OpenDocument group 'optimistic' on certification

Alliance promoting OpenDocument standard says its lobbying will pay off when standardization body meets next month.
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

The recently formed OpenDocument Format Alliance is expressing its confidence that the file format will be approved by the International Organization for Standardization next month.

The alliance, which was launched last month to promote the use of the OpenDocument standard in governments, said this week that it has been lobbying various organizations to ensure that the standard achieves ISO certification.

"The ODF Alliance is now actively supporting adoption of the OpenDocument Format as a worldwide standard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)," the group said in a statement. "The ODF Alliance and its members have contacted various national voting entities recommending approval and are optimistic of a positive outcome."

Andy Updegrove, a lawyer at Boston-based tech law firm Gesmer Updegrove, has been closely following developments related to ODF in his Standards Blog. He commented Wednesday that his sources are also optimistic that ISO approval will be granted.

"From what I understand from other sources, a favorable vote, perhaps involving the participation of an unusually high percentage of eligible members, is not in doubt," he wrote.

ISO certification is thought to be key to the wider adoption of the standard by governments.

The alliance also announced this week that it has more than tripled in size since its launch last month. It now has a total of 138 members, including government bodies such as the city of Bloomington, Ind.; the National Archives of Australia; and the city council of Bristol, U.K.

The OpenDocument format is supported by a number of productivity applications including the open-source productivity suite OpenOffice 2.0, Sun's StarOffice 8 and IBM's Workplace software. Microsoft has declined support for the standard and is instead hoping to achieve ISO standardization for its Office Open XML file formats.

Last month, Microsoft joined a group involved in the ISO standardization process for OpenDocument, but claimed its presence in the group would have "no impact" on the voting.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from New York.

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