Document Actions

Beyond Open Standards and Open Access

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the huge win for open standards - and thus, by implication open source - in the realm of document formats in the UK. There's an interesting Cabinet Office document from 25 March that is the record of the meeting where the final decision to go with PDF, HTML5 and ODF was taken. It's well-worth reading for the insights that it provides into the thinking behind the move, and for some important points it raises, not least the issue I mentioned - interoperability:

A concern about ODF was raised in respect of the likely result of multiple formats and impacts on interoperability. Examples of existing tools were raised that implement ODF 1.2, although the Board suggested that care would need to be taken to avoid adopting a different type of monoculture. The Board also recognised that standards-based document interoperability requires more work in terms of guidance than a monoculture requires.

That point about more work being required for an open ecosystem than for a monoculture is noteworthy: it means that companies, for example, need to recognise that the benefits of open standards and interoperability do come with a cost, albeit one that is not primarily financial, but more to do with management and culture.

Here's a nice bit of wisdom that should ease the problem of interoperability: