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U.K. Endorses OpenDocument Format

The United Kingdom is the latest government to express support for the OpenDocument Format standard, which competes with Microsoft's Extensible Markup Language-based format (XML).

ODF is a set of formats for office documents that has been approved by the International Organization for Standardization. Seventeen national and eight provincial governments worldwide have endorsed ODF for document exchange. Use of the standard is mandatory in the Netherlands.

The U.K. government is requiring compliance with open standards when feasible. It will work to ensure that government information is available in open formats and make open formats a required standard for government Web sites under its "Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: Government Action Plan."

More than 50 word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications now support ODF. The standard has also expanded to incorporate mobile devices, Web conferencing applications, document management systems, wiki editors, viewers, converters, accessibility tools, database software and programming libraries, according to the OpenDocument Format Alliance. As of December 2008, the alliance included 584 member organizations in 63 countries.

For a comprehensive list and description of government policy initiatives that endorse ODF, click here.

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