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Texas, Minnesota and ODF

So I'm about a day behind delivering this story. Sorry about that. 🙂

Texas and Minnesota are debating making the move to ODF following the example of Massachusetts, for all of the official government documents. This is good news for ODF supporters and fans. Not so good news for Microsoft and Office Open XML supporters and fans. In fact, Microsoft is facing a new hill to climb. Their approval or rejection application was just delayed another 3 months, and it may be conceded all together.

But, can you blame any of the states wanting to make the move to ODF? Lets compare the two, shall we (updated a bit)?

OpenDocument Microsoft OXML
Is an ISO standardISO/IEC 26300:2006 Not an ISO standard
While OXML is an Ecma standard, Ecma standards are not considered international standards for the purposes of international law. That's why ISO approval is important. Gartner predicts that ISO will not approve OXML as an ISO standard.
Is vendor neutral Is a one-company format
The purpose of Ecma TC45 is to produce a format "that is fully compatible with [the format] submitted by Microsoft". In other words, they cannot make any substantive changes to the format. They can only rubber stamp it.
Many implementations
applications list
ZERO implementations
As of January 2007, there isn't a single product in the market that implements the format. Not even from Microsoft.
5 years of development
(in a standards body)
1 year of development
(in a standards body)
Readily intuitive to those familiar with HTML or DocBook.
See the technical comparison for details. The cryptic nature of OXML markup leads to higher development costs.
Proven technology
Reuses proven standards like SVG and XLink.
Reinvents the wheel.
Easier to implement
700 pages
Single file 11MB PDF spec
Reuses existing standards.
Harder to implement
6,000 pages
6 files in 45MB PDF spec
Reinvents the wheel.

It should be plain that ODF is the obvious winner. I'm glad to see states like Massachusetts, Texas and Minnesota considering ODF for their government documents. Countries should follow suit. Regardless of office software, ODF should be the default file format for any text-based application.

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