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Subject: Re: [egov-ws] Preparations for the ebXML/Web Services SubcommitteeMeeting on March 12

Yes, we did decide in Washington to use openoffice, because its
format is the only nonproprietary one available (the open-source
software is free from openoffice.org, and the XML data format is
being managed by a sibling OASIS TC).  This is basically the same
motivation that is driving the adoption of Linux for government
use in number of countries.  I think that there is an extremely
important point of principle and of public policy here, and not
one that I want to let go in the interest of expediency; that's
how we allowed public-domain government materials to get locked
into proprietary formats in the first place.

With the active participation of Corel in the OASIS TC managing
the openoffice XML format, it's to be hoped that this format will
soon be readable in WordPerfect, thus solving the problem for some
U.S. government agencies that use WordPerfect and hopefully
inducing other companies to join the common effort so that all the
office suites will be able to read and write the same files.  This
will be ideal, but we won't get there unless we make it clear by
our actions that we are serious about the use of open formats in
government work.

Having said all that, however, I readily acknowledge that we can't
let a blind adherence to principle stop us from getting the job
done.  So my suggestion is this: let's use openoffice for editing
(it's fully functional and it's free), release documents in
openoffice format (which is the only one that's managed in
public), and then also "save as" a Word file to be included
alongside the openoffice XML format as an attachment.  Does that

Note for people installing openoffice: You should install the
latest Java Runtime Environment (JRE) first.  So download the JRE
from http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.1/download.html (just the
appropriate JRE, you don't need the SDK), install the JRE, then
download the latest version of openoffice from
http://www.openoffice.org/ and install that.  Now you're using all
free software for your publicly funded work and saving it in a
format that's under public governance.


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