Let us promote Open Document Format (ODF). The only reason I write this article is because the confusions of Microsoft Document Format (OOXML) brought by Microsoft Office against Open Document Format (ODF) brought by LibreOffice (and companions). The another reasonable reason for me is no exact match in search engine I found for “support open document format” keywords even until today. So I need to explain shortly why it is important to support ODF (and another open formats) followed by mentioning many important link resources for that. So please use ODF, use LibreOffice (or its companions), use them as far as we can. Then promote them. Propagate them so another one will use them either. I hope this article will be widely useful.
This article is a short collection of the reasons why ODF is important and why we need to avoid OOXML usages. Why we need to use LibreOffice (or its companions) and why we need to avoid Microsoft Office usage. I’m talking in Free Software (and Open Source) scope. So keep inside this scope if you want to comment please.
1. What is Open Document Format?
Open Document Format (ODF, OpenDocument) is an open format for digital documents. It consists of ODT for word processor, ODS for spreadsheet, ODP for presentation, and some more. It is popular to be LibreOffice’s default document format. It is open format comparable to Microsoft Document OOXML (DOCX/XLSX/PPTX). This is non-technical description.
Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) is an OASIS Consortium‘s standard format based on XML for word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications which has been accepted as ISO standard ISO/IEC 26300. ODF is based on Sun Microsystem’s document format for OpenOffice.org. Technical documentation of Open Document Format is can be downloaded below. Technical specification of ODF can be downloaded below. This is technical description.
For more detailed explanation about ODF, refer here:
2. Why Open Document Format is Important?
Because ODF is the most vendor-neutral open format for digital documents[TDF, OOXML]. It means no one patented the format specification, it is royalty-free format, no single vendor can lock the format of the document files, it means anyone permitted to create any software without patent risk forever, and it means it is readable/writable in any application worldwide.
- For governments: it is important to use ODF[Swapnil, OOXML][Wikibooks, Benefit][OpenDocument Fellowship, Government] because if the governments use patent-encumbered format (and as the consequence is also using proprietary software) to manipulate state document, there is no guarantee for the state confidential documents not to be leaked to the vendor. There is no guarantee if format/software vendor can not read or can not lock the software applications and furthermore lock the document files. There is no guarantee that vendor can not modify remotely any confidential document created using those document formats and proprietary software. Also, it is very important for governments to ensure no state resident can be discriminated[OASIS, Benefit] in data access because of a document format or forced to buy certain product from certain vendor[OpenForumEurope, Government].
- For end users: it is important to use ODF (and one of the consequence is using Free Software/Open Source) because its compatibility towards other software. ODF is not patented, furthermore i.e. LibreOffice is Free Software so no algorithm to read/write ODF is patented. By using ODF, somebody helps FOSS community and also helps ODF to be recognized widely.
3. What Applications To Support Open Document Format?
LibreOffice and its companions. They are Free Software, such as:
- Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org): free office suite from Sun Microsystem which LibreOffice created from. Now Apache Foundation handles its development. Licensed in Apache License 2.0.
- Calligra Office: free office suite from KDE. Licensed in GNU GPL and LGPL.
- NeoOffice: free office suite from Planamesa Software for Apple Mac OS X. Licensed in GNU GPL.
- Abiword: free word processor from Abisource. Licensed in GNU GPL v2.
- Gnumeric: free spreadsheet from GNOME Project. Licensed in GNU GPL.
- WebODF: free web based office suite. Licensed in GNU AGPL.
They are safe to use. And their native document formats are safe also.
4. What is OOXML?
Office Open XML (OOXML) is digital document format from Microsoft for word processors, spreadsheets, and presentations. It consists of mainly three formats: DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX. They are popular for being default document format in Microsoft Office 2007 and later. This is non-technical description.
Office Open XML (OOXML) is a XML-based document file format from Microsoft for mainly word processors, spreadsheets, and presentations applications. This format standardized by ECMA (ECMA-376) then by ISO & IEC (ISO/IEC 29500). Technical specification of Office Open XML can be downloaded in http://www.ecma-international.org/publications/standards/Ecma-376.htm. This is technical description.
For more detailed explanation, see below or see section 1 above.
5. Why Microsoft OOXML Format is Need To Be Avoided?
- OOXML is not widely compatible with another software applications, it is best to read/modify perfectly only in Microsoft products (i.e. Microsoft Office). Even different version of Microsoft Office can not or difficult to read same OOXML format from earlier version[Wikipedia, OOXML][Swardley, OOXML][OIDBD, OOXML][ICTS, OOXML][Robweir, OOXML][Office, OOXML].
- OOXML is encumbered in software patents[NOOOXML, Ambush]. That is dangerous for Free Software and Open Source community. Why is patent dangerous? Read below.
- OOXML is covered by not-forever-covering[Arstechnica, Patent] Microsoft Promises[Wikipedia, Promise]. Microsoft promised “not to sue” only for “current” format of OOXML, so there is no guarantee Microsoft will keep their promises for newer version of patent-encumbered OOXML format.
- OOXML consists of 6000 pages long[ECMA, 376] document (to compare it, POSIX/SUSv3[Wikipedia, SUS] is only 3700 pages) so it is really difficult for any Free Software developer to create perfect filter to read/write into OOXML.
- http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/opendocument/reject: this page explains why it is even better to deny Microsoft Office.
- OOXML is second standard approved by ISO after ODF. We need only one standard.
- Read this Linux Foundation Wiki article https://wiki.linuxfoundation.org/en/Architects_on_OOXML mentioning many GNU/Linux software arcitect expert statements about OOXML. Those (Free Software users) who are looking for experts’ statements should read this.
