Australia mulls requiring OpenDocument Format compatibility

Australia would follow a number of European countries in mandating support for open standards

Australia's government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.

The country's government agencies mostly use Microsoft's Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the "potential for a vendor ending support for specific format," wrote John Sheridan, Australia's chief technology officer.

If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries' ICT Governance Board for approval.

If ODF support is mandated, Australia would follow a number of European countries that have required that government agencies be able to use open file standards.

ODF was approved as an international standard in May 2006. It is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file format that sprang from OpenOffice, a free, open-source office application suite. The standard is open and can be implemented by any software vendor.

The standard is supported in Google Docs, Lotus Symphony, OpenOffice, StarOffice as well as later versions of Microsoft's Office.

Sheridan wrote that agencies shouldn't have a problem supporting it. He wrote that Microsoft Office has provided native support for ODF in Office versions beyond Office 2007 SP2.

The draft proposal is part of Australia's Whole-of-Government Common Operating Environment Policy, a project undertaken in 2009 that aims to standardize desktops, improve services and strengthen security.

The proposal calls for requiring that office suites support at least version 1.1 of ODF for office applications as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

ODF is under continual development, Sheridan wrote. The latest 1.2 version, which is expected to eventually become an ISO/IEC standard, includes a spreadsheet specification that resolves compatibility issues between spreadsheet applications.

"This, coupled with Microsoft Office 2013's support for the format, means that formulae contained in spreadsheets can be reliably transferred between applications," Sheridan wrote.

Sensing a threat from ODF years ago, Microsoft created an open specification for productivity software called Office Open XML (OOXML), which was approved as an international standard in April 2008.

OOXML was opposed by many on grounds it was not needed, with critics contending ODF was a less complicated format and already an international standard. OOXML is the default file format for Microsoft Office.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags open sourceapplicationsMicrosoftsoftwareOffice suites

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?