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ODF Alliance Continues to Grow and Build Out 74

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-worth-watching dept.
Andy Updegrove writes "As you may recall, a new organization called the ODF Alliance was formed on March 3 of this year to support the uptake of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) by governments. Yesterday, the ODF Alliance issued a press release announcing that it has more than tripled its membership to 138, has appointed a Managing Director with strong European experience (Marino Marcich), and is lobbying countries globally to vote for ODF in ISO. Overall, the picture is one of a growing organization that plans to be around for awhile, and particularly hopes to make its impact in Europe, from which a large number of its members have arrived, where governmental interest in ODF is highest, and risks to government CIOS therefore lowest."
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ODF Alliance Continues to Grow and Build Out

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @08:52AM (#15156164) Homepage Journal
    Full list of members can be found here [odfalliance.org] (and FAQ here) [odfalliance.org]

    I note that Apple is not a member - I suggest all slashdotters write to Apple to support ODF & join this alliance. After all, Apple is no longer relying on MS for a browser - why rely on MS for an office suite?
    • Heh, I think getting them to even add OpenDocument support would take precedence. Their Pages program, for example, has its own proprietary format but can export to HTML, text, PDF, Word... and NOT ODF.
    • by xirtam_work (560625) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:35AM (#15156393)
      Apple relies upon Microsoft making Mac software enormously, at least at present. The presence of Mac Office in the market place is a boon for Apple. One of the probable reasons for the current lack of a Spreadsheet in the iWork suite (which only includes Pages & Keynote) is an agreement between Microsoft and Apple.

      OpenOffice.org also does not run natively on Mac OS X. There is a clunky X11 version which is slow and horrible. I've heard of Koffice running on OS X but not seen it working myself.

      So, with no native applications using ODF on the Mac it's not surprising that Apple aren't a current supporter. I agree that AppleWorks and iWork should add on support for it in the future. I would be great to see an ODF framework released for the Mac that can translate between PDF/Quartz and ODF that would allow documents to be saved in and imported via ODF easliy for all applications in the future. This would be a huge boon for OS X, just like native support for PDF was to me when OS X was first released.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        OpenOffice.org also does not run natively on Mac OS X. There is a clunky X11 version which is slow and horrible.

        NeoOffice, on the other hand, is an OO.o fork that runs just fine and is much ahead of the OSX X11 version of OO.o. Too bad it's still based on OO.o 1.1 and can only read ODF...

      • I would be great to see an ODF framework released for the Mac that can translate between PDF/Quartz and ODF that would allow documents to be saved in and imported via ODF easliy for all applications in the future.

        Too bad such a thing doesn't make sense. PDF/Quartz is a presentation format, and contains information like "draw this character at these coordinates," while ODF needs semantic information like "this text string is the title of the document, which happens to be of type 'thesis.'" Converting from

        • I'm not sure I agree with your comment. Much of the Quartz display model is based on PDF. This is an outgrowth of NeXTSTEP (the forerunner of OS X) using 'Display Postscript' for it's display, from what I understand Quartz's similarity to PDF allowed Apple to implement PDF as a first class citizen on the Mac. Being able to convert ODF, which does contain formatting information along with content, to Quartz layout information would be very similar to converting it to PDF. So in effect you're accusing me of
          • No, I'm saying the opposite. Converting from ODF to PDF makes perfect sense -- it is, in effect, "rendering" the document. It's analogous to compiling a program, or printing a vector image, or whatnot.

            What I said didn't make sense was going backwards -- from PDF to ODF, which is what I thought you were asking for in your previous post (i.e. instantly having "ODF support" from all applications by virtually "printing," which is how the PDF support works).
      • OpenOffice.org also does not run natively on Mac OS X. There is a clunky X11 version which is slow and horrible. I've heard of Koffice running on OS X but not seen it working myself.

        The quicker they open all their code, the quicker people are going to do it. FOSS people are generally only interested in helping people who reciprocate.
    • Can ODF be compatible with the Apple office software (Pages & Keynote)?

      Keynote does some pretty fantastic stuff that is probably not compatible with the ODF presentation format. Otherwise, it would be great, even if ODF has to be revised to handle keynote.
    • Apple is no longer relying on MS for a browser - why rely on MS for an office suite?

      They're not. [apple.com]

      ODF support would be nice though.
    • Better yet, write to Apple and state that (like me) you won't buy their products until they show a true commitment to open (and patent-free) standards.
  • But does anyone feel as though this will really take off? I do not know a whole lot about this but I like the idea. Getting people behind something and getting them to take action are two different things.

