OpenDocument adoption: Difference between revisions

From Encyc
No edit summary
Line 118: Line 118:
=== Peru ===
=== Peru ===
In [[2002]], [[Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñes]], a [[lawyer]] and [[Congressman]] of the Republic of [[Perú]], [ wrote a letter] to Microsoft Peru raising questions about free and permanent document access with proprietary formats.   
In [[2002]], [[Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñes]], a [[lawyer]] and [[Congressman]] of the Republic of [[Perú]], [ wrote a letter] to Microsoft Peru raising questions about free and permanent document access with proprietary formats.   
=== [[Slovakia]] ===

=== Other ===
=== Other ===

Revision as of 12:05, 22 April 2007

This following is an overview of governments and other organizations around the world that are evaluating the use of OpenDocument, an open document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents. See Standard office document formats debate for more information about the ongoing adoption debate.

United States


The US state of Massachusetts has been examining its options for implementing XML-based document processing. In early 2005, Eric Kriss, Secretary of Administration and Finance in Massachusetts, was the first government official in the United States to publicly connect open formats to a public policy purpose: "It is an overriding imperative of the American democratic system that we cannot have our public documents locked up in some kind of proprietary format, perhaps unreadable in the future, or subject to a proprietary system license that restricts access." [1]

At a September 16 2005 meeting with the Mass Technology Leadership Council Kriss stated that he believes this is fundamentally an issue of sovereignty. [2] While supporting the principle of private intellectual property rights, he said sovereignty trumped any private company's attempt to control the state's public records through claims of intellectual property. [3]

Subsequently, in September 2005, Massachusetts became the first state to formally endorse OpenDocument formats for its public records and, at the same time, reject Microsoft's proprietary XML format, now named Microsoft Office Open XML format (see WordprocessingML). This decision was made after a two-year examination of file formats, including many discussions with Microsoft, other vendors, and various experts. Microsoft Office, which has a nearly 100% market share among the state's employees, does not currently support OpenDocument formats. Microsoft had indicated that OpenDocument formats will not be supported in new versions of Office, even though they support many other formats (including ASCII, RTF, and WordPerfect), and analysts believe it would be easy for Microsoft to implement the standard. If Microsoft chooses not to implement OpenDocument, Microsoft will disqualify themselves from future consideration. Several analysts (such as Ovum) believe that Microsoft will eventually support OpenDocument. On 6 July 2006 Microsoft announced that they would support the OpenDocument format and create a plugin to allow Office to save to ODF.

After this announcement by Massachusetts supporting OpenDocument, a large number of people and organizations spoke up about the policy, both pro and con (see the references section). Adobe, Corel, IBM, and Sun all sent letters to Massachusetts supporting the measure. In contrast, Microsoft sent in a letter highly critical of the measure. A group named "Citizens Against Government Waste" (CAGW) also opposed the decision. The group claimed that Massachusetts' policy established "an arbitrary preference for open source," though both open source software and proprietary software can implement the specification, and both kinds of developers were involved in creating the standard (CAGW, 2005). However, InternetNews and Linux Weekly News noted that CAGW has received funding from Microsoft, and that in 2001 CAGW was caught running an astroturfing campaign on behalf of Microsoft when two letters they submitted supporting Microsoft in Microsoft's anti-trust case were found to have the signatures of deceased persons (Linux Weekly News). James Prendergast, executive director of a coalition named "Americans for Technology Leadership" (ATL), also criticized the state's decision in a Fox News article (Prendergast 2005). In the article, Prendergast failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of ATL. Fox News later published a follow-up article disclosing that fact (FOX News, 2005; Jones, September 29 2005).

