European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe's public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).
OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called FixMyDocuments.eu, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).
The announcement coincides with the beginning of another initiative, Global Legislative Openness Week, which will involve global activities annd "events hosted by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and members of the parliamentary openness community." A full calendar of events is here.
The software developers working on Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice - two closely related suites of open source office productivity tools - should overcome their schism and unite to compete with the ubiquitous proprietary alternative, urges Daniel Brunner, head of the IT department of Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court. Merging the two projects will convince more public administrations to use the open source office suite, he believes.
The Document Foundation's tender for the development of an Android implementation of LibreOffice begs serious questions, namely: Can an influx of cash into open source code creation succeed, and how do pay-for-code plays from nonprofit foundations affect the ethics and work ethic of today's open source community?
For those who haven't heard, the German nonprofit behind the successful open source LibreOffice productivity suite issued a tender document last week at the LibreOffice Conference seeking a bid for the one-off task of extending the LibreOffice document viewer prototype into a basic document editor on Android. It covers all the core program modules: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, and Math.
Many individuals have been using ODF for years, but the open format is also being adopted by organisations, including companies and governments.
We often wish to share electronic documents with friends, colleagues, business or government, and the software application we use to prepare these documents will save them in a particular format.
Any application that later loads the document will also need to be able to understand this format. If an organisation can control the format, and convince people to use it, then they can use this as a very powerful tool to create a monopoly in the market.
For now, there are only a few Office suite available for the Android platform (WPS Office, Office Suite Pro, Google Docs and AndrOpen), but only AndrOpen has support for odt and ods files, and it has an ugly interface, making the software unusable.
The LibreOffice developers have released a new daily build version, allowing the users to test the app.
The new mayor of Munich is a self-proclaimed Microsoft fan and he wants to waste all the money that was invested in moving away from Microsoft’s vendor lock and incompatible technologies. His deputy is also a Microsoft fans so it’s not surprising that the new office of the mayor wants to bring back Microsoft technologies.
But that will be a very dangerous move for Munich.
Josef Schmid, teh deputy, points out two issues with LiMux – one is incompatibility with Microsoft technologies and other was increased support calls.
Incompatibility with Microsoft products is a huge problem and it’s a problem for everyone who is using Microsoft technologies. Linux or Open Source are not the cause of the problem as Schmid says, they are victims.
Then what is the cause?
In a recent interview one of the directors of The Document Foundation disclosed how Microsoft users various tricks to break compatibility and that leads to people like Schmid to blame open source technologies without fully understanding where the problem lies.