Recently I was caught with three versions of a document to which I needed to make some small changes. I had a printed version, a version saved out of Microsoft Office 2007 (for the record, I made that document on someone else’s computer), and a version saved in the Open Document format (ODF). Unfortunately, where I was, I only had access to Microsoft Office 2003 and no ability to install software. In the end, I had to retype the document off of the printed version. This simply should not be necessary. If there was a single, universally supported document format, this problem would not have occurred. Really, a standard document format is in everyone’s interest, except possibly Microsoft’s.
Instead of one uniform standard, which was the goal of ODF, all that’s left is fragmentation and confusion. Another case of point from the news:
Saving as RTF from Open Office works just as well. The ePub format is based on XML and workflow is possible starting from the Open Document Format. However, at the moment RTF seems an easier option.
Here is why the world ended up this way.
The IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have agreed to extend their existing cooperation agreement, which describes a procedure for submitting and approving existing IEEE standards to IEC, to include a procedure permitting joint, parallel development of a project in both organizations leading to an IEC/IEEE International Standard.
Martin Bryan, Former Convenor of ISO/International Electrotechnical Commission JTC1/SC34 WG1, wrote: “The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles.” Convergence with ill-reputed bodies is the last thing the world needs. █