, the format might enable a shift away from the current monopoly on the computer desktop. Government is an important customer and adopts open standards policies and practices for the same reasons as industry does: flexibility, choice and efficiency. ODF provides that choice and the public sector is even better placed to benefit because of it.