Summary: The ups and downs of ODF, the latter being largely the result of Microsoft’s gentle blows
The Dutch government has provided Denmark with information regarding the Dutch national plan Heemskerk for open government IT.
In Denmark, there is heated debate about the approach for open IT usage by the government. One of the obstacles is the open file format for mandatory use by the government and government organizations. ODF (Open Document Format) and OOXML (Open Office XML), originally developed by Microsoft, are the candidates for use.
The Dutch Ministry of Finance shared with Denmark the experience and knowledge it has gained from the national plan Heemskerk and the resulting action plan “Nederland Open in Verbinding” (NOiV). Finance spokesman Edwin van Scherrenburg confirmed to Dutch IDG news site Webwereld that the two governments are in contact. “We have shared all information regarding NOiV,” he said.
Further up in Norway, one person writes: “New task: write report for Norwegian government on whether to recommend/require ODF and/or OOXML in Norwegian public sector” (a response to which is: “I did the same for the Danish goverment about 2 years ago, “comparing” ODF, OOXML and PDF. Did I make a difference? I’d like to know”).
“On the menu: one of the smallest cities in Belgium – Nieuwerkerken – needs some new and fancy automatically generated documents in #odf,” says this gentleman from Belgium and ODF is also mentioned in German news sites.
Bart Hanssens writes from Belgium (a meeting was held in France): “uploaded proposal for #odf 1.1 Interoperability Profile http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/document.php?document_id=35565″
“ODF TC done,” writes Cherie Ekholm, “starting PDF/UA.” Dennis Hamilton announced: “ODF TC e-ballot on #ODF 1.2 Part 1 CD04 as Public Review draft ends tonight, expected to pass easily based on current votes.”
In addition he wrote: “ODF TC discussed whether to align OSI/IEC IS 26300 and #ODF 1.1 or would ODF 1.2 overtake the effort and time to accomplish. Unresolved.”
Later came: “#ODF TC Approves ODF 1.2 Part 1 Committee Draft CD04 to submit for first-ever Public Review. OASIS to announce after docs all set.”
An important subject which was brought up by several people has also been shared by an OpenOffice.org guy, who wrote:
Locked out by design
Software vendors have tried on and off to lock these documents so users needed the original software to use them. This can go horribly wrong, as some users of Microsoft Office 2003 have just found out to their cost, when the software refused to let them get at their documents – their own intellectual property. This is a design feature of Microsoft Office software which happened to misfire.
What it highlights is that no-one outside Microsoft has a clue what is hidden inside their secretive software. It also highlights the importance of not using a secret format to store valuable office documents. The safe way to store valuable documents is in OpenDocument Format (ODF) – an ISO approved open standard which isn’t owned by any one company. It’s the best guarantee against being held to ransom one day by a software supplier.
We wrote about this a few days ago and so did Microsoft. Wolf Corcoran-Mathe writes: “[Microsoft Fixes Office 2003 Document Lockout] Great. Now if they could only stop breaking ODF.” He is referring to Microsoft’s inability (or unwillingness) to obey interoperability needs [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
“Brown’s private firm benefits from Microsoft as we showed many times before, so he never relents.”Now we get to the ugly parts where Microsoft is attacking ODF, as usual. Alex Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22] is sticking his nose again, trolling/heckling John with some poison against ODF (see the comments in the blog above). Brown’s private firm benefits from Microsoft as we showed many times before, so he never relents. Microsoft’s very unethical Doug Mahugh is also pushing the same Microsoft line, which gets passed around by others who are associated with Microsoft. It's like a cult of money and power. Corruption is a key ritual, which the heavily-spammed ANSI pretends never happened. But to quote Brown’s predecessor: “This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.
“The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible.”
So, Microsoft got away with misconduct, who cares? Many people said the same thing when George Bush stole the elections. Whatever.
Microsoft’s obligations are by definition unethical and very much against ODF. That’s just how the company operates, for its shareholders. “[T]hat’s super screwy because “O”OXML is Microsoft’s format. ODF is the REAL open format,” says this one person to a peer/friend, later adding that the nature of this situation is “making ODF far more resilient against bugs, because they can easily be patched.” █