    - Andrew
    • by Trigun (685027)
      shamelessly stolen from my website:

      Open Document Format (odf, or .odf) is ... doomed to failure, unless we make it useful.

      As it stands right now, ODF is nothing more than a rallying cry. The geeks of the world are tired of being held a slave to business demands. They don't want to have to support Microsoft Word, they want more flexibility, more control, and more fun. As of right now, they don't have the tools to do any of it. The tools are easy enough to build, given the right motivation, but what tools nee
      • > At the top of the list, I see the need for an enterprise-grade versioning and repository server. One that is connectable
        > from anywhere in the enterprise, with flexible security and controls that integrates into the enterprise architecture.
        > That might seem like a lot of buzzwords jammed into one little sentence, so I'll expand on that. Instead of saving your
        > document to a file, it will save it into a server. The server will save the document, and save subsequent changes. It
        > will have the
        • Yes, but more than that. CVS/subversion/WebDav/whatever can be the ultimate backend, but there needs to be better integration with programs like openoffice. If you have to use a third party program to save the document into the repository, then nobody is going to use it. Put it in the options as "Save to server" and then people will use it.
           
          • svn probably would be the best bet (it has versioning, braching, merging and other features), but it is for plaintext files. so this would require something that could use change information from the documents and represent it meaningfully. merging also could be a problem as it would require both server and user interface support.

            there were some talks about svn ability to pipe data through other software for storage or ability to work on "container" files (like zip in odf), but that would still be insuffici
            • Management tools: I.E. Ability to finalize documents, remove documents from the repository, control access to the documents, display revisions and users who revised, accessed, etc.
              • ahh, ok. i just assumed that is going together with versioning system as it would be pretty useless without such tools. svn has all that functionality... still for plaintext only :) (except "finalize documents", as i missed that one again ;) )
                • Also, using XML mining and standardized forms, a wizard could be greated to generate conglomerate reports from other reports using transforms and data-mining/screen scraping techniques. Ex. Grab pie chart from April 05 and place on current page. Using the repository as a data source, if the data changes in April 05, the pie chart would be automagically updated on the new report. Which could update your webpage, or your PDA, or whatever.

                  So, the whole thing would be like SVN on steroids, with a nice GUI i
      • My software is working on the presentation engine part -- from MSWord/OpenDocument to HTML or DocBook or RSS. It's called Docvert [docvert.org].
    • Really? Because I happen to be opposed to open document standards. They stifle innovation. You get boxed into a shortsighted format that's usually inadequate for your needs. While the idea of a generic standard that you can use with any program sounds appealing, in practice, it just doesn't work. It's kinda like communism. In any event, there are a plethora of generic open formats out there for use if people so choose. Plain text, RTF, DBF, just to name a few of the less exotic ones.
      • Believe me, I am all in favor of sending documents in plain text all the time. But I think that this is a good, realistic approach to some kind of standard. I agree that it is good to have options but from a developer's point of view it is also nice to know that you can output a _formatted_ document and have everyone be able to see it the say way you did (without having to use a PDF).

        - Andrew
      • You mean open document standards like SGML [coverpages.org], which was made a standard in 1986, and from which we have HTML and XML as a subset? If you try to make a document standard/language too all-encompassing, then it just becomes too complicated for average joe to use comfortably (and requires more bandwidth/memory-space, and more complex software to parse it).

        Proprietary standards should be unnecessary with languages like XML (though it does create rather verbose files). It's not open formats that are needed, it's
  • The hard part (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SapphoComet (943038) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:11AM (#15156248)

    The hard part will be keeping infighting to a minimum. Many times, organizations like this set out with great intentions and admirable goals, only to become very ineffective when infighting and internal empire-building take place.

  • Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but...

    I have a lot of reservations about getting the government involved with open source standards. The whole idea of government in the first place seems anti open source, anti competitive to me.

    Then there are privacy concerns. Nowadays, governments all over the world are bent on destroying our civil liberties. Especially since they are so involved in forcing DRM and copyrights on us. Once they are involved, what's to stop them from forcing design decisions upon the stand

    • Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but...

      Yes, you're just being paranoid. Governments are run by civil servants who just love standards and if they come on board then it forces everyone else to. If you can only submit somethign to your local govenment in ODF then you're not going to use M$ Word, are you? Unless, of course, M$ Word has embraced the ODF. See how it works.

      And, at the end of the day, if governments use ODF to write the plans for the Doomsday Machine it's not a misuse of the ODF anymore than it'

    • As much as a libertarian as I am, and as much as I would NORMALLY agree with your sentiment, not this time.

