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Subject: OpenDocument TC FAQ reworked

Dear TC members,

in the past few weeks, several questions were asked regarding OpenDocument 
and the OpenDocument TC. This included questions about the size of the 
OpenDocument TC and questions how OpenDocument relates to other office file 
formats. I therefor reworked the TC'S FAQ and added multiple Questions and 

The new FAQ is attached. I've marked new questions with a green background 
color, and reworked Questions and Answers with a yellow background color.

I've also attached a plain copy of the FAQ below.

Please let me know in the con call on Monday if you agree to the reworked FAQ.

Best regards


OpenDocument TC FAQ

What is the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument)?

OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) is a 
standardized XML-based file format specification suitable for office 
applications. It covers the features required by text, spreadsheets, charts, 
and graphical documents.

Who benefits from this work and how?

A vendor and application independent open document format for office 
applications protects content, whether it is a 800 page airplane 
specification or a legal contract, from being locked into an application- or 
vendor-specific file format. Additionally, it lets application users 
participate in the benefits of XML file formats without having to change 
their habits and without requiring additional knowledge or education.

There is a TC 45 with a similar charter existing at ECMA. Is this a 
competitive effort?

No. The OpenDocument TC and the ECMA TC 45 have in common that they define 
standardized file formats for office applications, but there are differences 
in the charters of both groups.

The purpose of ECMA TC45 is "to produce a formal standard for office 
productivity applications that is fully compatible with the Office Open XML 
Formats, submitted by Microsoft.".

The purpose of the OpenDocument TC is to "create an open, XML-based file 
format specification for office applications." This means, the file format is 
not specialized for a certain application, but provides a formal standard for 
arbitrary office applications. This includes Microsoft Office, but is not 
limited to it.

How large is the OpenDocument TC?

The OpenDocument TC has 17 founding members (full list). An up-to-date list 
of TC members is available here. At the time this FAQ was updated 
(14/12/2005) the TC membership database lists 16 members from 6 organizations 
and three individual members.

Isn't OpenDocument only the file format of the OpenOffice.org application 
that has been standardized?

OpenDocument has been developed as an application-independent format by a 
vendor-neutral OASIS Technical Committee (TC) with the participation of 
multiple office application vendors. The basis for the OASIS OpenDocument 
TC's work indeed was the OpenOffice.org XML file format, but even the 
OpenOffice.org XML file format was developed as an application-independent 
file format that is not usable by the OpenOffice.org application only.

The OpenOffice.org XML specification went through a one year review phase 
within the TC, that resulted in about 100 changes to the schema, and a one 
year phase of additional specification and editorial work. The OpenDocument 
specification also went through a one month public review phase within the 
full OASIS membership, which represents over 600 organizations.

Did the OpenDocument TC take the requirements of Microsoft Office users into 

Several companies that are members in the OpenDocument TC are very much 
committed to deliver office products that are highly interoperable with 
Microsoft's office products, especially on the file format level. Some of 
these companies for instance deliver products that have MS office document 
filters for ten years now. The membership of these companies in the 
OpenDocument TC actually ensures that the requirements of MS Office users are 
considered within OpenDocument.

Is OpenDocument backward compatible with Microsoft Office binary documents?

No. Backward compatibility with binary documents is technical impossible for 
an XML file format. However, applications may support legacy binary format as 
well OpenDocument and this way may provide backward compatibility with binary 
formats for office application users.

Does OpenDocument support "custom schemas"?

There are several usages of the term "custom schema". The term "custom schema 
support" frequently is used to describe the possibility to interleave an 
office application schema with XML tags from some other schema. Because this 
is a feature of XML and XML Namespaces in general, this is supported by 
OpenDocument. But it is important to distinguish between the OpenDocument 
format and applications that implement it. No applications at this point 
exploit this feature, but this is inherently supported by OpenDocument.

Another definition of "custom schema" support is the possibility to include 
an instance of a non-office-schema into an office document. This feature is 
provided by OpenDocument due to its partial inclusion of the W3C XForms standard.

Was performance listed as a requirement for the OpenDocument standard?

Although performance is not explicitly listed as a requirement in the 
OpenDocument TC charter, the ability to provide performant implementations of 
a file format seems to be self-evident for an open standard.

There are no performance issues known in applications that have their root 
cause in the OpenDocument standard. In case such issues would be brought to 
the attention of the TC, the TC would work on a resolution.

OpenDocument is a new standard. How well is it tested?

OpenDocument is well tested. OpenDocument is based on the OpenOffice.org XML 
file format. OpenOffice XML is the default file format of the OpenOffice.org 
application since 2001. This includes the word processor, the spreadsheet, 
and the presentation applications of OpenOffice.org.

