OASIS Okays Open Source Open Doc Format for Office Apps

OASIS said yesterday that its members approved the OpenDocument file format as a standard. OpenDocument is a royalty-free, XML-based file format that covers features required by text, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents.

"XML doesn't always mean open,” says James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk. “You can hide a lot in a file format. OpenDocument represents an opportunity to ensure truly open file formats for productivity applications." The standard has a good chance of succeeding because “there are not financial penalties associated with developing to it," he adds.

OpenDocument provides a single XML schema for text, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents. It makes use of existing standards, such as HTML, SVG, XSL, SMIL, XLink, XForms, MathML and the Dublin Core, where possible. OpenDocument has been designed as a package concept, enabling it to be used as a default file format for office applications with no increase in file size or loss of data integrity.

Sun's StarOffice 8 productivity suite, which is based on the project, uses OpenDocument as its default file format. Sun Microsystems submitted to OASIS in 2002 with the intent that it would become freely available to developers and users of any office software application. In addition to Sun, Novell, and Stellent already use OpenDocument implementations in their software.

The OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee plans to extend the standard to other applications and users, as well as adapting it to incorporate other office application developments.

"IBM recognizes the importance of a standards-based document format,” says Karla Norsworthy, vice president, software standards, IBM. “Use of open, non-proprietary formats will facilitate seamless collaboration between vendors, customers and partners and ensure the maintenance of corporate and government knowledge."