Consortium launched to support OpenDocument

The Open Document Fellowship has been created to give the OASIS Open Document Format added momentum, as the war of words between Sun and Microsoft gets bitter

The Open Document Fellowship was launched on Monday to add momentum to what appears to be a growing movement to support the open standard for the production, storage and dissemination of documents.

The Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, was developed by standards body OASIS. Last month, it received its first major seal of approval when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first public body to insist on the use of an open standard such as OpenDocument.

The Open Document Fellowship says it has been formed to promote the OpenDocument format and that its aims include providing information about the standard "such as the degree to which companies and their products are committed to supporting the format" and ensuring the compatibility of the standard across "any software application or company".

The timing of the creation of a "fellowship" to promote open standards for documents comes just a week after Microsoft announced that it would, support Adobe's PDF format in Office 12, but would not support OpenDocument.

The founding members of the fellowship include OASIS, the Open Source Consortium and SchoolForge UK. Adam Moore, of Friends of OpenDocument, called on "all responsible citizens in the digital market place" to "embrace ODF as the central focus for document production".

The formation of the Open Document Fellowship also underlines the war of words that has broken out over this issue between Sun and the open source community on one hand and Microsoft on the other.

At the end of September, Sun's Simon Phipps posted in his blog that Sun was "already working on a move that raises the bar on what it means to create a truly open standard" and had sent OASIS "a new statement" saying that the company promised "unless you're intending to sue Sun in connection with ODF, you can use ODF with confidence and ignore the [Microsoft] FUD."

Phipps was unhappy that Brian Jones, a Microsoft Office project manager, had blogged that because Sun may own intellectual property relating to OpenDocument, anyone implementing OpenDocument would need a licence from Sun, and would have to supply Sun with a reciprocal licence. Phipps described this as an attempt to 'smear Sun'.