Open Document Standards

Here’s what the situation’s like today:


  • The OpenDocument format was originally developed by Sun Microsystems, but later it was handed over to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) consortium.
  • It is based on XML and it «meets the common definitions of an open standard, meaning the specification is freely available and implementable». It is an ISO standard (ISO 26300) as of 30/11/2006.
  • ODF includes file formats for word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and mathematical formulae.
  • Prominent office suites supporting OpenDocument include, KOffice, Google Docs, and IBM Lotus Symphony. A detailed list of applications and tools supporting ODF can be found here.
  • Several companies (Sun Microsystems, IBM, Novell are some examples) and governments (Norway, Belgium, the City of Munich, the French Gendarmerie among others) have announced their support/adoption of ODF or more generally «Open Document Standards». For a more detailed list of ODF adoption look here.
  • Yesterday (26/02/2008) Google published an article in support of ODF.


  • The Office Open XML is a file format specification designed, controlled and promoted my Microsoft.
  • It was submitted to ISO for standardization was initially rejected in 09/2007. It is being amended and will undergo a second vote in 03/2008. Microsoft has been criticized for using controversial methods in an effort to manipulate the voting process.
  • The need for an additional open document file format is not clear and it reminds me of the ridiculous BluRay-HD/DVD war.
  • The OOXML specification is over 6000 pages long, while the ODF spec is only 738 pages.

Microsoft also released (15/02/2008) the specs for the Microsoft Office Binary File Formats, which is a step in the right direction. However, admittedly the specs are quite a mess, and while most people blamed Microsoft for deliberately obfuscating the specs to hinder implementation, Joel Spolsky thinks it is the result of a standard that evolved over time and tried to remain backwards compatible and keep everyone happy.


2 σκέψεις σχετικά με το “Open Document Standards”

  1. Not true, the page is actually wrong. Google Docs supports importing .odt (word processing) and .ods (spreadsheet) file import & export, but not presentations, graphics or mathematical formulae. So it only partially supports the file format.


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