ODF vs. CDF: Storm in a Tea Cup?

Nov 02, 2007

An organization calling itself the Open Document Foundation has given rise to rumors and speculation concerning the free document standard Open Document Format, ODF, of late. Leading members of the ODF Alliance say that it would be wrong to overestimate the significance of the Open Document Foundation.

The Open Document Foundation is a group that has set itself the task of supporting the document standard. In blog entries and the media, the institution has criticized the development of the standard, and its official representatives, and threatened to withdraw its support for the popular format in favor of the WWW standard, CDF. Linux Magazine asked Marino Marcich, the CEO of the ODF Alliance, to comment on the latest discussion, he responded saying: "I have heard about the discussion, but it's no more than scraping the surface. The Open Document Foundation submitted a proposal to the committee and the committee discussed it and turned it down". He went on to say: "ODF is supported by so many enterprises and organizations, such as IBM. If global players levied the same kind of criticism, this would be a different matter." Rob Weir, an IBM employee and ODF support has already commented on this development in his blog. In Weir's opinion the importance of the Open Document Foundation is overestimated due to its choice of name: "The "OpenDocument Foundation" sounds so official. Although it has no official role in the ODF standard, this name opens doors." His comment on the amount of attention the foundation is attracting is scathing: "Not bad for two guys without a garage."

In his blog, Sam Hiser, vice president of the Open Document Foundation, criticized the fact that ODF is not sufficiently coordinated with the competing Microsoft OOXML format from Office 2007. Rob Weir contradicts the self-appointed spokespeople in detail in many points, saying: "I find this observation amusing. ODF, which started its standards track late in 2002, was not designed to be 100% compatible with Office 2007. Mercy me, how did we manage to drop the ball on this one?!" IBM's vice president for standards and Open Source, Bob Sutor, confirmed to media representatives that IBM will continue to support the free ODF document standard.

Standardization of Microsoft's OOXML format was recently rejected in first instance by ISO organizations. In contrast to this, ODF is prospering as a certified document format as Linux Magazine has reported previously.

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