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OASIS Forms ODF Interop Committee

OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) has formed a new committee to foster interoperability and conformance with the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard, according to an announcement issued on Monday by the not-for-profit consortium.

ODF, or ISO/IEC 26300:2006, is one of two international standards covering open XML document formats used in office productivity suites. The other is ISO/IEC 29500, which is based on the Office Open XML document formats used in Microsoft Office 2007.

ODF is used in office productivity suites from Sun Microsystems, IBM and others.

The new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance (OIC) Committee consists of representatives from industry, government and other institutions. The OIC Committee members will be working to "deliver true data interoperability for office applications," according to an OASIS-issued statement.

More specifically, the committee aims to draw up guidelines that will help implementers write applications that conform to the ODF OASIS Standard.

The OIC Committee includes members from IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Google, Novell, Red Hat, the U.S. Department of Defense, Belgian FEDICT, the South Africa Dept. of Science and Technology and others.

Microsoft was not listed as an OIC Committee member in OASIS' press release. However, the company announced in May that it had joined OASIS' ODF efforts and planned to support ODF with the release of Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2.

Microsoft is a Foundational Sponsor of OASIS and is welcome to participate in the OIC Committee, according to an e-mail from OASIS.

"OASIS has more than 60 Committees, and members are free to participate in whichever Committees they choose; companies may join a Committee at any time," said Carol Geyer, director of communications for OASIS. "We fully expect the OIC roster of participants to grow as the Committee gets underway."

Enterprises, governments and institutions see a need for the use of open standards, especially as proprietary document formats get abandoned. Interoperability also remains a key issue.

Alex Brown, a convener of the Office Open XML standardization process, illustrated the interoperability problem in a recent blog. He described how a simple table with cells of varying colors -- all conforming to the ODF standard -- showed significantly different renderings in OpenOffice 2.4, Word 2007 and Google Docs.

Brown described it as "a minor failure of interoperability," but noted that such a failure could have significant effect on cells containing important information, such as in medical or financial reports.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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