      This is not a government action...these are members of governmental organizations participating to come up with a standard. Governments become a problem when they mandate (they got da guns, doncha know) a standard without really working through an open process. In this case, there are enough other players, and there is no good way to mandate via force, so that this remains an open participatory exer

      • You make some good points, but where you lost me somewhat was here:

        By making it difficult to impossible to pass documents easily to other programs, Microsoft has forced a monopoly of convenience. An ODF standard, with enough large organization participants, can make interactivity simpler, make translation seamless, and open the door for other players in the Office Suite game.

        Microsoft only has guns/monopoly because of government protection of their patents. Without this cartel, open standards would pro

        • If you are saying the government is protecting Microsoft's format because of patent issues, then I have to disagree strongly. If there were no patent, then Microsoft wouldn't publish ANY of their specs, but would keep it secret. To work with Word, you would HAVE to have their product, and if there are enough users (by, say, giving a dumbed down version of Word with the OS) you effectively force people to use the Word format.

          In the beginning of Microsoft Word when they were not the uber suite, they suppo

    • Yes, you're paranoid, or plain illogical.

      A democratic government getting involved in open standards, in so much as using them, allows that government to be free of vendor lock-in for itself and its citizens viewing and using its own documents.

      As for privacy concerns, surely you would be more worried about a government that sticks with proprietry or secret standards and formats for its documents than one, that considers a well designed and documented standard with no apparent DRM involved?

      As for causing deat
    • Just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean that no one is watching you...

      Seriously, you might want to take a chill pill, ritalin, or whatever you use to calm down. I used to work for the US government and I can tell you that they are so far in bed with Microsoft that they aren't going to support ODF at all unless Microsoft does. Microsoft's usual "embrace and extend" strategy won't work with ODF, so they are trying to ignore it for the most part. If I was you, I'd stop worrying about whether ODF mig
      • If you really wanted to discuss what I believe, I think you'd want to at least be a little more civil rather than resorting to name calling. I was trying to be a little more civil in my post than I have been in the past but I guess it's still lost on some people.

        Yes, I do believe all governments, including the USA, are evil. Also, your point about them being in bed with Microsoft is well taken.

      • Microsoft's usual "embrace and extend" strategy won't work with ODF, so they are trying to ignore it for the most part.

        What makes you think this? Right now they are still attempting to push several less standard "standards" so they have less work, but should those efforts fail what is stopping them from using the usual embrace and extend? HTML is a more stringently defined and controlled standard, but they've managed to embrace and extend it just fine. No, they are not ignoring it because they have no ot

    • Corporations with too much control over information can be just as annoying as a Government with too much control... the only difference is that the Government (or the people in it) want your vote and loyalty. The Companies just want your money.
    • Once they are involved, what's to stop them from forcing design decisions upon the standards which make it easier for them to control and watch us?

      I think you're confusing government bureaucrats with politicians. Having worked for a government IT bureau, I can say that open documents would be welcomed and would have made our lives a hell of a lot easier. My team was charged with managing the 13 step process of bill creation and adoption for the legislature, which included no less than 6 legacy program

    • No offence but I think you are getting paranoid :) Remember the government is here to help everyone, not to be a pain in the ass. Cause if that all the government is to you, the why don't you vote for dictatorship or chaos... :) - where are you if you can't trust your own government... I'm from Denmark - Europe so it not a problem to me :)

      I have a lot of reservations about getting the government involved with open source standards. The whole idea of government in the first place seems anti open source,

    • Standards are made by expert committees with input from all kinds of people from universities through to businesses. Governments rarely adopt them into legislation, but when they do there is usually good cause. They are a convenient way of, for instance, mandating that your electrician does not leave bare live wires around your house, or that your pipes will not burst the first time there is a little over pressure on your water main (safety standards or codes). They are also a convenient way of preventing v
  • by porneL (674499) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @09:42AM (#15156445) Homepage

    Is there a free, small and easy to install plug-in that provides ODF import in popular versions of MS Office?

    I can't just send ODF files to people with attached note "Download 50MB of OpenOffice or switch to Linux and KOffice".

    • Actually, it's not 50 MB, it's - 76.3 MB, at least for The latest release for Windows (OOo_2.0.1_Win32Intel_install.exe). I think that that it is rubbish. I had to torrent it FFS, to ease the load on the servers. But I suppose a lot of people torrent Office suites!
      • And MSOffice for mac weighed in at 600+mb, not sure about the windows version, and didn't include a drawing program or a database by default (tho it did have a mail client which openoffice doesn't).

