November 10, 2005 4:00 AM PST

OpenDocument format gathers steam

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Even vendors that do not sell Office-style productivity applications have an interest in OpenDocument, RedMonk's O'Grady said.

An e-mail company, for example, could bake support for the format into its software and allow a user to embed a fully formatted document within a message without having to launch a separate application, he said. Another possibility is for a wiki server to use XML to programmatically extract data from OpenDocument-formatted documents.

Government interest
Because OpenDocument-based products are not widely used, the financial incentive for corporate or governmental customers is still not thoroughly tested, analysts and industry executives said.

NASCIO's Gallt said that state governments are looking at whether Massachusetts can make the case that adopting OpenDocument will provide a compelling return on investment.

Massachusetts state officials argued the move will save millions of dollars and that an "open" format developed through a multiparty standards organization ensures the state "sovereignty" over documents and electronic public records.

That policy, however, is being challenged by the state senate, which is considering the creation of a special committee with industry representatives to approve technical standards. Various industry groups have criticized the move as well, saying it limits the choice of office suites for customers.

Gallt said that the other states' agencies exploring OpenDocument are doing so in a far more scaled-down and less visible way than Massachusetts.

"It's still, in a lot of ways, behind-the-scenes discussions and evaluations at this point, because it is such an emotional and volatile topic, as Massachusetts has found," he said.

Some foreign governments are looking seriously at OpenDocument, IBM's Sutor said. "Particularly in Europe, to a lot of folks, it seems like a fairly obvious direction," he said.

The French state tax agency said Wednesday it intends to migrate 80,000 desktops next year from Microsoft Office 97 to OpenOffice, an open-source product that uses OpenDocument. The move will save about $34 million dollars, the agency's chief technology officer told ZDNet UK.

Those moves toward adoption suggest that the time is right for Microsoft's rivals to take on the software giant and its dominance in desktop products. The ODF Summit's technical and marketing initiatives could make OpenDocument-based products more viable replacements.

"We seem to have reached some important point where people feel this is a must-win battle," said Sutor. "I think this is critically important."

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK contributed to this report.

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Acts of Desperation
This is such an act of desperation from these companies who dont have the clout to compete with MS head on and courting on desperate acts like giving away free software in the hopes to kill MS. In the very long shot that they successes not only are they shrinking a industry but also companies like IBM which are the primary cause of USs trade deficit is hurting one of the key US export after selling their PC business and brands like ThinkPad to a Chinese company. Brainless fools are they.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There is a brainless fool here, but its not IBM...
Switching to an open, standard format for document storage is not an act of despiration. It is a way of looking forward 5, 10 and 20 years down the road and trying to come up with a way for people to keep their information in a format that allows them to chose whatever office productivity programs they want. It allows choosing these programs on features, costs, etc. as opposed to being forced to use a a certain program because the vendor LOCKED them in.

Imagine buying a house where the contractor used custom screws that he or she patented, and if you wanted to removed any of them, you had to buy a special screwdriver that only he/she sold, for an exhorbitant amount of money. Would you want that contractor building your house?
Posted by Kindred_ (10 comments )
Link Flag
How come you are saying that "companies like IBM...
... which are the primary cause of USs trade deficit which is hurting one of the key US export after selling their PC business and brands like ThinkPad to a Chinese company" when it was Microsoft which almost brought IBM (which was then headed Lou Gerstner) to its knees when it depending at that time on Microsoft delivering on OS/2; some of us do appear to have a very short memory span, don't we, well read again "Who Killed OS/2?
How Big Blue Blew It, Though Redmond Helped: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.linuxandmain.com/features/os2retro.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.linuxandmain.com/features/os2retro.html</a>

when we were all looking forward "To Boldly Go . . . into a VisualAge for Java with our Warp cylinders firing on all engines. Perhaps it is pay back time. Are you getting scared of the Chi.... Dragons at nights or what, poor LOU, he was perhaps not the "techie" he should have been to understand what Redmond was up to at the time; anyway, MS$ looks like a good investment in the aeronautical and space industries as the "Western Hemispheric Golden Eagles" will be there to protect "you" and WARP you out of danger since you are apparently beginning to have nightmares about the "Dragons" which now have a significant amount of control over IBM's ThinkPad brands. LOL!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Link Flag
What has "the vendors who are attended...
... the ODF Summit were Microsoft competitors" has to do with the "fact" that the international business communities such as financial institutions, insurance companies, stock traders... let alone governmental agencies around the world -- in addition to a whole host of others which all require "unrestricted access" (and no lock-ins) to data and collaborative capabilities have in the recent past been left to the "whims" and "fancies" of a particular company from Redmond that apparently has not motivation to make the working lives of individuals as well as the "international business consultant" any much easier like the adoption of the OpenDocument Standards would!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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Opening up the market.
I personally think that the OpenDoc formate is an outstanding idea. I won't say it's completly ready for prime time yet, but it has more promise than those formats created for proprietary reasons. I think that all companies that would be affected by this standard would want to play a role in it's creation and development.

I don't find validity in the argument that we should all just learn to live with Microsoft Office because of it's 90% market saturation. I don't like Microsoft Office and I never have. I don't much care for OpenOffice either. I use WordPerfect Office and I like it over any of those others. That is a personal preference. Now WordPerfect uses it's own proprietary format (based on SGML and DocBook I believe), but at least it hasn't changed since version 6.x.

Another thing to keep in mind is that other 10% of the market that doesn't use Microsoft Office may well be 1,000,000+ people. I don't believe any company should be force to use the OpenDoc format, but I do think that every company that makes an office suite should be apart of the OASIS group (of course by choice).

