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ODF Alliance Announced
Friday, March 03 2006 @ 08:59 AM EST

Big news on the Open Document front. Today, the ODF Alliance was announced. The ODF Alliance is an international group of industry partners, associations, NGOs and academic/research institutions. Here's the purpose, to build global support for the use of ODF:
As documents and services are increasingly transformed from paper to electronic form, there is growing recognition that governments and their constituents may not be able to access, retrieve and use critical records, information and documents in the future. A broad cross-section of associations, academic institutions, industry and related groups today joined together to form the OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), an organization dedicated to promoting open solutions to this problem.

As technologies rapidly evolve, documents are created by public sector agencies using different applications that may not be compatible with one another today, let alone into the future. Through the use of a truly open standard file format that can be implemented by numerous and varied applications, the Alliance seeks to enable governments and their constituents to use, access and store critical documents, records and information both today and in the future, independent of the applications or enterprise platforms used for their creation or future access.

Specifically, the ODF Alliance supports the use of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an open XML-based collection of office document formats, including text, presentation and spreadsheet formats. ODF, the only established open standard document format, enables the retrieval of information and exchange of documents between different applications, agencies and/or business partners in a platform and application independent way.

Members include corporations you would expect to be part of this push, such as IBM and Sun and Novell and Red Hat, and some you'll be happy to see on the list, like Corel and Oracle and Opera Software, and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the City of Vienna, and quite a collection of educational and library associations, such as the American Library Association, the Indian Institute of Technology, the Technical University of Denmark and tarent GmbH.

Your organization can join too, of course, as the press release states:

The Alliance is building support globally for use and recognition of ODF, and all organizations that share its goals are welcomed to join the effort. Organizations can join by visiting the Alliance web site at:

In recent months, jurisdictions such as the State of Massachusetts in the United States and others around the world are leading the way, by embracing open document formats. According to recent press reports, 13 nations globally are considering adoption of the OpenDocument format.

And yes, Microsoft can join, too.

Here's the complete membership, which will undoubtedly continue to grow:

Adullact Association;
American Library Association;
Ark Linux;
The Association of Open Source Suppliers and Vendors in Denmark;
Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (India);
Cognitran Ltd;
Corel Corporation;
CSW Group Ltd;
EMC Corporation;
Friends of OpenDocument, Inc.;
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT);
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the City of Vienna;
Information Program, Open Society Institute;
International Open Source Network;
Justsystem Corporation;
Massachusetts High Tech Council;
Massachusetts Network Communications Council;
Open Society Archives of the Central European University (OSA Archivum);
OpenForum Europe;
OpenDocument Fellowship;
The OpenDocument Foundation, Inc.;;
Opera Software;
Optaros, Inc.;
Oracle Corporation;
OSS Alliance;
Propylon Ltd;
Red Hat, Inc.;
Software & Information Industry Association;
Sun Microsystems;
the Technical University of Denmark
and tarent GmbH.

You can read about the new organization here:

What does it mean? To me, it means that there will be no future Peter Quinn left to take the heat all by himself. So, if you are a CIO for a governmental agency, and you are very much not wanting to experience what he did, this announcement means that you will have the support you need to make a successful transition, if that is the direction chosen. And if there are hostile hearings scheduled, such as we witnessed happen in Massachusetts, there will be people ready and qualified to speak up, with white papers and studies and success stories at the ready to unFUD the FUD. Or as the ODF Alliance website puts it:

The alliance works globally to educate policymakers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of the OpenDocument Format, to help ensure that government information, records and documents are accessible across platforms and applications, even as technologies change today and in the future.

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