Who owns OpenDocument?

OpenDocument is owned by OASIS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the 
open development of public XML standards. OpenDocument is maintained by an 
OASIS Technical Committee made up of XML, document manager and office 
application experts.

Is the OpenDocument effort still open?

Yes. The OpenDocument TC will extend OpenDocument 1.0 to encompass additional 
areas of applications or users, and also will adapt the specification to 
recent developments in office applications. OASIS members who are interested 
in participating in the further development of OpenDocument are encouraged to 
join the OpenDocument TC. For non-OASIS members, OASIS membership- is 
available at the following URL:


What is the current state of the specification?

The OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) 1.0 is 
an approved OASIS standard.

OASIS has submitted the OpenDocument Format OASIS Standard to the ISO/IEC 
JTC1 (International Organization for Standardization International 
Electrotechnical Commission's Joint Technical Committee) for further approval 
as a de jure standard.

Where did OpenDocument come from?

OpenDocument has its roots in the OpenOffice.org XML file format. In December 
2003, Arbortext, Boeing, Corel, CSW Informatics, Drake Certivo, National 
Archive of Australia, New York State Office of the Attorney General, Society 
of Biblical Literature, Sony, Stellent and Sun Microsystems founded the OASIS 
Open Office XML Format TC to develop a standardized XML-based file format for 
office applications. The basis for the TC's work was the OpenOffice.org XML 
file format that had proved its value in real life already. The first 
committee draft was approved in March 2003, a 2nd one in December 2004. In 
January 2005, the Open Office XML Format TC renamed itself to OASIS Open 
Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) to emphasize that the 
resulting specification is not only suitable for OpenOffice.org, but for 
arbitrary office applications.

A third committee draft was approved in March 2005. OpenDocument was approved 
as an OASIS standard in May 2005.

How much will it cost to use OpenDocument?

OpenDocument is royalty-free. It can be used without charge by anyone.

Where do I find the OpenDocument specification and schemas?

The OpenDocument v1.0 specification is available in PDF format at


and in OpenOffice.org XML format at


The OpenDocument v1.0 Relax-NG schemas are available here:

    1. OpenDocument v1.0 Relax-NG Schema (extracted from chapter 1 to 16 of 
the specification):
    2. OpenDocument v1.0 Manifest Relax-NG Schema (extracted from chapter 17 
of the specification):
    3. OpenDocument v1.0 Strict Relax-NG Schema (extracted from appendix A of 
the specification):

How does this work compare to existing standards at other standards 

There are some standards that cover single features of office applications, 
like SVG for graphic content or HTML and XSL-FO for text content, but none of 
these standards covers all features of office applications. The OASIS Open 
Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) covers the features 
required by text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents, but also 
'borrow' from similar, existing standards wherever possible and permitted.

How does this work compare to other office applications schemas?

     * OpenDocument was developed in a completely open, publicly visible, 
vendor-neutral, royalty-free standards process that allows input from the 
entire user community
     * OpenDocument is one schema for text, spreadsheets, charts, and 
graphical documents. There are no distinct schemas for the different kind of 
office applications.
     * OpenDocument is highly interoperable by making use of existing 
standards like HTML , SVG , XSL , SMIL , XLink , XForms , MathML or Dublin 
Core wherever possible.
     * OpenDocument has a package concept and can be used as default file 
format for office applications without disadvantages in file size or integrity.

What kind of applications are covered by the specification?

OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) 1.0 is 
suitable for text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents. Later 
versions of the specification will encompass additional areas of applications 
or users.

I've sometimes read about and OASIS Open Office XML Format TC and an Open 
Office specification. What is their relation to OpenDocument?

OASIS Open Office and OASIS OpenDocument are the same. The OpenDocument TC 
was originally named “OASIS Open Office XML Format TC”, but renamed itself to 
“OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC ” in 
January 2005.

OpenDocument previously was called Open Office. What is the relation to 

When the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC 
was founded, it chose the OpenOffice.org XML file format as the basis for its 
work, because the OpenOffice.org XML file format had already proven its value 
in real life. The OpenDocument format therefore is an advancement of the 
OpenOffice.org XML file format. It us usable and used by OpenOffice.org, but 
also by other office applications like KOffice.

The OpenDocument TC as an OASIS TC is not part of the OpenOffice.org open 
source project, and only some of the TC members have a relation to the 
OpenOffice.org project.

My question isn't listed here: where do I get more information?

If you do not find an answer to your question in this FAQ, please do not 
hesitate to send it to the TC members using the "Send A Comment" button at 


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