Document Actions

Portuguese government adopts OpenDocument Format - Andy Updegrove - According to a press release issued by the Portuguese Open Source Business Association, the government of Portugal has decided to approve a single editable, XML-based document format for use by government, and in public procurement. And that format is not OOXML.

Instead, the Portuguese government has opted for ODF, the OpenDocument Format, as well as PDF and a number of other formats and protocols, including XML, XMPP, IMAP, SMTP, CALDAV and LDAP. The announcement is in furtherance of a law passed by the Portuguese Parliament on June 21 of last year requiring compliance with open standards (as defined in the same legislation) in the procurement of government information systems and when exchanging documents at citizen-facing government websites (an unofficial English translation is here).

While exceptions are permitted under the law in the case of "impossibility," an agency making that contention must report and justify that conclusion, as well as provide a defense of its proposed alternative, to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, whose decision to grant or reject the request is final. All of the foregoing must be posted at a public portal to be provided for that purpose, and if the request is granted, the determination must be periodically revisited thereafter.

The Portuguese decision is reminiscent of a decision (later overruled) taken by the CIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2005, which sparked a global standards war between supporters of ODF, developed by OASIS, a global standards consortium, and the Open Office XML Format, created by Microsoft. Shortly after OASIS announced that it would submit ODF to ISO/IEC for adoption, Microsoft contributed OOXML to ECMA, another consortium. In due course, ODF was adopted by Joint Technical Committee 1 as an ISO/IEC standard.