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The State of ODF in OASIS

The year 2008 was a great year for ODF. The ODF Alliance has published their 2008 Annual Report [PDF] which is well-worth reading, especially for its coverage of ODF adoption. The date has long passed since I last could keep up with all the news stories related to ODF, so it is good to read over the report and see some of the accomplishments which I failed to note at the time.

It was a good year in OASIS as well, for ODF. The ODF TC, which I co-chair, created a new Subcommittee to investigate ODF-Next requirements, and we created a new OASIS TC, to join with the existing ODF TC and ODF Adoption TC, to work on “Interoperability and Conformance“. We also saw a substantial increased in participation in the ODF activities, spurred by the increased demand for ODF and the increased maturity of ODF implementations.

A few statistics you might find interesting on the level of participation in OASIS TC’s related to ODF, based on a tally I did this morning:

  • The three ODF TC’s have 81 members from 28 corporations/organizations, as well as 9 individual members. This count does not include the even larger number of OASIS members who are “observers” in these TC’s.
  • Large companies with participants in these TC’s include IBM, Google, Sun, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, Intel, RedHat, etc. a virtual “Who’s Who” of the tech sector.
  • Members reside in 13 different countries.
  • 16 TC members are also members of their JTC1 or JTC1/SC34 NB’s. A total of 7 NB’s currently have members in the ODF TC’s.
  • The TC’s and SC’s had 95 meetings in 2008 and their current schedule calls for a combined 10 hours of teleconferences per month.
  • The main ODF TC had 439 person-hours of meetings in 2008.
  • The mailings lists for the TC’s received 2,594 posts in 2008, including 95 agendas and 95 meeting minutes.
  • ODF’s public comment list received 603 comments in 2008.

So 2008 was a good year, with robust participation from a wide range of stake holders in the development, maintenance and promotion of ODF in OASIS. I’m hoping for even greater participation and accomplishment in 2009, in spite of less-than-rosy economic conditions.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Anonymous 2009/01/27, 2:05 pm

    Somebody’s got to ask…

    When is ODF 1.2 going to see the light of day? I think it’s about 6 months behind a rough and ready schedule that you outlined a while back. While I appreciate it’ll be ready when it’s ready, would you be so kind as to update the hoped for schedule again, please?

    My personal main reason for wanting it is the standardisation of spreadsheet formula representation, and more importantly the standardisation of the mathematical formualae behind them, but there’s lots of other incremental additions and improvements that I’d really like to see bedded in before moving wholesale from the other formats that are littering my archives. I only really want to go through the pain of conversion once.

  • Rob 2009/01/27, 3:09 pm

    We’re getting close for ODF 1.2 For a while we were suffering from a bit of “feature creep”. A quick calculation in November showed that if we processed all of the remaining TC member proposals for ODF 1.2 (numbering around 50), ODF 1.2 would not finish for another year!

    So in December the TC agreed to prioritize the remaining proposals and process only a limited number of them. We completing discussion and approval of these remaining proposals just two weeks ago. They are being integrated in the text of the draft now. That is a big step forward and moves ODF 1.2 from a feature development phase to an editing and review phase.

    The key milestone will be publication of the draft and a call for public comments. This should happen within a month or two. That review process and the subsequent balloting process will take an additional 5-6 months.

  • Anonymous 2009/01/28, 4:19 am

    Thank-you for the update, Rob. I’m a firm believer in Open Standards, so it’s good to know definite progress is being made.

    There is an open source mantra along the lines of ‘release early and release often’, and while I can see having a new, improved, standard every month could be irritating (and a lot of work), clear indications of prgress are always good.

    More frequent releases would be aided if both forwards and backwards compatibility were built in: that is to say, knowing that an application built to process version 1.0 standard items will not break version n.m standard items; and knowing than an application built to process version 3.5 standard items will be able to process and produce version 1.0 standard items.

    Best wishes for reaching the milestone of the publication of the draft soon.

  • Rob 2009/01/28, 10:24 am

    I’m generally a fan of “release early and often” as well. The challenge with an International Standard like ODF is that after every word is written and the text is technically and editorially complete, there remains a lengthy approval process, the balloting in OASIS and in ISO/IEC JTC1, which combined can amount to over a year. Add on top of that the equally time consuming process of transposing the approved ODF standard into national standards around the world, which sometimes requires also translation of the text into the native language, etc.

    So even if we ensure backwards compatibility, we still are limited in the how frequently we can release new versions. one compromise is to publish more frequent updates at levels below a full standard, so more frequent Committee Drafts and Committee Specifications. That allows us to get more timely feedback from implementers and the public as well as gives a target for implementers to aim for.

  • Bart Hanssens 2009/01/30, 1:56 pm

    Mm, not sure if “release often” is a good thing when dealing with standards… Of course, releasing drafts “early” on a frequently basis is a Very Good Thing, but generally I like the standards themselves to move at glacial speeds.

    That being said, 1.2 will be a real improvement, especially the new meta data framework (back-office applications and semantic crawlers, here we come) and the digital signature support (everyone has an eID card in Belgium, so we’re very much into DSIG).

    Keep up the good work !

  • Rick Jelliffe 2009/01/30, 8:46 pm

    It is great to see the ODF effort with renewed vigour, focus and wider stakeholder participation. Well done to all involved.

  • Mike 2009/02/13, 4:19 am


    Any comment on the article “Snoozing at the Oasis” in PCPro (UK)?:


    Simon Jones is an arch-apologist for Microsoft (just in case you hadn’t worked that out!)


    – Mike

  • Rob 2009/02/13, 12:35 pm

    The article should be called “Snoozing at PcPro”. The author appears to be ignorant about OASIS and JTC1 process, and about standards in general. It doesn’t help that Simon gets the facts wrong as well. It reads like second-hand Alex Brown/Rick Jelliffe agitprop.

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