February 2007 News Items

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28 Feb 2007
Three Stages of XML Migration and the Challenge to OpenDocument, Gary Edwards
"Deciding to go with OpenDocument is the easy part. Getting there is something else... The three stages for migrating to XML file formats are inextricably linked and must be tackled in exactly this order: Conversion Fidelity, Round Trip Fidelity, Application Interop..."

California Is The Latest State To Consider Move To Open Documents , W. David Gardner, InformationWeek.
California has legislation before its State Assembly that would require state agencies to adopt an open document format for all government records.

California may adopt OpenDocument, Candace Lombardi, CNet.
California Assembly bill AB 1668 would make the OpenDocument Format the required format for state agencies' documents.

The OOXML Contradictions Disclosed, Consortium Info Blog
"...the package of materials distributed by JTC 1... contains each of the responses filed during the ISO Fast Track Contradictions period for Ecma 376... as well as the responses prepared by Ecma to those responses."

27 Feb 2007
California may join rush of states toward ODF, Eric Lai, Computerworld
"Bill would require state agencies to use open file formats starting next year." Includes a link to the bill itself.

23 Feb 2007
Pro-OpenDocument petition in the UK
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to promote the use of Open Document Format within the UK government." The deadline for UK citizens and residents to sign the e-petition is 19 May 2007.

22 Feb 2007
South Africa Confirms Open Standards. Tectonic.
"All new software developed for or by the government will be based on open standards."

Finnish ministry of Justice to adopt OpenDocument. Ministry of Justice, Finland.
The ministry and its administrative sector will adopt the OpenDocument standard for its office documents.

20 Feb 2007
Sun ODF Plug-in for MS Word 2003 now available for preview, Sun
Can be downloaded from the linked page; scroll down a bit to find "Click here to download the plug-in at no charge."

South Africa and the PAS Process: A Plague o' Both Your Standards, Consortium Info Blog
"... the South African national body... thinks that the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) avenue to ISO/IEC adoption is being abused. After being apparently subjected to the lobbying efforts of camps pro and con through both the ODF and now the OOXML adoption process..."

The Anatomy of Interoperability, Rob Weir
"By understanding these forces [that tend to increase or decrease interoperability}, and how they interact, you can get a good sense of how interoperability works, and have a better idea how the decisions that are being made today will determine the interoperability consumers will experience in the years to come... What characteristics might a specification have that hinder interoperability?"

14 Feb 2007
Open Document Format enhanced for disabled users, Robert Jaques, vnunet
OpenDocument now provides accessibility enhancements to ensure that the standard addresses the needs of people with disabilities.

13 Feb 2007
Members Approve OpenDocument Version 1.1 as OASIS Standard, Digital Media Net
"We are thrilled with the progress to date ... The OASIS process exemplifies what should be done if true accessibility to both a document format and the tools to manipulate it are to be achieved."

OOXML and ISO: Fact and Fancy, Consortium Standards Blog
"... I should share some additional details that I've learned relating to the contradictions received by JTC 1 regarding Ecma 376 (nee Microsoft OOXML)."

12 Feb 2007
My Family Photos - and ODF, Jonathan Schwartz
"Information always outlives technology."

11 Feb 2007
Do we need two ISO standards for document format? - Part 3, Open Malaysia.
Malaysia spoke up! Malaysia was one of 20 countries who sent comments of contradiction to ISO regarding Ecma 376.

10 Feb 2007
How Standards Bring Consumers Choice, Rob Weir
"...standards make it easier for you, the consumer, to shop with confidence and take full advantage of the choices offered in the marketplace. Let's take the humble floor lamp as an example, and look at some of the standards that govern its design, and the choices this enables for the consumer."

08 Feb 2007
More US states mull OpenDocument move builder.au
"Each state agency must be able to receive electronic documents in an open, Extensible Markup Language-based file format for office applications and may not change documents to a file format used by only one vendor"

Merely a flesh wound?, Rob Weir
"... this is not ISO per-se. It is JTC1, a Joint Committee between ISO and the IEC... the critical number to look at is the count of Primary Countries of JTC1, the so-called P-Countries. There are only 30 P-Countries in JTC1... During the 5-month ballot, approval of OOXML will require that two-thirds of the voting P-Countries approve, as well as that no more than one-quarter of all votes cast are negative... with 16 P-Countries already expressing concerns about OOXML... If the vote were held today, OOXML would fail in JTC1."

07 Feb 2007
OpenDocument Software Gains Momentum, W. David Gardner, InformationWeek.
Texas and Minnesota's willingness to adopt the OpenDocument Format (ODF) as a statewide standard for office software may prompt other states to seriously consider open data standards for documents.

OpenDocument up for adoption in Texas, Minnesota. Candace Lombardi. CNet.
The Minnesota Preservation of State Documents Act and Texas bill SB 446, if passed, will required use of the OpenDocument Format.

