The OpenDocument format (ODF) is a file format for electronic office documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents. While the specifications were originally developed by Sun, the standard was developed by the Open Office XML technical committee of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) consortium and based on the XML format originally created and implemented by the office suite (see XML). As well as a free and open OASIS Standard, it is (in its version 1.0 manifestation) published as an ISO/IEC International Standard, ISO/IEC 26300:2006 Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0. The OpenDocument standard meets the common definitions of an open standard, meaning the specification is freely available and implementable.


The most common filename extensions used for OpenDocument documents are:

A basic OpenDocument file consists of an XML document that has as its root element. OpenDocument files can also take the format of a ZIP compressed archive containing a number of files and directories; these can contain binary content and benefit from ZIP's lossless compression to reduce file size. OpenDocument benefits from separation of concerns by separating the content, styles, metadata and application settings into four separate XML files.

There is a comprehensive set of sample documents in OpenDocument Format available. The whole test suite is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.


The OpenDocument standard was developed by a Technical Committee (TC) under the OASIS industry consortium. The ODF-TC has members from a diverse set of companies and individuals. Active TC members have voting rights. Currently this means that Sun and IBM have a voting majority. The standardization process involved the developers of many office suites or related document systems. The first official ODF-TC meeting to discuss the standard was December 16, 2002; OASIS approved OpenDocument as an OASIS Standard on May 1, 2005. OASIS submitted the ODF specification to ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) on November 16, 2005, under Publicly Available Specification (PAS) rules.

After a six-month review period, on May 3, 2006 OpenDocument unanimously passed its six-month DIS ballot in JTC1, with broad participation, after which the OpenDocument specification was "approved for release as an ISO and IEC International Standard" under the name ISO/IEC 26300:2006.

After responding to all written ballot comments, and a 30-day default ballot, the OpenDocument International standard went to publication in ISO, officially published November 30, 2006.

The Italian standardization organization UNI adopted OpenDocument on January 26, 2007.

Further standardization work with OpenDocument includes:

  • OpenDocument 1.0 (second edition) is the published ISO/IEC 26300:2006 standard. It also has the status of a Committee Specification in OASIS. It includes all the editorial changes made to address JTC1 ballot comments, and as such it reflects the approved ISO/IEC 26300:2006 standard, as published by ISO and IEC. It is available in ODT, HTML and PDF formats.
  • OpenDocument 1.1 was approved by OASIS on October 19, 2006. It includes additional features to address accessibility concerns. The Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Specification v1.1 was approved as an OASIS Standard on 2007-02-01 following a call for vote issued on 2007-01-16. The public announcement was made on 2007-02-13.
  • OpenDocument 1.2 is currently being written by the ODF TC. It will include additional accessibility features, metadata enhancements, spreadsheet formula specification based on the OpenFormula work (ODF 1.0 did not specify spreadsheet formulae in detail, leaving many aspects implementation-defined) as well as any errata submitted by the public. Originally OpenDocument 1.2 was expected by October 2007 but now is expected to become an OASIS standard around September 2008 and a new ISO/SEC version by summer of 2009.

On 30 April 2008, ISO/IEC DIS 29500 BRM conveyor Alex Brown posted a blog entry claiming that, the main implementation of ODF, was not then in conformance with the ISO/IEC 26300:2006 specification as approved in 2006. He also said he was unsure if any office implementation has true ISO/IEC 26300 standard support for OpenDocument. OASIS ODF TC Co-Chair Rob Weir disputed his findings by claiming that Brown validated an OpenOffice ODF version 1.1 document using the ISO/SEC ODF version 1.0, and got validation problems because he used the official OASIS Committee specification RELAX NG DTD Compatibility settings which are not submitted to ISO However Weir's article also confirms that OpenOffice 2.4 output is declared in OASIS ODF 1.1, a version which also has not been yet submitted to ISO/IEC, which is planned (as part of ODF 1.2) for 2009.

Application support


The OpenDocument format is used in free software and in proprietary software. This includes office suites (both traditional and web-based) and individual applications such as word-processors, spreadsheets, presentation, and data management applications. Prominent office suites supporting OpenDocument include:

The OpenDocument Fellowship maintains a list of software and services that support the OpenDocument format. The list also provides information on the status of support for the format.

Third parties have announced development of conversion software (including plugins and filters) to support OpenDocument on Microsoft's products. Currently there are nine packages of conversion software.

Microsoft Office does not natively support OpenDocument currently. Microsoft has created the Open XML translator project to allow the conversion of documents between Office Open XML and OpenDocument. As a result of this project, Microsoft finances the ODF add-in for Word project on SourceForge. This project is an effort by several of Microsoft's partners to create a plugin for Microsoft Office that will be freely available under a BSD license. The project released version 1.0 for Microsoft Word of this software in January 2007 followed by versions for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint in December of the same year. Sun Microsystems has created the competing OpenDocument plugin for Microsoft Office 2007 (Service Pack 1 or higher), 2000, XP, and 2003 that supports Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents.

