Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Monday, May 29, 2006

ODF on the Move in France & Denmark

OpenDocument Format (ODF) is making news in Europe, again.

The French government has officially issued for public comment an interoperability framework -- Referentiel General Interoperabilite -- that recommends the use of OpenDocument Format (ODF) in its technical interoperability section (in French). The intial public comment period, which began in April, ends on June 15. The end of the entire comment process is September 2006.

This has been blogged about briefly in a few places very recently -- Groklaw,, Sun's Erwin Tenhumberg and here (in french) -- but I wanted to spread the news and a few more details.

Specifically, the RGI proposes 3 things:
Section RIT0025:

It is RECOMMENDED to use Open Document Format for exchanging semi-structured office documents (such as word processing, presentation and spreadsheet documents).

Section RIT0026

It is MANDATORY to accept every document in Open Document Format for exchanging semi-structured office documents (such as word processing, presentation and spreadsheet documents)

Section RIT0027

It is FORBIDDEN to migrate from some often used format inside an organization to any other format than the Open Document Format.
(Translation courtesy of Tristan Nitot)
So what does it all mean? It's not a tipping point, nor even a final decision in France. But it is another step forward for ODF. Another government has officially tabled ODF for consideration.

In Denmark, as blogged by John Gotze here, the Ministry of Science is taking an interim step forward with ODF, requiring that all online documents and communications be published in ODF for a six-month trial period. Why the half-step? Pressure, mainly from leading members of the Danish Parliament like Morten Helveg Petersen who tabled a motion to require open standards that was debated two weeks ago. Although it faced heavy opposition from the Minister of Science, mainly based on the issue of how much an open standards mandate would cost, there was enough momentum to force a trial period for ODF beginning September 1st.

The ODF movement is more than afoot. One thing it could use now, however, is a strong quantitative analysis of the economic implications of open standards, and ODF in particular. Based on early returns from Massachusetts and Denmark, this is a crucial stumbling block for governments (other than intensive MS lobbying) -- understanding how much the move to open standards will cost.

OASIS, are you listening?


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