State Senator Marc R. Pacheco and State Secretary William F. Galvin have expressed reservations about this plan. Pacheco held a hearing on October 31, 2005, on the topic of OpenDocument. Pacheco did not want OpenDocument to be declared as the executive branch standard, primarily on procedural grounds. Pacheco believed that the executive branch had to receive permission to set an executive standard from the multi-branch IT Advisory Board. In contrast, The Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD), and its general council, believe the Advisory board's role is to advise ITD, and ITD did discuss the issue with the IT Advisory Board, but ITD's Peter Quinn and Linda Hamel (ITD's General Counsel) asserted that there is no requirement that "ITD approach the Advisory Board for permission to adopt policies that will impact only the Executive Department." Hamel later filed a legal briefing justifying ITD's position (Hamel, 2005). Massachusetts' Supreme Court has ruled that the various branches of government are prohibited from mandating IT standards on each other; this ruling appears to support ITD's claim. Pacheco also did not like the process used to select OpenDocument. However, Pacheco appears to have had many fundamental misunderstandings of the issues. Andy Updegrove said that at the time, "Senator Pacheco doesn't understand the difference between open source and open standards (and certainly doesn't understand the difference between OpenDocument and OpenOffice). More than once, he indicated that he thought that the policy would require the Executive Agencies to use, not realizing that there are other compliant alternatives. He also thought that this would act to the detriment of Massachusetts software vendors, who (he thinks) would be excluded from doing business with the Commonwealth." Pacheco also thought that was under the GPL, but in fact it is released under the LGPL (Jones, October 31, 2005) (Jones, November 14, 2005). He attempted to halt implementation of OpenDocument in the executive branch via an amendment (to S. 2256), but the amended bill was never sent to the governor.

Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox believes that Pacheco and Galvin's opposition to OpenDocument has less to do with technology than with politics, saying, "before debating Microsoft versus OpenDocument formats, I would consider political factors." Galvin and Pacheco are both Democrats, while the Governor at the time, Mitt Romney, was a Republican.

Senator Michael W. Morrissey has since proposed a new amendment, apparently at the suggestion of Secretary Galvin, that would give control over ITD and standards-setting to a task force that would be controlled by Secretary Galvin (Democrat) instead of Governor Mitt Romney (Republican). At this time these efforts to halt ODF implementation have not succeeded (Jones, November 18, 2005).

A Boston Globe article quoted Peter Quinn of Massachusetts saying that the state could implement OpenDocument without abandoning Microsoft Office: "We are not asking anybody to take anything off their desktop." Instead, they plan to modify an estimated 50,000 computers with software that would let Office users store their files in the OpenDocument format, instead of Microsoft's proprietary format, if Microsoft continues to refuse to support the format (Bray, September 23 2005).

It is also worth noting that some individual cities and towns in Massachusetts (perhaps most notably Saugus, Massachusetts) started experimenting with open formats long before the Commonwealth itself, making the changeover at the state level less risky.


Official Information Documents from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

(to find the documents as HTML pages, go to and search for the documents, eg. "etrm")

Formal comments to Massachusetts on their decision for Open Formats and posted by Massachusetts (alphabetical order):

Other states and organizations in the US

In November, 2005, James Gallt, associate director for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said that a number of other state agencies are also exploring the use of OpenDocument (LaMonica, November 10, 2005).

In April, 2006, a bill was introduced in the Minnesota state legislature to require all state agencies to use open data formats. It is expected that the OpenDocument Format will be advanced as a way of meeting the proposed requirement. (Gardner, April 7, 2006).



The European Commission has, since at least 2003, been investigating various options for storing documents in an XML-based format, commissioning technical studies such as the "Valoris Report" [1]. In March 2004, TAC asked an OpenOffice team and a Microsoft team to present on the relative merits of their XML-based office document formats [2].

In May 2004, the Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC) issued a set of recommendations, in particular noting that, "Because of its specific role in society, the public sector must avoid [a situation where] a specific product is forced on anyone interacting with it electronically. Conversely, any document format that does not discriminate against market actors and that can be implemented across platforms should be encouraged. Likewise, the public sector should avoid any format that does not safeguard equal opportunities to market actors to implement format-processing applications, especially where this might impose product selection on the side of citizens or businesses. In this respect standardisation initiatives will ensure not only a fair and competitive market but will also help safeguard the interoperability of implementing solutions whilst preserving competition and innovation." It then issued recommendations, including:

  • Industry actors not currently involved with the OASIS Open Document Format consider participating in the standardisation process in order to encourage a wider industry consensus around the format;
  • Microsoft considers issuing a public commitment to publish and provide non-discriminatory access to future versions of its WordML specifications;
  • Microsoft should consider the merits of submitting XML formats to an international standards body of their choice;
  • Industry is encouraged to provide filters that allow documents based on the WordML specifications and the emerging OASIS Open Document Format to be read and written to other applications whilst maintaining a maximum degree of faithfulness to content, structure and presentation. These filters should be made available for all products;
  • The public sector is encouraged to provide its information through several formats. Where by choice or circumstance only a single revisable document format can be used this should be for a format around which there is industry consensus, as demonstrated by the format's adoption as a standard. [3]

An official recommendation for a certain format was not issued however.

