The FixMyDocuments campaign has compiled a list of over 15,000 editable documents from the European institutions not available in the Open Document Format. The ongoing campaign, started in September, is urging the European authorities to start using ODF. “Public administrations need to realise what impact they have on the market”, says campaign organiser Maël Brunet. “Public administrations need to ensure long-term sustainability of their editable documents, and ODF is the only ISO standard that is fully supported by most office tools, including open source.”
Brunet, director of European Policy at OpenForum Europe, summarised the initial results of FixMyDocuments, presenting the campaign at the OpenWorldForum conference in Paris. In the first 1.5 months, the campaign received links to over 15,000 editable documents published on the websites of the European institutions, all unavailable in the ODF format.
The European Commission recommends that for editable documents, the institutions should support as a minimum two ISO standards, the Open Document Format and Office Open XML. According to Brunet, the EC does neither. “The EC’s editable documents are hardly ever made available as ODF. But neither in the ISO OOXML standard: it is unclear how much of that standard is actually implemented in any software solution. The least the EC could do, is to put its policy into practice.”
“A policy is only as good as its implementation”, Brunet said in Paris. He argues that the EC made a mistake in 2008, not daring to settle on a single standard for editable documents. He pointed to a 2012 study that show how failing to choose between competing standards seems to offer more choice, but ends up harming users by reducing document interoperability and by increasing complexity for users.
According to Brunet, public administrations are slow to use the ODF document format because of inertia and because of their lock-in to proprietary tools. Their document scripts and document macro’s have made public administrations completely dependent on the office solutions of one dominant vendor, he explained in Paris. “They will have an enormous amount of legacy documents in this vendor’s proprietary formats.” Other public administrations hesitate to use ODF because there is no support on mobile platforms yet.
“Public administration confuse software with standards”, Brunet said. “As a result, they have lost control.”