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 OpenOffice.org office suite (see OpenOffice.org 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:
.odtfor word processing (text) documents
.odffor formulae, mathematical equations
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.
Further standardization work with OpenDocument includes:
On 30 April 2008, ISO/IEC DIS 29500 BRM conveyor Alex Brown posted a blog entry claiming that OpenOffice.org, 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.
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.
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.
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 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.