My thinking here is you have a chance to create a format that is open and free and would allow for one document standard that's backwards compatable and forward thinking. It's not perfect, but nothing is. It is one step closer to a Utopia for all computer users. Besides shouldn't a program be defined by it's productivity and robustness and not by it's document format.

I just think we have a chance to create a truly usable format for the interchange of documents that would allow seamless (albeit not perfect) interchange. I think it also allows people to use the software that suites them best and not make buying decisions base on a format.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Besides shouldn't a program...
... be defined by it's productivity and robustness and not by it's document format"... makes the paradigm of the "JAVA" environment where one can build JAVA Applets, Servlets and Applications quickly and quite easily (and being able to - Write Once, Run Anywhere) comes to mind. To this comment I would like to add the feature/function of "XML I-N-T-E-R-O-P-E-R-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y with other OEMs which it is believe is a major board of contention between the OASIS Group and the Microsoft Corporation.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
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Good Point
Thats the point many people people keeping missing. No one is forcing anyone to use any type of document format or office software. What the commonwealth of massachusetts and other companies are saying is "hey, we are creating documents that we plan on having for decades, and we want them in a format that we know is accessible now and will be in the future".
I personally use microsoft office everyday at work and at home, but I know that if I want to keep a document around for a long time or if I know I need to share it with a diverse group of people, I chage things to a text file or a csv. ANYONE can read these formats which makes them fantastic for sharing information. What openDocument provides is the next evolution in these formats, by providing advanced funcationality to a format that again, ANYONE can read and use.
Posted by Kindred_ (10 comments )
Link Flag
Open format != open source
The lead didn't SAY open formats and open source are the same. It said these two trends are happening at the same time. That's technically correct, and there's also a large overlap.

But I think putting the two thoughts so close together, and putting open source so close to the top, does a disservice by feeding into people's misconceptions that adopting OpenDocument might mean being forced to adopt open source.

As the article went on to say, Corel Corp. was represented. They intend to support OpenDocument in a completely closed-source product, WordPerfect.

Discussing open formats for what they are may not be as attention-grabbing as discussing it in the context of other trends. But it would certainly be more informative.
Posted by (54 comments )
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Fair point
We certainly didn't want conflate the open source and open format/open standard terms. And I do think the article makes clear that closed vendors like Microsoft can implement the OpenDocument standard. But in the interest of being as clear as possible, an editor will make a change to the lead sentence.
Posted by mlamonica (330 comments )
Link Flag
A bloody good idea
Open document is a very good idea.
It would be a difference similar to the Internet vs proprietry Bulletin Boards.
Remember the old AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, or MSN networks. Well they eventually abandoned their proprietry protocols for the TCPIP protocols that we call the Internet. When you look at the measure of innovation that these old BBS networks had compared to an open platform like the Web, and then one may understand how an open document standard can transform document innovation. It's really simple to understand. An open standard or platform leads to much greater innovation due to the variety and sheer amount of people working with it.

How can you argue with that. It's simple mathematics.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well Said
You make an excellent point. Standardizing the file format will fuel innovation that would provide benefits for everyone. And standardizing documents is only the tip of the iceberg.

We need evolvable standards for email messages, instant messages, blog entries, etc. Then the Internet experience will really get interesting.
Posted by joepwro (6 comments )
Link Flag
Inaccurate Information
Openoffice.org is not based on StarOffice, rather, the new StarOffice suites are based on Openoffice.org. Whoever wrote the article DIDN'T DO HIS OR HER RESEARCH!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Information is accurate, you're mistaken
If you are going to complain that something is innacurate, make sure it actually is. Both StarOffice and OpenOffice are based off of the same source code - the StarOffice source code. StarOffice preceeded OpenOffice, which came into existence when Sun released it into open source. StarOffice contains some features that are not able to be open sourced, so there are still some differences between the two.
Posted by cristianodiaz (31 comments )
Link Flag
You may be mistaken on this
OpenOffice and StarOffice are based on the same code most of which is written by Sun. StarOffice is simply OpenOffice with some additional commercial components. If you look at the contributors to OpenOffice.org and the managment comittee you will find that they mostly work for Sun.

In addition the OpenDocument format was largely developed by Sun or if you like OpenOffice.org. The chair and secretary of the OASIS organisation which developed OpenDoc work for Sun and are also members of OpenOffice.org
Posted by andrew243 (9 comments )
Link Flag
long overdue
I welcome this initiative!
It will open the door to a document sharing while not having to worry about the readability at the recipients side.

This can not have anything to do with a move against MicroSoft, but have you noticed the response of MicroSoft?! It is exactly that sort of attitude that is the problem. Let there be an open standard for sure!

And then; have you noticed how nice and compact an OpenDocument is? Take a MsWord Document, convert it to OpenDocument and see the difference!

Anyway, the converiance of having a shared standard, a document that you are sure to be able to open on all applications should be welcomed by all and is long overdue.
Posted by heart4uganda.org (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
way to go openDoc!
Most interesting thing of all is to see Microsoft
going bust in 5 years - mark my words
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/cassette_deck_nakamichi_1000.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/cassette_deck_nakamichi_1000.htm</a>
Posted by 208774626618253979477959487856 (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poor reasearch yet again.
Someone else pointed out an inaccuracy in this article I'll point out another.

Abiword and KOffice also support OpenDocument
Posted by angrykeyboarder (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ODF, etc.
While I agree that Microsoft has somewhat of a monopoly on alot of things and costs are somewhat high, I also TRY to look at the fact that if were not for the agressiveness of Bill Gates we would not, in all likelyhood sitting her being able to write these words as IBM and Aplle were really tryoing to maintain corporate and weathy clients. Remember that Microsoft brought PC to the mainstream. And why should Microsoft share codes with everyone else, but those peole do not need to share codecs with Microsoft????????
Posted by corredorlobo (15 comments )
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