Thursday, June 01, 2006

Start Using OpenDocument

The new OpenDocument format (ODF) has been approved for ISO/IEC 26300 in early this month. The intention of bringing this new format is to provide an alternative format for office application which mainly uses proprietary format, such as Microsoft Office. This format has been adopted by many OpenSource office application, such as and KOffice.

This standard was developed by the OASIS industry consortium, based upon the XML-based file format originally created by Next, a new alliance, called OpenDocument Format Alliance was build to educate policymakers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of the OpenDocument Format, to help ensure that government information, records and documents are accessible across platforms and applications, even as technologies change today and in the future.

What is the benefit of using OpenDocument format? You are vendor independent, as many vendor can look at the specification of the format (unlike MS Office's undocumented format) and they can build an application which can manipulate file that uses OpenDocument format. For example, if you are using KOffice right now, in the future, you won't have problems when you want to change to, since both of this application have gave their supports on OpenDocument format and their default format is OpenDocument Format (since 2.x and KOffice 1.5.x). There will be an unified format for all future office suite and this will give many benefits for everybody, as they can choose whatever office suite they like, as long as it supports OpenDocument format.

So, what's next after the format has been approved? Of course publications and socializations, as many organizations still relies on proprietary format. There will pro and cons about this, but some countries has started to migrate to OpenDocument, for example in France and in some states in US, like Massachussets.

So, when will Indonesia follow this? Indonesia has an IGOS project, but in my personal opinion, it's not well maintained and supported by the governments. It only try to feature GNU/Linux as an alternative operating system, but not OpenDocument as an alternative office format. Independent format is one of the critical component to consider when someone or a company is starting to migrate to Open Source, since they need office application as their daily business routines.

You can contribute by creating as many documents as possible using OpenDocument format or publishing an article about OpenDocument format in your webpages, blogs, or any other media.