Emboldened by the state of Massachusetts decision last month to require the use of open-standard document formats in all state offices by Jan. 1, 2007, a group of open standards advocates Monday created a special interest group to promote the OpenDocument format.
OpenDocument is an open-standards document format created by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards to store data from desktop applications, such as word processing, presentation and spreadsheet software. OpenDocument is used by the open source OpenOffice.org desktop business application suite and is supported by Sun Microsystems StarOffice 8.
The budding OpenDocument Fellowship will add momentum to a growing trend among schools and public agencies to support open standards for the creation, storage and delivery of business documents, the group said.
ODFs mission includes “providing information about the standard such as the degree to which companies and their products are committed to supporting the format, and ensuring the compatibility of the standard across any software application or company,” the group said.
Founding members of the fellowship include Mark Taylor, executive director of the Open Source Consortium; Richard Rothwell, chairman of SchoolForge UK; Gary Edwards of OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee; and Adam Moore of Friends of OpenDocument.
Ironically, OASIS, a not-for-profit, IT industry e-business standards group that was originally reported to be among the founding members, in fact, is not. OASIS published the OpenDocument standard (PDF format) last May.
“The OpenDocument Fellowship … incorrectly stated that OASIS was a founding member,” OASIS media relations coordinator Carol Geyer told Ziff Davis Internet Tuesday. “We are not, but I understand a member of the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee, Gary Edwards, is.”
ODF member Edwards serves as an independent voting member of the OpenDocument TC.
“Everything is moving to the open Internet, and Open XML technologies are both the API, the file format, and the messaging layer for the next generation of Open Internet collaborative computing,” Edwards wrote in RedMonks blog recently. “No if, ands, or buts. Open XML technologies are essential to the Web 2.0. So essential that there is no Web 2.0 without XML.”
The OpenDocument standard, which was submitted Tuesday to the International Organization for Standardization for consideration, is based on XML schemas.
Taylor told Ziff Davis Internet, “We are keen that this is understood as an open standards initiative rather than just open source. The group already comprises many members who have nothing to do with open source, including members of the OASIS committee that defined the standard,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The creation of the new special interest group comes only a week after Microsoft Corp. announced that it would support Adobes PDF format in its upcoming Office 12 suite of applications, but that it would continue to not offer support for OpenDocument.
“The principle value of consortiums such as this one or other community efforts like Spreadopendocument.org, in my mind, is in education,” RedMonk open source industry analyst Stephen OGrady told Ziff Davis Internet. “The Open Document Format itself is not something to be sold to end users; they need to buy rather a product that supports that format.
“But these consortiums can do an excellent job of aggregating the information that can help illustrate why the format is important, and therefore I think they do have value. One only has to look at the impact Groklaw has had on SCO Groups anti-Linux efforts to appreciate the value of education,” OGrady said.