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Subject: Re: [office] Promotion of ODF thought

On Tuesday 26 June 2012 20:44:31 PM Patrick Durusau wrote:
> While we await resolution on the promotion of ODF mechanism at OASIS, I
> had an idea that might be useful, whatever form that promotion mechanism
> takes.
> A number of nations are using ODF as part of their governmental
> infrastructures. I don't have the details but I suspect we all know
> people who have part of the story.
> Suggestion: Why not have an ODF Nation Poster Child that rotates every
> two (2) months? Suspect we could get some department of government to do
> the PR reports, etc., which all we have to do is reflect/point to from
> the OASIS site.
> Reasoning that governments are always looking for PR and so have an
> interest in appearing in a favorable light. Not that they are going to
> give away free airline tickets or anything but just doing PR reports
> would be nice.
> In a little bit longer run and it would take more effort, would be
> getting the W3C to pick up on our support for RDF in ODF 1.2 as a
> content management mechanism. Again, in their self-interest to do so.

Hello Patrick,

That is indeed an interesting thought. I know of two european governments that 
mandate ODF: the Netherlands and Hungary.

The Netherlands recently upgraded their from ODF 1.0 to ODF 1.2.

In principle this is a very good development. In practice, it is one step in 
the right direction. Currently, the Dutch government publishes many important 
government documents in 4 formats: a government XML format, PDF, HTML and ODF 
1.0. The PDF version is the version that is legally binding -- if, due to e.g. 
a conversion error, any format has a different text or meaning than the PDF 
version, the PDF version is the correct version.

The use of RDF in the dutch government is growing, although no high profile 
system that uses RDF is in production yet. This will probably change in the 
next years. I know that the people that work on RDF and the people that 
coordinate the publication pipeline are very aware of each others work and 
good thing might come from that.

Part of the PDFs are created from XML via XSL-FO. This has similarities with 
the conversion to ODF.

When we look outside the once-way publication of documents we come to the area 
for which ODF is recommended, namely for the 'exchange of editable documents'. 
In that area, ODF adoption is almost non-existant. The official rules have 
very little effect on the predominant use of Microsoft Office binary and xml 
formats. Even the political party that helped start the road to open standards 
published its latest political agenda as .doc and .pdf.

The use of Open Standards in the Netherlands was meant to break the monopoly 
of office suites in the Netherlands, but this simply has not happened yet. 
Only a few municipalities and a few smaller government agencies switched to 
alternative office suites and those organizations are practically compelled to 
comunicate in non-odf formats when collaborating with other agencies.

So the current situation could be improved. There are very good efforts 
underway, but more should be done.

With regards to the statements 'governments are always looking for PR', I 
would beg to differ. Elected government officials would like easy positive PR. 
Non-elected parts of government would like good PR but cannot initiate it 
easily because they need to go through the elected officials.

Nevertheless, the one-but-last plugfest was organized by the Dutch 
municipality of Gouda. So yes, on the lower level, it is certainly possible to 
collaborate on PR.

In a wider focus, there are many efforts in the EU to reuse software and to 
use open standards. Office file formats are not always the main focus of these 
efforts. There are blanket efforts the look to have mainly open standards and 
there are specific efforts for areas of government such as preservation or 
legislature. Often XML is taken as a basic data exchange format. 

Getting w3 to highlight use of RDF in ODF should not be too hard. We could 
send Sir Berners Lee a mail.


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