Sun Microsystems Announces OpenDocument Format (ODF) Plug-in Application for Microsoft Office
"Users of accessibility devices now fully able to participate in organizations switching to ODF... StarOffice(TM) 8 Conversion Technology Preview plug-in application for Microsoft Office 2003. The early access version..., available as a free download, will allow seamless two-way conversion of Microsoft Office documents to ODF... will support the conversion of text documents (.doc/.odt) only, but full support of spreadsheet and presentation documents is expected in April... The Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is currently using the converter to meet the previously identified January, 2007 compliance date for the start of a phased migration to the ODF format."

Simon Phipps discusses the Sun plug-in here: Sun Announces ODF Plug-In for MS Office.

Microsoft's Open XML Format Hits Roadblocks in U.S., Abroad, Peter Galli, eWeek
Summary of some recent events.

06 Feb 2007
The Contradictory Nature of OOXML (Part II) – 19 Nations Respond, Consortium Info Blog
"...an unprecedented nineteen countries have responded during the contradictions phase - most or all lodging formal contradictions with Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC), the ISO/IEC body that is managing the Fast Track process under which OOXML (now Ecma 476) has been submitted."

Texas, Minnesota eye move to ODF, Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service
"States may follow Mass. in ditching proprietary file formats in favor of more widely compatible ones."

Texas to have law driving ODF adoption?, Bob Sutor
Report on S.B. No. 446, which if enacted would require OpenDocument Format in state agencies: "Each state agency must be able to receive electronic documents in an open, Extensible Markup Language based file format for office applications and may not change documents to a file format used by only one vendor."

Minnesota to have law driving ODF adoption?, Bob Sutor
Report on Preservation of State Documents Act, Minnesota House of Representatives
"H.F. No. 176, proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 16E." Criteria are currently met only by OpenDocument.

Translator is FUBAR!, Sam Hiser
"The Microsoft-Clever Age-Novell ODF Translator v1.0 is... so bad that the market will just move on... Holding the performance aside (which, itself, is a disqualifier...see the buried List of Unsupported Features the length of my arm), the Translator makes it so difficult for MS Office users to create ODF files, that no one will ever use it."

05 Feb 2007
Let There Be Light: Promoting OpenOffice.org with Sun, Glyn Moody, Linux Journal.
"The OpenDocument Format (ODF) just keeps on getting stronger..."

Microsoft standards bid faces failure, Clive Akass, ComputerActive, UK
"The British Standards Institute, which represents the UK with the International Standards Organisation, has issued what is called a 'contradiction' to Microsoft's specification."

Open Document to Office Open XML converter: not good, Tim Anderson
"...don’t even think about using this converter as a means of standardising on Open Document while still using Word. It will cause immense and unnecessary hassle. However, it could still be useful for importing and exporting documents interchanged with others using, say, OpenOffice."

04 Feb 2007
The case for a valid contradiction of Microsoft Office Open XML at ISO has not been rebutted, Marbux, OpenDocument.xml.org
"As a matter of law, a national body's contradiction to a draft standard being processed on the fast track at ... ISO... validly includes an objection that the draft standard is ineligible for further preparation as a standard on grounds that it would create an unnecessary obstacle to international trade."

02 Feb 2007
Microsoft Releases Open XML Translator, Begins Next Phase of Project, Peter Galli, eWeek
"The open-source Translator, which is an add-on to Microsoft Word, will be available for download and use starting Feb. 2 at no cost... [the first of] a series of tools that allow translation between the Open Document Format and [Microsoft's] Open XML file format... [T]he second phase of the project... includes developing translators for Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations."

Introducing ODF 1.1, Rob Weir
"There is a natural tendency to shrink away from criticism, to retreat inward and retrench, and at all costs avoid admitting errors. But I personally believe that every time we are corrected or criticized, it gives us another opportunity to show our character by how we handle it... So it is notable that the OASIS ODF TC overcame its accessibility problems not with defiance and not with acquiescence, but by enthusiastically embracing the challenge, engaging the critics, ... bringing in the experts, ... and working within an open and transparent standards development process... This is what open standards are all about and why they are so damn important.... It is about how much we can do together to improve some parts of the technological landscape that are broken today for some users, and have been for some time."

A story of TIFF, Daniel Carrera
A cautionary tale: "I'd like to tell a story. It's a sad story. It's a story about a file format called TIFF... Interoperability subsets was TIFF's downfall... Don't be a TIFF."

01 Feb 2007
OpenDocument v1.1 is now an OASIS standard, Peter Korn
"The OASIS ballot for OpenDocument v1.1 has closed, and without a single dissenting vote, OpenDocument v1.1 has been approved as an OASIS Standard. This is another affirmation of the increasing participation of the disability community in developing technology standards... OpenDocument v1.1 is primarily the work of the disability community and experts in disability technology..."