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FSF’s “Support ODF” Project

July 29th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

The Free Software Foundation has started a list called Who’s Supporting OpenDocument, to document the growth of ODF in government agencies around the world.

This is a part of the larger Support OpenDocument campaign:

The OpenDocument format (ODF) is a format for electronic office documents, such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word-processing documents. The OpenDocument format is supported by free software applications such as, AbiWord and KOffice.

Better ODF Support for MS Office

May 18th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

While Microsoft Office 2007’s latest service pack purports ODF support, it’s not complete, nor does it appear designed to provide usable interoperabilty with other ODF-capable applications.

For users of MS Office who need better compatibility, the solution is the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office:

  • The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office gives users of Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint the ability to read, edit and save to the ISO-standard Open Document Format (ODF).
  • The plugin works with Microsoft Office 2007 (Service Pack 1 or higher), Microsoft Office 2003, XP and Microsoft Office 2000.

Malte Timmermann explains the situation in his recent post Better ODF support in Microsoft Office via Sun’s ODF Plugin:

So many people complain (everywhere, including in OOo mailing lists) about the bad ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 SP2, that I thought it might be a good idea to post some information about the ODF Plugin here…

The Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office, which is based on, adds support for ODF to Microsoft Office 2000 and newer versions. So you don’t have to use the very latest Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 version (in case you really need Microsoft Office for some reason) , where ODF support is insufficient anyway.

More on Document Freedom Day

March 27th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Sadly, I missed the date of Document Freedom Day and can now only write about it after the fact.

Document Freedom Day is an effort to promote open standards and free document formats, to combat vendor lock-in and monopoly abuse in software markets.

Red Hat Magazine covered the event and the movement in Happy Document Freedom Day, posted on Wednesday (March 27, when Document Freedom Day was held this year):

Document Freedom Day promotes open formats so that users can freely exchange their data no matter what software program they choose to use. Complete interoperability is the ultimate goal of those who support open standards.

Public documents stored on closed, proprietary formats require citizens to pay twice to access information that already belongs to them, once for the document creation, and again to access them.  There is also the danger of losing the information stored in those formats should the vendors go out of business, or decide that they no longer want to maintain that technology. Proponents of open document formats believe all public information should be stored using open standards accessible to all.

OpenOffice 3.0 Exceeds 50 Million Downloads

March 26th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

John McCreesh sent a note and blogged this morning to highlight the ongoing success of 3.0: it has been downloaded over 50 million times since its release last fall:

Yesterday – Document Freedom Day 2009 – we reached our 50 millionth download of from since 3.0 was released. Celebrate!

Interest in OpenOffice and its exposure to more users continues to increase, building a positive upward spiral of adoption and development of the application suite.

Latvia and UK Endorse ODF

March 6th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

According to the latest ODF Alliance Newsletter, the UK and Latvia have made moves in support of OpenDocument Format (ODF).

The CIO’s office in the UK has created a new page called Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan. The ODF Alliance summarizes the UK CIO’s position as follows:

The United Kingdom has joined the growing ranks of governments that have now endorsed the use of ODF. Under the “Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan” the UK government will specify requirements by reference to open standards and require compliance with open standards in solutions where feasible. The government indicated it will support the use of ODF. It will also work to ensure that government information is available in open formats, and it will make this a required standard for government websites.

Earlier, Latvia made its decision to endorse and adopt ODF:

Latvia’s standards body, Latvian Standard (LVS), has officially approved ODF as a national standard. Latvia now joins Sweden, Brazil, Croatia, Italy, South Korea, and South Africa as countries whose national standards bodies have formally approved ODF. Taiwan’s approval of ODF by its Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) was announced 21 January 2009.

Still waiting for something formal to be announced by the US Federal Government, but here’s hoping!

Lotus Symphony Wiki

February 5th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

IBM has been a significant promoter of two of my major interests: wikis (specifically for corporate intranet content management) and (specifically, IBM’s “distro” of it called Lotus Symphony).

One place where the two converge is in the Lotus Symphony Wiki, developed as a collaborative space for Symphony-related information.

IBM’s wiki engine has a very strong design architecture and user interface, so I’d like to learn more about it. (I have not seen it in use elsewhere, so I wonder if it’s in-house, or expensive, or targeted only to big enterprises…) Likewise, Symphony itself has been a great citizen of the OpenOffice ecosystem, introducing creative new user interface concepts that I think could be adopted by OOo itself (especially document window tabs and a tools sidebar).

One approach I think Symphony could take that OOo itself has struggled with, is to achieve pre-installation on new computers from OEMs. IBM’s relationship with Lenovo should help convince them to offer Symphony instead of Microsoft Works, at the very least. OEM installations would help introduce Symphony and the ODF format to many new users, helping to further expand its global userbase.

