Stand up for Open Standards - and ODF

Around a month ago, I wrote a post about an interesting proposal from the Cabinet Office to standardise on HTML and ODF (plus a couple of minor formats) as part of its “Sharing or collaborating with government documents" project. As well...

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Around a month ago, I wrote a post about an interesting proposal from the Cabinet Office to standardise on HTML and ODF (plus a couple of minor formats) as part of its “Sharing or collaborating with government documents" project. As well as those recommendations, this was also notable for the extremely open way in which the policy had been formulated. That included soliciting yet more feedback on the plans.

Back in January, I urged people to do that, since this call represents the best opportunity we have yet finally to get ODF supported by government in the way it deserves, with all the benefits of open standards and lack of lock-in that this implies. I’m please to see that people have indeed responded (not, I hasten to add, because of my call...), and we now have a large number of comments broadly supporting the move to a main document standard.

Given the consultation closes on Wednesday (not really clear if that’s Wednesday evening or Tuesday evening – might be best to assume the latter) , I’d like to urge anyone who hasn’t already offered their thoughts to do so. It’s very easy (registration takes about a minute), and it’s very informal: you just type in your thoughts, then submit. These don’t need to be long and complex; lots of people have written pretty much what I did, a short comment to the effect that they support the proposal:

I think the emphasis on digital by default is absolutely correct, as is the implication that HTML should be the default format for browser-based editable text. This then leaves those other situations where for whatever reason browser-based solutions are not available, and here the choice must clearly be truly open standards to avoid vendor lock-in and to promote wide interoperability. Again, that leads inevitably to ODF as the default format, as suggested in the proposal.

It really can be that short – or even shorter – so there’s no excuse for not taking five minutes to support open standards in the UK.

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