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Breaking: Slovakia Chooses ODF and Other Open Standards (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch this space as we shall soon have an update

Here is a portion from our IRC conversation (taking place just minutes ago). We might soon have a manual translation of this news.

<PetoKraus> but i’ve got good pro-ODF news from my country
<Eruaran> Explaining how a nice API does things for you, “we have little wood elves that run through he forest writing… code”

ODF format<PetoKraus> it seems that the government proposed a… law or regulation, which…
<PetoKraus> yeah, our government is obliged to acknowledge only documents received in ODF, PDF, RTF or HTML
<PetoKraus> no DOC / OOXML whatsoever
<Eruaran> thats good
<PetoKraus> preffered display/publishing format is PDF 1.3
<schestowitz> Good news.
<PetoKraus> DOC is forbidden for publishing of documents, but allowed for intra-governmential communication

In other uplifting news, watch this short story.

My lawyer made my day this morning. Not just because he does a great job, I’m used to that and that’s why he’s my lawyer. The reason he made my day today is because the document he just sent me is in ODF.

The intra-governmental aspect of this may spur the network effect. Slovakia has already shown it was fond of ODF some time in the past.

Update: Peter Kraus, adding his IANAtranslator disclaimer, brings us the followiing translation of the news:

Which document formats will be used in communication with public administration?

After adoption of “National concept of informatization of public administration”, where the current government set many bold time goals, the Ministry of Finances has, on Monday, submitted new draft handbill about used standards in public administration, with regards to communication with the public, businessmen and other subjects. The draft specifies all formats of documents, which the public service should be, compulsorily, able to accept.

(DSL.sk, 5th of July 2008)

On Monday has the Ministry of Finances of Slovak Republic submitted (on cross-resort discussion) new draft handbill of used standards, which should replace the current, valid one (from Ministry of Post, Transport and Telecommunications #1706/M-2006, 14.6.2006)

The draft was submitted after approving of “National concept of informatization of public administration” in second half of may, about which we informed here.

The bill is more developed and detailed, in comparison with the currently valid one, and incorporates various principles from aforementioned concept.

It differs a lot in prescribed standards in document formats, in many cases moved from closed to open formats, and precisely specifies the duties of public administration. There are couple problematic points in the draft as well.

Text documents

The biggest attention is drawn to text document formats, which are, currently, the subject of international discussion about the conditions of formats and software in public administration; as well as source of problems of ISO and subject of EU commission investigation.

The Ministry developed the specification in depth. It requires the public administration to be able to receive text files in all specified formats. (The wording of currently valid bill binds the public administration to accept only one of proposed formats, the decision of the particular format is up to the body itself).

Documents can be published only in one format (true in both, the draft and valid bill).

The formats, surprisingly, included the Open Document Format, which was about to be removed from the specification. In April, the Ministry said (for server DSL.sk), that ODF will be removed, because: “the main reason for change is, according to facts, the small spread of ODF.”

In the end of May, Microsoft announced, that Microsoft Office will support ISO approved ODF sooner, than ISO approved version of OpenXML.

The public administration will have to be able to receive text documents in formats: ODF, PDF 1.3, RTF and HTML.

Documents will be published in one of these formats, preferably PDF.

DOC format will be used in the exchange of text documents between the bodies of administration, but is forbidden for publishing.

Presentations, Pictures, other types

New issue are demands on format of presentation, where the only one supported is Microsoft format, PowerPoint .ppt / .pps. Needless to say, that in case of presentations, the position of MS Office is much more stronger against the others, than in case of text/table documents.

Supported formats for table documents are missing from the draft. Data are to be exchanged using XML; which is the only standard supported for electronic forms, but this is without further specification.

Raster images are supported in formats GIF, PNG, JPG, GeoTIFF and TIFF; Vector images in Shapefile, SVG and Flash. The same rules for receiving and publishing apply – the administration has to be able to receive the documents in any of the formats, and publish in one of them. The technical difficulties can arise in accepting vector images in Flash.

Audio and Video formats are specified by container formats – MPEG, OGG and MPEG-7; codec standards are MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3 and XVID. This part looks incomplete, since XVID is usually transported in AVI containers, and there is lack of Theora/Vorbis support for OGG.

Streaming audio will be supported in format “H.261 and newer”. Supported archives will include ZIP, and new support for TAR and GZ.

Web pages, Emails

There are several rules for web pages as well.

If the page contains more than 100 different published web pages, keyword-search must be included.

RSS channel must be included for every page.

Text documents have to be, after publishing on the web, in HTML format (applies for documents which have to be published by the law, or other directives).

Standardized are email addresses as well. First part of email addresses for persons are “name.surname@”; generic addresses, such as “minister@” or “mayor@” are to be created as well.

Security, Other

The bill specifies deployment of IPv6 in new system components. It’s not clear, whether IPv6 must be supported in all new components, or not.

The security part was developed much more. It specifies rules of network and physical security, solves backups, and on theoretical level, protection against harmful code and software actualisations.

Backups are to be created weekly, for archivation one per two months in two copies. One archivation backup has to be stored in another (physical) place than the backuped information system.

Access control has to secure, that system administrators won’t have access to the data, which they won’t need for their duties – e.g. secret data in databases. According to our source from IT in the public administration (which would like to remain anonymous) – this can be problematic.

Access of every user to the system has to be logged, and these logs can be changed only after approval from responsible person.

Regular security checks are to be performed (at least one per year).

In comparison to the valid bill, this draft bill is less technically specific, mainly in cases of particular specification of used formats and standards. This can cause inconsistency in formats with more versions.

The bill can be commented on till 20.6., it should go into action 1.8.2008. Exceptions are applied to several points, which will take validity on 1.9.2009. Delayed will be support of PNG, XVID, OGG; also access control of administrators.

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  1. r3 said,

    June 6, 2008 at 2:04 am


    At least something can be done right by our government :D ……..
    At least I can see that the visit of Steve Balmer was no good ;)

  2. x00r said,

    June 6, 2008 at 4:50 am


    Great news…
    BTW: The previous revision was about excluding ODF.

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