OpenDocument is already a standard by a recognized independent standards body (OASIS, in May 2005), and has been submitted to ISO for standardization. The OpenDocument format was accepted as standard ISO/IEC 26300:2006 in November 2006. Microsoft submitted Open Office XML to the ECMA for standardization in November 2005 where it was accepted as standard in December 2006. Microsoft subsequently submitted Open Office XML to ISO.

EU Definition of an open standard

  1. The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organisation, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.).
  2. The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee.
  3. The intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.
  4. There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard. [4]

More details about and the rationale for the EU's definition can be found in European Interoperability Framework for Pan-European eGovernment Services, Version 1.0 [4]. Currently, OpenDocument fulfills all four of these requirements.

United Kingdom

BECTA (British Education Communication Technology Agency) is the UK agency in charge of defining information technology (IT) policy for all schools in the United Kingdom, including standards for all the schools' infrastructure. In 2005 they published a comprehensive document describing the policy for infrastructure in schools.

This document highly recommends the use of OpenDocument and a few other formats for office document data. BECTA explains this as follows: "Any office application used by institutions must be able to be saved to (and so viewed by others) using a commonly agreed format that ensures an institution is not locked into using specific software. The main aim is for all office based applications to provide functionality to meet the specifications described here (whether licensed software, open source or unlicensed freeware) and thus many application providers could supply the educational institution ICT market.". [5]

Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council has adopted the StarOffice suite and with it the OpenDocument format across 5500 desktop computers. [6]


A memorandum on the use of open standards for creating and exchanging office documents was approved by Belgium's Council of Ministers on June 23, 2006. OpenDocument was proposed as the standard for exchanging office documents such as texts, spreadsheets, presentations within the civil service.[7]

From September 2007 on every federal government department must be able to read OpenDocument documents. After a one year long trial period OpenDocument might be selected as standard file format[8]. However, Belgium is leaving the door open for Office Open XML[9].


Finlands ministry of Justice has chosen Open Office and thus the OpenDocument format as main document format from beginning of 2007. The desicion has been made after deep research of ODF possibilities. Other ministeries may follow. [4]


  1. Valoris (2004). Comparative Assessment of Open Documents Formats Market Overview aka the "Valoris Report".
  2. Bray, Tim. (September 24-26 2004) SmartEC (Accessed on October 17 2005. (Discussing Open Office XML ISO Certification).)
  3. Telematics between Administrations Committee (TAC). (May 25 2004) TAC Approval on Conclusions and Recommendations on Open Document Formats. (Accessed on October 17 2005.)
  4. 4.0 4.1 EIF. (2004) European Interoperability Framework for pan-European eGovernment Services. (Accessed on October 17 2005.)
  5. BECTA. (2005) Technical specification for institutional infrastructure. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  6. Open Source Academy Bristol City Council. (Accessed on April 4 2007.)
  7. Belgium's federal Council of Ministers. (2006) Open standards: Belgium's federal Council of Ministers approves ODF (Open Document Format). (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  8. Techworld. (2006) Belgium adopts OpenDocument. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)
  9. CNET (2006) Belgian government chooses OpenDocument. (Accessed on August 29 2006.)

Other governments


It was announced on 31 March, 2006, that the National Archives of Australia had settled on OpenDocument as their choice for a cross-platform/application document format.


Chandershekhar, India's secretary of Ministry of Information and Technology, said, "We are glad to note that with formation of a National ODF alliance, India too would be playing a pivotal role in spearheading the ODF revolution. Further, considering the huge potential of eGovernance in the nation as well as the need to adopt open standards to make our data systems more inter-operable and independent of any limiting proprietary tools, we feel that ODF is a great technological leap and a big boon to further propel IT right to India's grass root levels. I congratulate this initiative of leading private & public organisations and wish them all the best in this endeavor." [5]

The Allahabad High Court of India has decided, as policy, to use OpenDocument format for its documents. [6] [7]


In 2002, Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñes, a lawyer and Congressman of the Republic of Perú, wrote a letter to Microsoft Peru raising questions about free and permanent document access with proprietary formats.




According to OASIS' OpenDocument datasheet, "Singapore's Ministry of Defence, France's Ministry of Finance and its Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Industry, Brazil's Ministry of Health, the City of Munich, Germany, UK's Bristol City Council, and the City of Vienna in Austria are all adopting applications that support OpenDocument." (OASIS, 2005b).


sk:Prijatie ODF v Európe