February 28, 2007 2:56 PM PST

California may adopt OpenDocument

California may follow Massachusetts in making the OpenDocument Format the required standard for state agencies.

The OpenDocument Format (ODF) is a standard XML-based file format used by OpenOffice, an open-source application program supported by IBM and Sun Microsystems among others.

Similar to the ODF bills proposed in Texas and Minnesota, California Assembly bill AB 1668 would require that state agencies "become equipped to accept all documents in an open, XML-based file format for office applications, and shall not adopt a file format used by only one entity."

The bill was introduced on Friday by Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, and read on the floor of the state Legislature on Monday.

The bill is not yet scheduled for a vote, according to Leno's office, but if passed could go into effect as soon as January 1, 2008.

AB 1668's wording particularly excludes the use of proprietary file formats used only by one application, such as those found naturally in Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

While Microsoft has submitted its Office Open XML (OOXML) format for acceptance by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), OOXML is arguably viewed as a format proprietary to Microsoft Office. Companies like Sun and Microsoft do, however, offer a translator for converting files from Microsoft Word documents to ODF.

If the bill is passed, the ODF requirement would apply to all agencies, but be added as part of California's government code regulating the responsibilities of the Department of Technology Services.

An ODF requirement has already been implemented in Massachusetts. After complaints from disability-rights groups, the state also adopted ODF plug-ins, programs for making ODF usable by people with disabilities.

Leno also announced in January that he would be introducing Net neutrality legislation to prevent companies from controlling Internet infrastructure and consumer access based on content source or ownership.

See more CNET content tagged:
OpenDocument Format, agency, bill, California, XML

8 comments

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Great Idea
It's amazing that something coming from a San Francisco Democrat could be worthy of praise, but this sounds like a great idea. Trying to ram a proprietary format down our throats is the only way Micro$oft can perpetuate it's monopoly with M$ Office products, especially Word. If they are forced to use an open format, then any software company can create word processing programs we can use. Bye bye M$ monopoly and grossly inflated prices for M$ office products. Let's hope this creates a domino effect with other states doing the same. Eventually, M$ will be forced to come around, and (Bill Gates, cover your eyes) be forced to compete on a level playing field. Wow, what a concept!
Posted by C_G_K (169 comments )
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Microsoft Intervention Looming
Today, I've marked my calendar as the beginning of a ticking clock to see exactly how many days it takes for Microsoft to interv...ermmm...'LOBBY'...the California Assembly to reject this bill.

I'd be surprised if we didn't see any action before Friday or Monday evening.

If Microsoft DOES indeed interve...'LOBBY'...then it'll mark yet another state or country it has bough...'persuaded'...to reject ODF.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
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Grat idea to keep down the cost of govt
Why shouldn't Cal. and every other state do this? Obviously, the total cost of ownership of documents in ODF is less than .Doc. I want my money spent wisely and I want my tax pennies pinched, so, yeah, right on... this is a good piece of legislation.
Posted by asdf (241 comments )
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Cost down?
Wake up and smell reality. Your telling me that I (work in local Government) have to throw away a 10 year investment in a proven technology that works well for us, change the way we do business, eat the cost of training staff and installing software. And this will be cost effective when?
You want your taxes pinched? My IT budget has been reduced every year for the last 5 years. Want to donate some extra taxes so I can afford to do this??
Posted by Sir Limey (43 comments )
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Excellent!
I don't care who writes the documents or with what program, just so long as we publish public documents in public formats unaffected by commercial interests. Why on earth would we do anything else?
Posted by inthewoods (10 comments )
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How long 'til MS co-opts?
You can bet that MS has engineers dreaming up contingency plans for co-opting opendoc. As they tried with html and java - add a few "extra" "optional" "value-add" "consumer choice" "extended opendoc" features that only work in MS Office, make sure that all MS-certified techs know and become comfortable with these features, etc. Maybe they'll sign a no-lawsuit pledge if your word processing application uses MS's "value-add" features in its opendoc(-like) file format.

Hey Bill, the whole world's watching this time . . .
Posted by imhodudes (60 comments )
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