UK government departments are being urged to make Open Document Format (ODF) their default file application in order to adhere to Open Standards Principles and enable UK industry innovation.

The rallying cry comes from Open Source specialist Stuart J Mackintosh, as the globe celebrates Document Freedom Day, the international day of Open Standards, today. He stresses that by making ODF the default option for all UK government applications, all official documents will become future-proofed, application lock-ins will be removed, and any future migration to new standards and software will be transitioned seamlessly. And in order to help government departments make the switch, he has today issued an educational paper to public sector personnel, demonstrating how easy it is to make the switch to ODF, and the risks of doing nothing.Document Freedom Day 2015 ODF logo

Stuart J Mackintosh, Managing Director of OpusVL who have supported this project, and a key figure across various community Open Source and Open Standards organisations, explained: "Open Document Format frees documents and data from their applications of origin, enabling them to be exchanged, retrieved and edited with any Open Document-compliant software, database or tool. This is essential to prevent Public Sector ‘technology ghettos’ where information is not sharable, and locked in to certain software."

The UK government has an equal opportunity to provide better services more efficiently by adopting these principles and taking responsibility to train and lead people within government to ensure these best practices become the norm.

Document Freedom Day 2015 cover preview Open Standards like the ODF principle have been a high priority in the public sector since 2012, when it was announced that government bodies, departments, agencies, and non-departmental public bodies must adhere to the Open Standards Principles for software interoperability, data, and document forms in government IT specifications.

Many existing applications used by government teams already provide the facility to save files in ODF, making the adoption of ODF as a default practice relatively easy. The format is often confused with OOMXL, but is not a closed standard controlled by a single, proprietary supplier.

The message from Stuart J Mackintosh on International Document Freedom Day is clear; the switch to ODF is easy and will enable government departments to get more out of technology providers, prevent being locked in to certain software, and ensure Open Standards compliance.

OFE COIS Open Standards Principles infographicStuart added: "The risks of not defaulting to ODF could be critical to government organisations, particularly considering how easy it is to make the switch. It’s a more open and cost effective use of taxpayer’s money and will go a long way to ensuring seamless transfer of data between data stores and software throughout the Public Sector."

A high resolution version of the infographic can be found here and the 8 page "Open Document Format principles for Government Technology" document can be found here.

Posted by John Edden on 25/03/2015