File Under: Web Basics

Faux Foundation Abandons Standards Ship

ODF.jpgLast week we told you that the OpenDocument Foundation, one of the many vocal backers of the Open Document Format used by OpenOffice and others, was dropping its support for ODF and instead wanted to push an obscure W3C document spec.

The Foundation’s leader said at the time “ODF is writing itself into history as a meetoo proprietary, application-tied specification with no intention to provide the market requirement of universal interop. ODF is therefore a sideline drama, only useful insofar as it has provided a foil for OOXML.”

I went on to write: “it is nice to see that at least some part of office document debate is actually on the real-world user’s side. After all, most of us really don’t care what format our documents are in as long as all our applications can open them. And right now that sort of cross-application compatibility is little more than a pipe dream.”

However it would appear that my faith in the OpenDocument Foundation was misplaced. The Foundation (which as we’ve noted before, was never officially affiliated with the format) seems to have packed up its bags and disappeared. The website is gone and there’s no word from Sam Hiser on his blog.

So I was wrong. Can I get some mustard for this crow?

Hiser and company may have contributed a fair bit to ODF over the years and have done a pretty good job of promoting the format until lately, but in the end they seem to have flown the coop.

That said, some of the Foundations ideas aren’t necessarily bad. Hiser seems to have been attracted to the W3C spec, CDF, at least in part, becuase of the idea that it would be server-based format. With more of us using online office suites, it seems like a decent idea.

Desktop word processors like OpenOffice or Microsoft Office are built on the assumed workflow that goes something like: create a private document and edit-review-change via email. But with the editing model moving more toward a online sharing/collaborating workflow, it might make sense to have an entirely new open format.

Whether or not CDF is a good choice for such a model is open to debate, but apparently the OpenDocument Foundation won’t be around to participate in that debate.

So what does this mean for ODF? Nothing really. The format will continue as it has — an open source format backed by ISO approval.

[via Slashdot and Andy Upgrove]

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