A group of public administrations, members of the open source business alliance, a trade group, extended by one month the deadline of their request for help to build in support for OOXML, Microsoft's document format, in free and open source office suites. The group also published the English translation of their specifications for the renewed call for tender.
The group is looking for support to correctly embed fonts and for fixes for formatting issues involving frames, images, tables, lists and comments.
The trade group's earlier call was posted on 14 December, along with specifications in German. It resulted in a single offer, explains Matthias Stürmer, spokesperson for the alliance's 'Office Interoperability working group'. "We did not manage to publish the specs in English earlier and that limited the response. Now we are able to procure globally."
In the specification, the working group explains that they are looking for improvements to the existing import and export filters that handle documents in the OOXML format in LibreOffice and OpenOffice. These are two closely related free and open source office suites.
From the specification's introduction: "A pragmatic approach is desired that, by making specific corrections to the OOXML filter and other software components in LibreOffice and OpenOffice as necessary, provides as true as possible a visualisation of OOXML documents as they appear in Microsoft Office, versions 2007 and 2010."
These improvements will make it easier for public administrations to move to vendor-independent and free and open source office suites, argues the working group. It organised a workshop last October, explaining that public administrations that already use free and open source office suites struggle with the OOXML format. Most pressing, they said, are getting the document lay-out correct and tracking and accepting changes.
The working group hopes to receive multiple bids before 29 February. They intend to publish the eventual solution as open source, using the Apache Licence version 2. They intend and integrate it into the LibreOffice project.
Statement by OSB-Alliance
Statement by OSB-Alliance from December 2011
English specification (pdf)
German specification (pdf)
Earlier Joinup news item