Introduction to OpenDocument

Have you ever had trouble opening a document that someone sent you? Have you ever bought a copy of MS Office that you didn't want because you have to read documents that only work with that version of MS Office? Have you ever wondered why there is so little choice in office software?

What you are seeing is vendor lock-in. It happens because your documents are written in a secret format that only one software maker knows. This prevents competitors from making products that can read and write those files well. In short, it reduces your choices down to one.

Vendor lock-in is the enemy of competition. It short-circuits the market forces that would normally give you better products at a lower cost. OpenDocument is a way out of vendor lock-in for office software.

  • What if you could send a file to anyone and know that they can read it?
  • What if you could buy any product you want and know that you can still communicate with your customers?

This is the promise of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an open, XML-based file format for office documents. It includes text documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations and more.

OpenDocument is freely available for any software maker to use and implement and does not favour any vendor over all the others.

What's the deal with open standards?

  • When you visit a website, do you need to know what software that website runs to create the web page?
  • When you send an email, do you need to know what email client your friend has?

Then why should it be different for your documents? You should be able to send your documents to your customers without knowing what office software they run and be confident that it would work.

Open standards are everywhere

  • When you buy a music CD you know it will fit in your CD player.
  • When you buy canned food, you know it will work with your can opener.
  • When you buy a toaster, you know it will work with the power plugs in your house.

Thanks to open standards, we can have a plethora of products in the market. They compete with each other for your business, which means that they must give you a better product for a lower cost.

Who uses OpenDocument?

If you are an individual or business user
You want OpenDocument because it will give you choice and lower prices. Learn more...
If you are a government official
You want OpenDocument because it will create a freer market and make your voters less dependent on a single software vendor.
If you are a librarian or archivist
You want OpenDocument because it can preserve today's history for hundreds of years.
If you are a developer
You want OpenDocument because you won't be dependent on the whims of one of your competitors who doesn't have your best interests at heart.

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