6. Why Software Patent is Dangerous?
Please read more appropriate links stated below explaining how dangerous patent is. I suggest you to read sequentially number by number below.
- https://www.debian.org/reports/patent-faq.en.html: good start to know software patent problems and its impact to any Free Software/Open Source community.
- http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/software-patents.en.html: describing detailed software patent problems, which is bigger than proprietary software problems.
- http://www.getgnulinux.org/en/linux/misunderstanding_free_software (section 4): the best summary of two mentioned articles above, suitable for newbie.
- http://noooxml.wikidot.com/patents: (NO)OOXML is dedicated wiki explaining OOXML format in case of so users can avoid it. Those (Free Software users) who need complete OOXML references should refer to this.
7. Am I Alone With This Patent Problem?
No. Every big community and company in GNU/Linux scope aware about this problem. Please read their defense policies against software patents.
Outside them, there are also organizations to dealing with patent problems against Free Software/Open Source. These are not all, but just what I can collect for now.
8. Am I Alone to Promote ODF?
No. There are many special organizations formed to face these problems. Whether they are developing software to support ODF, or they do fundamental things about ODF, or they do educational purposes to promote ODF. They are:
- http://www.opendocumentformat.org: official site of Open Document Format.
- http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/opendocument: Free Software Foundation’s official statement in supporting ODF.
- http://www.documentliberation.org: one of the most important software project which has developed free libraries for ODF, SVG, and another document formats available in the world.
- http://documentfoundation.org: The Document Foundation, organization which forked OpenOffice.org and created LibreOffice. One of the biggest supporter for ODF.
- https://www.oasis-open.org/standards: OASIS Consortium, the creator of ODF.
- http://libreoffice.org: LibreOffice official site.
- http://en.swpat.org: End Software Patents project’s wiki.
- http://noooxml.wikidot.com: (NO)OOXML, dedicated wiki explaining OOXML for Free Software users.
- http://ooxmlisdefectivebydesign.blogspot.com: personal blog explaining many aspects of OOXML including detailed benchmarks from Free Software users’ prespective.
- http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards: Open Document Format in ISO official list of standards. See section ISO/IEC 26300:2006.
- http://opendocumentfellowship.com: a volunteer organization with members around the world to promote ODF.
- http://opendocument.xml.org: official community gathering for Open Document Format in XML.org.
- http://www.webodf.org: free web based ODF editor.
- https://wiki.linuxfoundation.org/en/Architects_on_OOXML: already explained.
9. So Practically What Can I Do?
- Use LibreOffice in every operating system (including Windows, Mac OS X, BSD, or any further operating system). Or, use any other of its companions mentioned earlier.
- Save as in ODF formats (.odt, .ods, .odp).
- Send email attachments as ODF format. Not in Microsoft OOXML format. Microsoft Office 2010 and later can save and edit ODF.
- Deny politely any .docx (OOXML) email attachment sent by another.
- Encourage people to install LibreOffice in every operating system possible. Or, install any other of its companions.
- Encourage people to use ODF too.
- Educate people like (or more than) this article tells you about importance of the ODF.
- If you are big company, you can consider to support ODF by officially using ODF as your company document format or donate to LibreOffice development project. Of course you can donate to another of its companions too.
- If you provide software service, you can consider to support ODF as your service document format. For example, if you have web based (server based) service, please add read/modify ODF document support.
- Translate this article into your language and spread it.
- Create better article than this and spread it.
- Put ODF banners (or edit it first) created by me in your blogs.
- Create better banners than mine.
- [TDF, OOXML] https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/LibreOffice_OOXML
- [Swapnil, OOXML] http://www.linuxveda.com/2014/11/29/never-use-microsofts-ooxml-pseudo-standard-format
- [Wikibooks, Benefit] https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/FOSS_Open_Standards/Importance_and_Benefits_of_Open_Standards#Benefits_of_Using_Open_Standards
- [OpenDocument Fellowship, Government] http://www.opendocumentfellowship.com/government
- [OASIS, Benefit] https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/download.php/21450/oasis_odf_advantages_10dec2006.pdf
- [OpenForumEurope, Government] http://openforumeurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OFE-COIS-DFD-ODF-Open-Document-Principles-for-Government-Technology-March-2015.pdf
- [Wikipedia, OOXML] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Office_XML_formats#Limitations_and_differences_with_Office_Open_XML
- [Swardley, OOXML] http://blog.gardeviance.org/2013/12/once-more-unto-breach-dear-friends-once.html
- [OIDBD, OOXML] http://ooxmlisdefectivebydesign.blogspot.co.id/2008/03/backwards-compatible-one-more-lie-by.html
- [ICTS, OOXML] http://www.icts.uct.ac.za/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7076
- [Robweir, OOXML] http://www.robweir.com/blog/2006/09/ooxml-compatibility-pack.html
- [Office, OOXML] https://support.office.com/en-ca/article/Open-a-Word-2016-or-2013-document-in-an-earlier-version-of-Word-45C4DD2F-BF7B-4A0D-9FF2-7B2FF6B733F0
- [NOOOXML, Ambush] http://noooxml.wikidot.com/patents
- [Arstechnica, Patent] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2008/03/sflc-ooxml-could-poses-patent-threat-to-gpl-licensed-software
- [Wikipedia, Promise] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Open_Specification_Promise
- [ECMA, 376] http://www.ecma-international.org/publications/standards/Ecma-376.htm
- [Wikipedia, SUS] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_UNIX_Specification