        No point complaining about size when the nearest competitor is much larger... If you don't like downloading 75mb of openoffice, you can always buy a copy on CD.
    • by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @10:48AM (#15157052)
      Why should they send a Word file to you and basically imply "Spend $300 on Word, and waste 300 MB of space on it."
      • too bad i already commented here - i would gladly spend my modpoints on that ;)
      • Because most people already have word, and for those that don't, word file support is almost universal, and even when they cannot view word files there are innumerable small word file readers/filetype translators. As much as I love ODF that argument is worthless for the most part.
        • Word Readers have to be sought out and installed, and most of them (the non-MS ones) are capable of making mistakes in the more complex stuff.

          Lastly, what about when Office2007 comes out, and the formats change? It'll take months or years for people to reverse-engineer the new formats.

          The other thing that bugs me is that it's mostly basic text that people are sending in Word form. I mean, it's like a list of twenty names and times, and they make a Word file that could just as easily be a .txt or a .rtf
    • I can't just send ODF files to people with attached note...

      You can if they ask you to.
    • by donaldm (919619) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @11:53AM (#15157720)
      Well if enough people did this maybe business would realise that there are other document formats other than Microsoft's *.doc format (it is NOT a standard just something that has been erroneously accepted as one) and they better support it. Sometimes you just have to make a stand and I think this is what the EU is trying to do.

      It never ceases to amaze me the lemming mentality of Business when it come to using propriety formats and how they seem to think that it allows for portability and interoperability (Biz talk) when that format is under the control (ie. Intellectual Property) of one company. What is even stranger is that format sometimes cannot even be read properly by the same companies software after a few years. So if you are part of a council, hall of records .... etc were they need to be able to keep documents for 100's of years then using something that has a closed format is a rather a stupid move, hence the need for an Open, Portable Document format.

      Please look at the history of standards, get yourself in the right frame of mind before you do and it is quite fascinating, particularly when you relate it to today's society.

      Yes I have worked in a Standards Laboratory hence my signature.
      • It never ceases to amaze me the lemming mentality of Business when it come to using propriety formats and how they seem to think that it allows for portability and interoperability (Biz talk) when that format is under the control (ie. Intellectual Property) of one company

        Well, most companies are not worried about document formats, they just want to be able to communicate with anybody (within the company or outside of it) in a straightforward way. At the moment, using MS Office provides the way to do that

    • Sure just open in OpenOffice and export to PDF, or open in some other office application, print to file with a postscript printer driver and run ps2pdf and then send it.
      Same interoperability we've had for years. ;-)
      • PDF and Postscript lack the structure needed to edit files (headings, paragraphs). So just so you all know, this would retain MSWord as the source format. Converting to ODF however would mean an open standard source format.
  • In soviet Russia, open standards support you!
  • If ODF can help a taxpayer-funded government save $$$ in the long run, it sounds like a good thing.

    I totally agree with the security & privacy reasons for ODF, but cutting costs may be more important to some gov'ts (read: voters!) This is not an anti-vendor, just pro-taxpayer.

  • What's a "CIOS"?

    It is "Communication Institute for Online Scholarship" or the plural of "Chief Information Officer" according to Google.

    The original article has "CIOs" (note the lower-case "s") suggesting the latter usage, but it still could be anything. Creepy Informal Office Sleepover?

    A decent writer/editor would have corrected, explained or expanded that.
  • (Yet Another Markup Language Format)

    Wow an open source markup language for sharing documents! What innovation! >:->

    I wonder if it'll become as highly used as TeX, Postscript or RTF? :-D
  • Apparently M. Marchich is http://www.dutkoworldwide.com/media_center/latest _ news/1056/ [dutkoworldwide.com]
    In his resume they focus on his Latin American experience, maybe the ODF is confusing Europe and Latin America ?
    (on the up side Mr Marchich employer is using apache on FreeBsd so they cannot be all bad :-))

    Anyway it is a little bit worrying when the people that are supposed to support the "good side" are using the same processes as the "bad guy".

    I would not mind if the ODF alliance would hire M. Marchick as a consultant,
  • When you use a closed format, you are shutting someone out. That's more or less the definition, why would it be closed if it wasn't to keep someone out of it?

    Now, why would you - you, not some corporation, but you, personally - want to shut anyone out?
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @03:30PM (#15159680) Homepage
    I started to write an open source Sharepoint clone a few years ago to support ODF documents.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately for my income), one of my consulting customers liked an early prototype and bought out the rights (unfortunately making it proprietary) and funded me for several months to improve it. They had me discard the OpenOffice.org backend and only support Microsoft Office documents, which was also too bad.

    There are now some good open source projects like Daisy that support ODF.

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