OpenDoc group ranks surge; expect global support

Promoters of the Open Document file standard say membership has quadrupled. They now expect a favorable vote when it comes time for ISO certification next month.

Only one month old and the number of companies that support the Open Document file format standard has quadrupled, a testament to the number of companies that believe an open standard file for documents is imperative.

The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance) was formed to combat what members think is an approaching digital dark age where documents would be rendered unreadable because the proprietary software that created them no longer exists.

The group, including some of its founders -- IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp. -- began in March with 36 members and now boasts 138 members worldwide. Today, digital documents are created using different applications that may not be compatible with each other. The ODF alliance supports an open standard file format like Open Document to enable governments to use, access and store documents, records and information both today and in the future.

For more on OpenDocument:

Open or closed? OpenDocument debate spills into LinuxWorld

OpenDocument Alliance to fight 'digital Dark Age'

Ken Wasch, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Software & Information Industry Association, said that in addition to continued vendor and open source support, the ODF Alliance had also seen an uptick in support from state governments and municipalities.

The most notable pick up for open formats among state governments arrived this month when a bill requiring state agencies to use open data formats was introduced in Minnesota.

Neither Microsoft's Office desktop software suite nor ODF were mentioned, but the bill is similar to a recently resolved debate in the Massachusetts state government. Massachusetts will require the use of ODF in 2007, but officials have also said they would evaluate Microsoft's Office 2007 when the software is ready.

The ODF Alliance is now supporting the adoption of the ODF as a worldwide standard of the ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission. The ODF Alliance and its members have contacted various national voting entities recommending approval and are optimistic of a positive outcome.

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