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Australia mulls requiring OpenDocument Format compatibility

PCWorld -  Australia’s government may mandate that its agencies use software compatible with OpenDocument Format (ODF), an international file standard.

The country’s government agencies mostly use Microsoft’s Office software, but support for an open standard eliminates the “potential for a vendor ending support for specific format,” wrote John Sheridan, Australia’s chief technical officer.

If the draft proposal is approved, however, government agencies would not be required to work only with ODF documents, Sheridan wrote. The proposal is now open for comments and will eventually be taken up by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board for approval.

If ODF support is mandated, Australia would follow a number of European countries that have required that government agencies be able to use open file standards.

ODF was approved as an international standard in May 2006. It is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file format that sprang from OpenOffice, a free, open-source office application suite. The standard is open and can be implemented by any software vendor.

The standard is supported in Google Docs, Lotus Symphony, OpenOffice, StarOffice as well as later versions of Microsoft’s Office.