OASIS forms interoperability panel

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information
Standards (OASIS) has formed a new committee to
foster interoperability and conformance with the OpenDocument
Format (ODF) standard.

ODF, or ISO/IEC 26300:2006, is one of two international
standards covering open XML document formats used in office
productivity suites. The other is ISO/IEC 29500, which is based on
the Office Open XML document formats used in Microsoft Office

ODF is used in office productivity suites from Sun Microsystems,
IBM and others.

The new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance (OIC)
Committee consists of representatives from industry, government and
other institutions. The OIC Committee members will be working to
"deliver true data interoperability for office applications,"
according to an OASIS-issued statement.

More specifically, the committee aims to draw up guidelines that
will help implementers write applications that conform to the ODF
OASIS Standard.

The OIC Committee includes members from IBM, Oracle, Sun
Microsystems, Google, Novell, Red Hat, the U.S. Department of
Defense, Belgian FEDICT, the South Africa Dept. of Science and
Technology and others.

Microsoft was not listed as an OIC Committee member in OASIS'
press release. However, the company announced in May that it had joined OASIS' ODF
efforts and planned to support ODF with the release of Microsoft
Office 2007 Service Pack 2.

Microsoft is a Foundational Sponsor of OASIS and is welcome to
participate in the OIC Committee, according to an e-mail from

"OASIS has more than 60 Committees, and members are free to
participate in whichever Committees they choose; companies may join
a Committee at any time," said Carol Geyer, director of
communications for OASIS. "We fully expect the OIC roster of
participants to grow as the Committee gets underway."

Enterprises, governments and institutions see a need for the use
of open standards, especially as proprietary document formats get
abandoned. Interoperability also remains a key issue.

Alex Brown, a convener of the Office Open XML standardization
process, illustrated the interoperability problem in arecent blog. He described how a simple table with cells of
varying colors -- all conforming to the ODF standard -- showed
significantly different renderings in OpenOffice 2.4, Word 2007 and
Google Docs.

Brown described it as "a minor failure of interoperability," but
noted that such a failure could have significant effect on cells
containing important information, such as in medical or financial

About the Author

Herb Torrens is a freelance writer based in Southern California.

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