ODF Alliance Newsletter, January 2009

February 4th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

The ODF Alliance‘s monthly newsletter has been released for January 2009. (The newsletter is distributed as a PDF, but Boycott Novell’s website shares an HTML version for in-browser reading.)

It was a newsworthy month and year–the 2008 annual report is cited several times, including:

Government adoptions… grew steadily and now include 16 national and 8 provincial governments that have formally recommended or required the use of ODF; a dramatic improvement in both the quality of existing applications support and its expansion into new areas with the emergence of ODF-supporting mobile device and web conferencing applications, document management systems, wiki editors, viewers, converters, accessibility tools (ODT-To-DAISY Digital Talking Book), database software, and programming libraries; public procurement gains; and feature enhancements in ODF v 1.2, which is expected to be considered for approval shortly as an OASIS standard.

Among those governments adopting ODF, a December 3 press release mentions Germany, one of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies.

The ODF Alliance welcomed the decision by the Federal Government of Germany to implement use of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) by federal agencies beginning in 2010… According to the plan, German federal agencies will be able to receive, read, send and edit ODF documents beginning no later than 2010. State Secretary Dr. Hans Bernhard Beus, federal government IT officer and chairman of the IT Council, described the decision regarding ODF as “a major step to increase competition among software vendors, promote IT security, and improve interoperability.”

Vietnam’s Big Plans for Open Source

January 14th, 2009 Benjamin Horst’s Standards Blog points out, “Vietnam Starts New Year with Open Source (and ODF).”

Andy Updegrove analyzes this news in the context of the broader global movement toward open source in developing countries:

It’s hardly a surprise that Vietnam should make such an announcement. It has an increasingly sophisticated and growing IT industry, and like the governments of many other emerging nations, is interested in keeping IT budgets down while expanding IT services, as well as nurturing its own IT industry rather than shipping all of its IT budget dollars abroad. For nations throughout Asia and South America in particular, open source (and open standards compatible with open source) are becoming increasingly incorporated into enterprise infrastructure guidelines and procurement requirements.

The source article is published on VietNamNet as “Vietnam to Widely Use Open Source Software.”

The requirements are for government agencies, as part of an effort to modernize IT infrastructure and government operations while cutting unnecessary costs:

By June 30, 2009, 100% of clients of IT divisions of government agencies must be installed with open source software; 100% of staffs at these IT divisions must be trained in the use of these software products and at least 50% use them proficiently…

Open source software products are OpenOffice, email software for servers of Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Firefox web browser and the Vietnamese typing software Unikey.

The instruction also said that by December 31, 2009, 70% of clients of ministries’ agencies and local state agencies must be installed with the above open source software products and 70% of IT staff trained in using this software; and at least 40% able to use the software in their work.

While the timeframe is aggressive compared to many government open source deployments, it should be easy enough for a motivated organization to achieve. 3.0 Writer Guide Available

January 12th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

The OOoAuthors project has recently released the 3 Writer Guide at At $20 for a 552-page manual, it’s a bargain on a thorough, well-researched and carefully-edited book produced by volunteer writers from the global community of OpenOffice users.

The manual covers, in part, “setting up Writer to suit the way you work;using styles and templates; working with text, graphics, tables, and forms; formatting pages (page styles, columns, frames, sections, and tables); printing and mail merge; creating tables of contents, indexes, and bibliographies; using master documents, fields, and the equation editor (Math); creating PDFs; and more.”

Free PDFs of the same content are available for download at the OOo Documentation Project site. To download ODFs of the documentation that you can edit, or to participate in writing more documentation, start at the OOoAuthors project site.

“ODF Will Prevail”

December 30th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

PCWorld reports on the good year ODF had in 2008. Competing against Microsoft’s MSOOXML format, ODF (OpenDocument Format) seems to be extending its lead:

ODF has now been approved as a technology standard for document exchange in 16 countries, including Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Russia, and Germany, according to the report. In the Netherlands, government agencies must select ODF-supported products in technology purchases of €50,000 (US$69,920) or more, and in Brazil ODF also has been mandated for use in government agencies.

ODF Alliance Managing Director Marino Marcich also points out the wide range of applications that now support the ODF file type.

ODF also gained more support among word-processing applications from major technology vendors, Marcich said. Google Docs, Adobe Buzzword and’s desktop and portable applications all now support ODF as a file format.

With ODF a requirement for some governments concerned about transparency in their digital work processes, and a large and growing catalog of applications that can produce and consume ODF files, it’s becoming ever clearer the benefits of using open standards in the digital world: choice, price and flexibility are all getting better for software users.