The OpenDocument OASIS Standard is an XML-based file format suitable for office applications. It covers the features required by text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents.
Who benefits from this work and how?
A vendor- and application-independent open document format for office applications protects content--whether it is an 800-page airplane specification or a legal contract--from being locked into an application- or vendor-specific file format. Additionally, it lets application users participate in the benefits of XML file formats without having to change their habits and without requiring additional knowledge or education.
There is a TC 45 with a similar charter existing at ECMA. Is this a competitive effort?
No. Although the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee and the ECMA TC 45 both define standardized file formats for office applications, there are differences in the charters of both groups.
The purpose of ECMA TC45 is "to produce a formal standard for office productivity applications that is fully compatible with the Office Open XML Formats, submitted by Microsoft".
The purpose of the OASIS OpenDocument Committee is to "create an open, XML-based file format specification for office applications." This means, the file format is not specialized for a certain application, but it provides a formal standard for arbitrary office applications. This includes Microsoft Office, but is not limited to it.
How large is the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee?
Isn't OpenDocument only the file format of the OpenOffice.org application that has been standardized?
OpenDocument has been developed as an application-independent format by a vendor-neutral OASIS Technical Committee with the participation of multiple office application vendors. The basis for the OASIS OpenDocument TC's work indeed was the OpenOffice.org XML file format, but even the OpenOffice.org XML file format was developed as an application-independent file format that is not usable by the OpenOffice.org application only.
The OpenOffice.org XML specification went through a one-year review phase within OASIS. This review resulted in more than 100 changes to the schema, and additional specification and editorial work. After its approval by the Committee members, OpenDocument also went through a one-month public review phase, and a final approval process by the full OASIS membership, which represents over 600 organizations.
Did the OASIS OpenDocument TC take the requirements of Microsoft Office users into account?
Absolutely. Several companies that are members in the OASIS OpenDocument TC are very much committed to delivering office products that are highly interoperable with Microsoft Office, especially on the file format level. Some of these companies deliver products that have included MS office document filters for more than a decade. The membership of these companies in the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee actually ensures that the requirements of MS Office users are considered within OpenDocument.
Is OpenDocument backward compatible with Microsoft Office binary documents?
No. Backward compatibility with binary documents is technical impossible for an XML file format. However, applications may support legacy binary format as well as OpenDocument, and in this way may provide backward compatibility with binary formats for office application users.
Does OpenDocument support "custom schemas"?
There are several usages of the term "custom schema". The term "custom schema support" frequently is used to describe the possibility to interleave an office application schema with XML tags from some other schema. Because this is a feature of XML and XML Namespaces in general, this is supported by OpenDocument. But it is important to distinguish between the OpenDocument format and applications that implement it. No applications at this point exploit this feature, but this is inherently supported by the OpenDocument OASIS Standard.
Another definition of "custom schema" support is the possibility to include an instance of a non-office-schema into an office document. This feature is provided by OpenDocument, due to its partial inclusion of the W3C XForms Recommendation.
Was performance listed as a requirement for the OpenDocument OASIS Standard?
Although performance is not explicitly listed as a requirement in the OASIS OpenDocument TC charter, the ability to provide performance implementations of a file format seems to be self-evident for an open standard.
In comformant applications, there are no performance issues known that have their root cause in the OpenDocument OASIS Standard. If any such issues would be brought to the attention of the TC, the Committee members would work on a resolution.
Has OpenDocument been tested?
OpenDocument has been well tested. The OASIS Standard is already implemented by several office applications, and some of these applications use it as native file format. Furthermore, OpenDocument is based on the OpenOffice.org XML file format, which has been the default file format of the OpenOffice.org application since 2001. This includes the word processor, the spreadsheet, and the presentation applications of OpenOffice.org.
Who owns OpenDocument?
The OpenDocument format is owned by OASIS, a non-profit consortium dedicated to the open development of public XML standards. The standard is maintained by the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee, which is made up of XML, document management, and office application experts.
Is the OpenDocument effort still open?
Yes. The OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee will extend OpenDocument 1.0 to encompass additional areas of applications or users, and also will adapt the specification to recent developments in office applications. The team has also formed the OASIS OpenDocument Accessibility Subcommittee , which gathers feedback from the disability community and from developers and users of accessible applications that implement OpenDocument. All those interested in participating in the further development of OpenDocument through the Technical Committee and/or Subcommittee are encouraged to join this effort. Non-OASIS members are welcome to join the consortium at any time.
What is the current state of OpenDocument?
OpenDocument version 1.0 is an approved OASIS Standard. This represents the highest level of ratification within the consortium.
OASIS has submitted the OpenDocument Format to the ISO/IEC JTC1 (International Organization for Standardization International Electrotechnical Commission's Joint Technical Committee) for further approval as a de jure standard.
Where did OpenDocument originate?
OpenDocument has its roots in the OpenOffice.org XML file format. In December 2003, Arbortext, Boeing, Corel, CSW Informatics, Drake Certivo, National Archive of Australia, New York State Office of the Attorney General, Society of Biblical Literature, Sony, Stellent and Sun Microsystems founded the OASIS Open Office XML Format Technical Committee to develop a standardized XML-based file format for office applications. The basis for the TC's work was the OpenOffice.org XML file format that had proven its value in real life. The first OpenDocument Committee Draft was approved in March 2003; a second was approved in December 2004. In January 2005, the group was renamed the "OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Technical Committee" to emphasize that the resulting specification is not only suitable for OpenOffice.org, but for arbitrary office applications. A third Committee Draft was approved in March 2005. OpenDocument was approved as an OASIS Standard in May 2005.
How much will it cost to use OpenDocument?
OpenDocument is royalty-free. It can be used without charge by anyone.
Where do I find the OpenDocument specification and schemas?
The OpenDocument v1.0 specification is available in PDF format at
and in OpenOffice.org XML format at
The OpenDocument v1.0 Relax-NG schemas are available here:
OpenDocument v1.0 Relax-NG Schema (extracted from chapter 1 to 16 of the specification):
OpenDocument v1.0 Manifest Relax-NG Schema (extracted from chapter 17 of the specification):
OpenDocument v1.0 Strict Relax-NG Schema (extracted from appendix A of the specification):
How does this work compare to existing standards at other standards organizations?
There are some standards that cover single features of office applications, like SVG for graphic content or HTML and XSL-FO for text content, but none of these standards covers all features of office applications. The OpenDocument OASIS Standard covers the features required by text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents, but also 'borrow' from similar, existing standards wherever possible and permitted.
How does this work compare to other office applications schemas?
OpenDocument was developed in a completely open, publicly visible, vendor-neutral, royalty-free standards process that allows input from the entire user community
OpenDocument is one schema for text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents. There are no distinct schemas for the different kind of office applications.
OpenDocument is highly interoperable by making use of existing standards like HTML , SVG , XSL , SMIL , XLink , XForms , MathML or Dublin Core wherever possible.
OpenDocument has a package concept and can be used as default file format for office applications without disadvantages in file size or integrity.
What kind of applications are covered by the specification?
The OpenDocument Format v1.0 is suitable for text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents. Later versions of the specification will encompass additional areas of applications and users.
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