Back in 2003, over 800 blog posts ago, I decided to launch something I called the Standards Blog. Not surprisingly, it focused mostly on the development, implementation and importance of open standards. But I also wrote about other areas of open collaboration, such as open data, open research, and of course, open source software. Over time, there were more and more stories about open source worth writing, as well as pieces on the sometimes tricky intersection of open standards and open source.
Today is Document Freedom Day. As in the past 8 years we celebrate DFD on the last Wednesday of March all around the world. While the date is recommended this year DFD is being celebrated from March 16th to April 5th so far (we’ re still getting new registration as of this writing) .
The FSFE has handed over Document Freedom Day to us earlier this year and while it took us a bit of time to get familiar with the way the current DFD website handles the events registration we have been steadily gathering more and more locations all over the world. So Document Freedom Day is happening on the last Wednesday of March, which is March 30th this year and Latin America seems very active in promoting Open Standards. We are very happy to meet new people thanks to the effort and will also celebrate our local DFD in Phnom Penh but slightly later on April 5th. If you are in the area please drop by, and if not please check the Document Freedom Day website for an event in your area. Happy DFD!
World Standards Day is celebrated annually around the world to increase awareness of the role that standards play in the global economy. To help celebrate the importance of standards, SES - The Society for Standards Professionals and the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day Planning Committee co-sponsor an annual paper competition for individuals in the U.S. standards community. The 2016 paper competition winners will be announced and given their awards at the U.S. Celebration of World Standards Day, which will be held this year on October 27, 2016, at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.
One of the core topics of this blog -at least one of the main reasons it came to existence- was open standards: their benefits, their advantages, and their value as a fundamental component for digital innovation and ultimately software freedom. This is still the case of course, but today I will try to show how one open standard in particular, ODF, has failed in its approach until now and could very well make a remarkable comeback.
This is not to say that ODF is a bad idea or that it is not a good standard; it is all this and much more. However I have realized with the hindsight of several years since it became an official ISO standard that the expectations about its adoption and its development have been defined the wrong way. Hence the title of this post.
ODF - open document format - is an open, XML-based rich document format that has been adopted as the standard for exchanging information in documents (spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents), by many governments and other organisations (see, for example, here), including the UK Government. This is despite strong opposition by Microsoft; but I have seen Microsoft's proposed "open XML" standard and, frankly, it is huge and horrid (in the word of standards, these go together). If I remember correctly, the early draft I saw even incorporated recognition of early Excel leap-year bugs into the standard.
ODF is now a pukka ISO standard, maintained by OASIS, under the proud banner: "The future is interoperability".
My personal thoughts, below, are prompted by an ODF session at ApacheCon Core titled "Beyond OpenOffice: The State of the ODF Ecosystem" held by Louis Suárez-Potts (community strategist for Age of Peers, his own consultancy, and the Community Manager for OpenOffice.org, from 2000 to 2011), and attended by very few delegates - perhaps a sign of current level of interest in ODF within the Apache community. Nevertheless, and I am talking about the ODF standard here, not Apache Open Office (which is currently my office software of choice) or its Libre Office fork (which seems to be where the excitement, such as it is, is, for now), the standards battle, or one battle, has been won; we have a useful Open Document Format, standardised by a recognised and mature standards organisation, and even Microsoft Office supports it. That's good.
A free software advocate has created an editable version of the UK government’s Open Document Format manuals, the “ODF Guidance”. Making the texts available on the Github software development repository facilitates others to edit, update and translate the texts, explains Paolo Dongilli, uploaded the documents to Github on 28 October.
28 October 2015 - The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of OpenOffice 4.1.2. You can download it from the official website http://www.openoffice.org/download
Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 brings stability fixes, bug fixes and enhancements. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 or earlier are advised to upgrade.
The Open Document Format (ODF) is one such format. ODF was specified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), an industry consortium which aims to produce standards for e-business.
Key players in OASIS include the tech giants Sun Microsystems (now part of the Oracle) and IBM. Sun has been one of the main drivers of the format as it grew out of the format used by its free OpenOffice application. In 2006 the Open Document Format was approved jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as an international standard for office software.
Sun promised not to enforce any of its patents against implementations using the OpenDocument standard, although there can be much uncertainty associated with patents.
There is a new version of OpenOffice on the way. The suite of productivity tools has a long and stories history, and the Apache Software Foundation is now the steward of it. According to an announcement, development of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 is almost complete and the release is coming shortly.
The new version is slated to bring better Microsoft Office interoperability (including Sharepoint compatibility), as well as multiple improvements to all individual applications, including Writer, Impress, Draw, Calc, and Base.
Five years ago today marked the fork of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice and coincidentally the Apache Software Foundation put out news this weekend that a new version of OpenOffice is coming.
A new OpenOffice update, version 4.1.2, has been in preparation for a while. Born as a simple bugfix release, it became an occasion for some deep restructuring in the project: several processes have now been streamlined (and some are still in the works), new people are on board and infrastructure has been improved.
Now the wait is almost over, and we are approaching the final phases before the 4.1.2 release. But we still need help with some non-development tasks, like QA and final preparations (press release, release notes and their translation).