The Document Foundation, the organisation supporting the development of LibreOffice, is calling for supporters to promote the use of Open Document Format (ODF). Standardisation organisation OASIS would welcome and assist renewed marketing efforts, as would the Open Source Initiative, says OSI director Italo Vignoli.
Vignoli, who is involved in marketing LibreOffice, hopes to build a group of ODF advocates to educate the general public and raise public sector awareness of the importance of the open ICT standard.
ODF (ISO 26300), a format specification for office applications such as spreadsheets, presentations and text documents, is supported by many commonly used office productivity tools. The standard is recognised by most European governments, including France and the United Kingdom, as well as by the European institutions.
However, most public sector organisations continue to rely on a mix of document formats that are either proprietary or not fully supported. This causes document interoperability problems and increases complexity. It is also a barrier to public administrations that want to use open source office solutions.
Interoperable and valid
The Dutch government is one of the EU Member States that contribute to ODF development. It has co-funded automated interoperability tests to check the portability of office documents across applications and operating systems.
The Netherlands is also supporting the ODF Plugfest, a series of hackathons where software developers improve ODF interoperability. Most of the results of these hackathons and other ODF-related development are documented on the OpenDocument Format Community Wiki.
In addition, ODF interoperability has been improved in France by cities and ministries, as well as by public services in Germany and Switzerland.
Another test method to check the validity of document formats was announced two weeks ago at the LibreOffice conference in Tirana (Albania).
LibreOffice since version 6.1 has relied on this kind of automatic validation to help software developers resolve interoperability issues. “Our validity tests complement the interoperability tests,” Thorsten Behrens, team leader and LibreOffice specialist for the German IT service provider CIB software, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory (OSOR). “It means that every bug fixed by the latter will stay fixed, because otherwise build tests will fail.”
OASIS, meanwhile, is readying version 1.3 of the ODF specification. This version will further improve document interoperability, enhance semantic interoperability and add support for OpenPGP encryption. The first draft of ODF 1.3 is expected in early 2019, and OASIS could publish the specification in mid-2019.
The actual work to include all the improvements in the standard is done by Public Software CIC, a UK-based non-profit. Its “Community of ODF Specification Maintainers” (the COSM project) funds the work of two ODF specialists.
The COSM project would welcome funding to help prepare the actual standard from the expert contributions, Simon Phipps, founder of Public Software CIC and President of OSI, told OSOR. “ODF is an international standard without patent lock-in and that makes it possible for open source projects to implement it freely, unlike standards with royalty-bearing patents embedded in them by their authors,” Phipps said.
OpenDocument Format Community Wiki
Nantes’ support for ODF
France’s ministerial certification of LibreOffice
LibreOffice support by the German cities of Munich, Freiburg and Jena, the Swiss Federal Court and the IT support centre for the Swiss canton of Waadt
LibreOffice conference 2018