ODF supporters hold 'Document Freedom Day'

OpenDocument Format supporters across the world have tried to raise awareness about the implications of formats no longer being supported by proprietary software
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Twenty-two organisations across 60 countries have taken part in Document Freedom Day to raise awareness about what happens when formats are no longer supported by proprietary software.

Inspired by the five-year-old Software Freedom Day, the Document Freedom Day (DFD) initiative is being driven by supporters of the OpenDocumentFormat Alliance (ODF Alliance) and other organisations, such as the Free Software Foundation Europe, which is currently hosting DFD's website.

Despite the high-profile controversy surrounding Microsoft's attempts to gain International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification for its Office Open XML (OOXML) standard, Andrew McRae, a Google Australia senior software engineer and also president of the Australian chapter of the Internet Society, told ZDNet.com.au that DFD is only intended to raise awareness for ODF.

"We're not trying to focus on any standard," McRae said. McRae, also a member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (ITEF), said the goal of open document standards is similar to open web standards.

"From that perspective, we felt that the value of open standards is that it allowed the internet to really explode with innovation," McRae said. "In a similar way, we felt that open standards for documents are important as well."

"We didn't want [DFD] to be about any particular standard or issue and we tried hard to avoid that," McRae said.

McRae said there is nothing in principle wrong with two standards existing side by side. "In terms of having a second standard — similar to internet protocol having a second protocol — as long as they work together and are fully supported, then in the internet we find that does work… There are multiple [document] standards existing today, so we need to ensure there is interoperability, a way of being able to move and share documents now and in the future and that software exists to interpret these standards."

But, for now, as far as the organisers of DFD are concerned, ODF is the only truly open format that meets general office needs, while Microsoft's OOXML only comes close.

"[OOXML] fails the test for an open standard in various ways, including an unclear legal status, as well as inclusion of and reference to proprietary technologies. It has all the signs of a vendor-specific format that only Microsoft will be able to implement completely," the group wrote on its site.

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