On May 21 2008 Microsoft announced that Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will add native support for the OpenDocument Format. It will offer the option to make ODF 1.1, as well as PDF, the default format, both in the installer and via options settings, while support for their own pending ISO 29500, based on the Office 2007 format, won't be implemented until Office 14.

Mac OS X 10.5 offers both a new TextEdit version and QuickLook feature supporting the OpenDocument Text format (albeit with some formatting loss).


The specification of OpenDocument has undergone an extensive accessibility review, and a few additions were made to version 1.1 of the specification to improve accessibility. Many of the components it is built on, such as Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language and Scalable Vector Graphics, have already gone through the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative processes.


The OpenDocument specification, as initially approved by OASIS, is available for free download and use. The international standard, adopted by the ISO, is available according to the ISO's pricing policy, currently CHF 345.

Key contributor Sun Microsystems made an irrevocable intellectual property covenant, providing all implementers with the guarantee that Sun will not seek to enforce any of its enforceable U.S. or foreign patents against any implementation of the OpenDocument specification in which development Sun participates to the point of incurring an obligation. This Statement is not an assurance that an OpenDocument Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party. The covenant is limited to versions of the OpenDocument specification on which Sun has participated to the point of incurring an obligation. Suns patent promise only applies to a future version of the format if Sun Microsystems still participates in development of that subsequent standard version.

The second key contributor to ODF development, IBM which for instance has contributed Lotus spreadsheet documentation has made their patent rights available through their Interoperability Specifications Pledge in which IBM irrevocably covenants to you that it will not assert any Necessary Claims against you for your making, using, importing, selling, or offering for sale Covered Implementations. IBM's ISP licensing for OpenDocument is limited to existing listed versions (currently v1.0 and v1.1) and do not to future versions, similar to Microsoft's Open Specification Promise on Office Open XML however unlike the OSP license from Microsoft that also covers partial and imperfect implementations IBM grants their patent licensing only to fully compliant implementations of OpenDocument.

"Covered Implementations" are those specific portions of a product (...) that implement and comply with a Covered Specification AND are included in a fully compliant implementation of that Covered Specification


The work of OASIS includes promoting the OpenDocument Format through the OASIS OpenDocument Adoption Technical Committee.

There is a set of OpenDocument icons which can be used for services and systems that use the OpenDocument format.

The Suite and the KOffice Suite promote the OpenDocument Format, as it is used as their default file format. Several groups and companies support the OpenDocument Format. For example:

  • Companies like Sun Microsystems, IBM, Novell promote the OpenDocument Format actively, as well as other companies who may or may not be working inside the OpenDocument Format's Technical Committee of the OASIS.
  • The OpenDocument Format Alliance was founded in March 2006 by the 35 founding members. In July 2006 the foundation already had more than 280 members.
  • The OpenDocument Fellowship was founded to support and promote these formats.
  • was the first one to promote the OpenDocument Format to the public in August 2005.
  • On November 4, 2005, IBM and Sun Microsystems convened the "OpenDocument (ODF) Summit" in Armonk, New York, to discuss how to boost OpenDocument adoption. The ODF Summit brought together representatives from several industry groups and technology companies, including Oracle, Google, Adobe, Novell, Red Hat, Computer Associates, Corel, Nokia, Intel, and Linux e-mail company Scalix. (LaMonica, November 10, 2005). The providers committed resources to technically improve OpenDocument through existing standards bodies and to promote its usage in the marketplace, possibly through a stand-alone foundation.
  • The OpenDocument Foundation, Inc. is a US-based 501c(3) non profit organization chartered to work in the public interest who has supported the OASIS OpenDocument File Format up to October 2007.
  • The (Open Interoperative Document Initiative) is committed to encouraging efforts by governments at all levels, around the globe, to implement changes necessary to ensure public documents are open and interoperable and thus available to all citizens/residents without the need for specific vendor software.
  • Google Docs can import and export OpenDocument text files.
  • In December 2007, the Wikimedia Foundation announced that by mid 2008 its software, which hosts Wikipedia and a number of other Internet wiki-based sites, will provide OpenDocument export of wiki content.

Worldwide adoption

One objective of open formats like OpenDocument is to guarantee long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers, and some governments have come to view open formats as a public policy issue. OpenDocument is intended to be an alternative to proprietary formats, including the commonly used DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office and other applications. Up until Feb 15th 2008, the specification for the Microsoft Office binary formats were only obtainable by writing directly to Microsoft Corporation signing a free license to use the formats. As of Feb 15th 2008, the specificifications for the Microsoft Office binary documents are available for download. Microsoft will support the use of OpenDocument in Microsoft Office 2007 starting with servicepack 2. Several plugins allow use of Opendocument in earlier Microsoft Office versions.

