ODF Gets the Nod from ISO
- By John K. Waters
With JavaOne erupting next week, this will probably become an all-Java blog
for a few days, but before I'm dunked like a donut (cream-filled, no sprinkles)
into the vast cuppa joe that Moscone Center will become, I wanted to catch
readers up on the OpenDocument Format standardization saga.
You probably already know this because the tech press and even the mainstream
media have finally picked up this story. (The blogosphere strikes again.) But in
case you've been focused on Barry Bonds' assault on The Babe's homerun record or
caught up in antics of the latest incarnation of Dr. Who, the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the IEC jointly
announced this week that they have ratified the ODF as a standard. For you
standards aficionados, the ODF is now ISO/IEC 26300.
The newly approved ISO/IEC 26300, ISO and IEC said in a joint statement
announcing the ratification, ''...will allow users to save and exchange editable
office documents such as text documents (including memos, reports, and books),
spreadsheets, databases, charts and presentations, regardless of
application or platform in which the files were created.''
The ever vigilant Andrew Updegrove, OASIS attorney, standards maven, and
outspoken and oft-quoted supporter of the ODF, tells me that, although there are
still some procedural steps internal to ISO/IEC that are required before the
official text of the standard will be finalized and issued, these steps are
formalities rather than gating factors.
''With adoption of ODF by ISO/IEC now assured,'' Updegrove wrote me in an
email, ''software that implements the standard will now become more attractive
to those European and other government purchasers for whom global adoption by
ISO/IEC is either desirable, or required. Given the ongoing unhappiness in
Europe with Microsoft over what the EU regards as unacceptable bundling and
other practices, this may be particularly significant, especially when taken
with the desire of many European and other purchasers to use open source
products whenever possible. Offerings such as OpenOffice and KOffice therefore
should receive a boost in appeal and usage, as well as for-sale versions, such
as Sun's StarOffice and IBM's Internet-based offering.''
Updegrove is an indefatigable champion of the ODF cause, and his ConsortiumInfo.org standards
blog is a must-read for that side of the open doc debate. It's also a
good place to go for some context on the standards process itself. Check out the
first of what Updegrove tells me will be a series of interviews with reps of
each of the major office suites that support the ODF: StarOffice 8.0, OpenOffice
2.0, IBM's Managed Workplace Client, and others. His
first conversation is with Inge Wallin, the KOffice Promotions Lead.
In other ODF news: The Open Document Foundation has created a plugin designed
to allow Microsoft Office users to ''open, render, and save to ODF files.'' The
plugin project has been underway for about a year, but the software is not yet
available to the general public; reportedly it will be provided first to the
States of Massachusetts and California, and the EU.
Microsoft, which readers will recall has submitted its
own doc format, Open
, to the Ecma standards group for certification, has stated that it will not
support the ODF.
For more on this development, see Gary Edwards
May 4 posting on Groklaw.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached