An ODF Thanks

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With the 23-0 vote in the ISO this last week to get the OpenDocument Format to the status of being an international standard (but for some final procedures and paperwork), I want to thank a lot of the people involved. Now this really has been a community effort, so my thanks is really just my statement of strong appreciation and “Hurray!” to everyone who has worked so hard for the last few years to get us to this point.

I am not a skeptic: I am not one who looks at a really great event and then says “but maybe it won’t be significant.” I say here that this approval is an important milestone and momentum builder on the way to broad ODF acceptance. But more than that, and I really want to emphasize this, ODF is an example of a much bigger change that is taking place in the industry. It’s interesting that those who are saying that the ECMA effort is “open” (little “o” intentional) are often comparing it to standards efforts that started ten or more years ago. It’s 2006, people. We have higher expectations now. That’s progress. Get with the program.

Anyway, back to the thanks. I’m sure I’ll get some comments that will help me make this more comprehensive, but I would like to call out the following groups of people:

  • To the folks in Hamburg who worked on the Star product for so long that eventually morphed into OpenOffice. Your work on the underlying data format led to the early draft of what eventually became ODF.
  • To Sun Microsystems for giving up control of the format and allowing it to evolve in a real community way in OASIS under an open process. (Incidentally, I do mention and thank these first two groups when I give talks, but not every time and not in the same way.)
  • To everyone who has worked in the OASIS technical committee since it was announced in November, 2002.
  • To the people who shepherded the ODF submission to the ISO through the process and will continue to do so until the final paperwork is finished.
  • To the people in all the national standards bodies who considered the ISO submission and a special thank you to those of you who voted yes.
  • To everyone (150+) who has joined the ODF Alliance for recognizing that ODF is going to be a major part of IT for the public sector. We’ll continue to need your support and we also want your friends and associates to participate (join here). I would also like to thank those of you who have been leaders within the ODF Alliance who got that organization off the ground and working so well.
  • To everyone else who has contributed up to this point in all the other ways through conversations, foundations, fellowships, blogs, wikis, press interviews, teleconferences, and so on. This is a distributed and surprisingly well coordinated movement to get us to a better place. It’s working.
  • Finally, to those of you who are working now on future versions of ODF and in subareas such as accessibility and spreadsheet format standardization. You see, we’re not just planning to meet some minimum level of functionality, we’re trying to create something which extends the state of the art but only in ways that are truly useful. So forget all the bells and whistles that help sell upgrades, give us a well designed standard on which we all can innovate. We’re well along that pathway right now with v1.0 and the ISO spec.

I’ve spent an awful lot of “ink” on ODF in the last year and I’ll continue to talk about it, but I think you’ll see an expansion of topics in the next few weeks here in this blog. The story is big now and it is global, so I encourage you to keep track of it via techniques like Google Alerts.

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