Since July 2008, NATO has added ISO/IEC 26300:2006 (ODF 1.0) to its list of mandatory standards for all members.

The governments of the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, France and Norway have been evaluating the adoption of the OpenDocument format. Other governments around the world are also considering the adoption of the format. In October 2006, a report commissioned by the then French prime minister Dominique de Villepin recommended that all French government publications be made available in OpenDocument Format. In July 2007, the Norwegian Standards Council recommended to the government the use of the OpenDocument format.

Norway's Ministry of Government Administration and Reform decided in December 2007 that from 2009 ODF 1.0 (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) must be one of the formats used when publishing documents that are meant to be changed after downloading, i.e. forms that are to be filled in by the user.

The Belgian federal administration plans to exchange all documents in ODF from September 2008. All federal administrations should be able to read ODF documents one year earlier.

In Japan, on June 29, 2007, the government published a new interoperability framework which gives preference to the procurement of products that follow open standards including the ODF standards.

In Germany ISO/IEC 26300:2006 (ODF 1.0) is the standard that is recommended by the governmental office for standards in public IT („Koordinierungs- und Beratungsstelle der Bundesregierung für Informationstechnik in der Bundesverwaltung“ (KBSt), see SAGA 4.0). ODF-formatted documents may be transferred to some courts (the Federal Court of Justice and the Federal Patent Court) since September 2007.

In Malaysia the use of ODF is adopted by The Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) from April 2008 on.


Various criticisms have been levelled at the approved ODF standard.

  • Use of MathML for mathematical typesetting in the ODF specification. MathML is a W3C recommendation for the "inclusion of mathematical expressions in Web pages" and "machine to machine communication" that has been around since about 1999. However, most mathematicians continue to use the much older TeX format as their main method for typesetting complex mathematical formulae. TeX is not an ISO standard, but is fully documented and is the de facto standard for typesetting mathematical expressions. There exists a converter from (La)TeX to ODT, including mathematical formulas. OpenDocument is also criticized for not using the ISO 12083:1994 standard for mathematical formulae, which is not used within MathML either. MathML has a few issues with displaying mathematical formulae well, compared to other methods like TeX.
  • The OpenDocument ISO specification does not contain a defined formula language. This means that ISO conforming files do not have to be compatible. OASIS is working on creating a standard formula language (OpenFormula) for OpenDocument v1.2 which was due in 2007.
  • The OpenDocument ISO specification does not allow for tables in presentations. This is due to be incorporated in the OpenDocument v1.2 specification which was due in 2007. A current recommendation or workaround is to embed a spreadsheet into the presentation to provide the required functionality.
  • Different applications using ODF as a standard document format have different methods of providing macro/scripting capabilities. There is no macro language specified in ODF. Users and developers differ on whether inclusion of a standard scripting language would be desirable.
  • Microsoft's Brian Jones has claimed that OpenDocument's method of handling application specific namespace extensions is excessively complex compared to the Office Open XML specification, which was designed by Microsoft.
  • Even though allows digital signatures and stores them in ODF files according to XML-DSig, the OpenDocument Format 1.0-1.1 itself has no reference to the digital signature. Digital signature is application-specific feature in the OpenDocument v1.1 standard. However, OpenDocument v1.2 will incorporate XML-DSig in the same fashion as in Thus OpenDocument v1.2 will have interoperable digital signatures with KOffice 2.0.
  • The OpenDocument Format 1.0-1.1 specifications refer to 'zip' files but do not reference a standard which describes the zip file format. However, a specification (as opposed to a "standard") for the Zip format was distributed with PKZIP in the file APPNOTE.TXT and this continues to be maintained.
  • The OpenDocument Foundation, Inc. (whose role in the development of OpenDocument was more minor than the name may suggest; see Promotion), participated in developing ODF within the OASIS TC and in developing the closed‐source daVinci plug-in for Microsoft Office. The Foundation shifted its attention from supporting OpenDocument to supporting the W3C Compound Document Format (CDF). The reason stated was: “it is important to recognize that ODF does not adequately respect existing standards and does not address the market's requirements for a single Universal Document Format with which any and all applications can work on an equal basis”. Just half a month later (2007-11-11), the Foundation’s site said the foundation had been closed. The Foundation seems to have given up after Sun's release of their own ODF plug-in for Microsoft Office.

See also


External links

  • OpenDocument Fellowship Volunteer organization with members around the world to promote the adoption, use and development of the OpenDocument format.
  • OpenDocument Format Alliance 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.
  • OpenDocument The official community gathering place and information resource for the OpenDocument OASIS Standard (ISO/IEC 26300).
  • OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee coordinates the OpenDocument development and is the official source for specifications, schemas, etc.

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