back to article UK government officially adopts Open Document Format

The United Kingdom government has formally adopted the open document format (ODF) as the standard format for government documents. The announcement says PDF/A or HTML are now the standard “for viewing government” while ODF is now expected “for sharing or collaborating on government documents.” There's some pointed language in …

Silver badge

Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Cant see why you cant use HTML for collaboration and ditch paper shaped shit altogether.

5
21
Gold badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Have you seen the horror Word produces when you save as HTML?

29
1
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

"...ditch paper shaped shit altogether."

But it's self-wiping!

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: paper shaped

Huh? What exactly is paper shaped about a document format? Paper can be cut into any shape

4
2
Silver badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Trevor Pott - dont use Word then FFS! It will deliberately make cock-ups of ODF so you should just ditch it anyway.

11
11
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Microsoft are by far the largest user of ODF in their products in the application market! The first thing that Office does when you start it is ask if you want to use ODF. Versus lots of competing products that can emulate (generally poorly) the Microsoft Office file formats, but have near zero or outdated support for ODF. This is win / win for Microsoft.

2
19
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

"The first thing that Office does when you start it is ask if you want to use ODF."

That's the canned MS statement of use for office.

However the reality is that they show you a box to choose the options, the text they place next to ODF is along the lines of "if you use this then you will be missing out on a ton of features that you paid money for are you really really sure you want to spoil your experience and waste your money" and then most people click for the MS format.

27
0
Silver badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

@Trevor Pott

Word used to produce horrendous text markup language (HTML). Word 2010 can produce "filtered" html which avoids most of the MS iniquities. Still far from clean, though!

Nevertheless, I wish them luck trying to exchange odf documents produced variously by MS Word, Libre Office Word, Open Office Word, and Abiword. Spreadsheets might be fun, Access databases will be inaccessible, and nobody pays attention to presentations.

The only compatible format is paper.

2
4

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

This. We need to get out of that paper mentality as it's just so restrictive, especially for content that rarely (if ever) leaves a display.

1
4

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Have you ever tried opening a simple and fully standards-compliant ODT document in Word? It ain't pretty and the resulting warning messages wouldn't inspire much confidence in the average end use.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Now, can we have governments disallow the use of Adobe products to build or enable functionality for websites?

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Microsoft are by far the largest user of ODF in their products in the application market! The first thing that Office does when you start it is ask if you want to use ODF. Versus lots of competing products that can emulate (generally poorly) the Microsoft Office file formats, but have near zero or outdated support for ODF. This is win / win for Microsoft.

Stop trolling. I had to fight those cretins for over a decade while they were IMHO screwing over the tax payer after the previous government let in consultants so I am personally very happy to see their efforts properly spiked for a change. It means some people have chosen for sense rather than golf course agreements, which is IMHO seriously impressive.

My hat off to the team - I know what sort of fight that must have been.

27
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Cant see why you cant use HTML for collaboration and ditch paper shaped shit altogether.

Sure. Now show me how you do a spreadsheet in HTML.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Nevertheless, I wish them luck trying to exchange odf documents produced variously by MS Word, Libre Office Word, Open Office Word, and Abiword. Spreadsheets might be fun, Access databases will be inaccessible, and nobody pays attention to presentations.

Any MS format prior to that MSOOXML abomination open just fine in both OpenOffice and LibreOffice, and even MS itself can't really get MSOOXML to work because it was never written to be *used*, only to spoil adoption of the Open Document Format (and I am VERY glad that that effort has now failed, making the UK compliant with the EU standard).

As for MS, try opening an early generation MS document. You can actually manage that with OOo, but NOT, ironically, with MS Office. A government has a need for long term data retention - with ODF this is stable, whereas it was actually an active strategy of MS to cause incompatibilities because it was the only way people would exchange a reasonably working application for a new one (that. and the hope that some things actually finally worked, although that technique was more used with Windows).

With paper, try duplication, maintenance, long term storage.. Not a chance.

15
0
Gold badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Have you ever tried opening a simple and fully standards-compliant ODT document in Word? It ain't pretty and the resulting warning messages wouldn't inspire much confidence in the average end use.

Opening data from a competing product and making it look bad, yeah, we have never seen that before, have we?

8
0
Anonymous Coward

This is ...really really good

news. Perhaps as Microsoft say they love standards and interoperability, they'll release ODF 1.2 plug-ins for their older Office suites just like the recent OOXML plugin for Office 2010. Actually I bet it's just their marketing lip service as usual and they will do every fucking thing they can to derail this, to keep their vendor lock-in OOXML file format. Glad Francis Maude can see through it, he and the Cabinet IT staffers are spot on with this.

9
0
WTF?

@AC - Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Wrote :- "lots of competing products that can emulate (generally poorly) the Microsoft Office file formats, but have near zero or outdated support for ODF. This is win / win for Microsoft."

You either do not have a clue what you are talking about or you have some serious typos in that statement. Microsoft would not agree that it is their win - they fought tooth and nail for their Office Open XML (OOXML) format to be adopted instead.

10
0
Gold badge

Re: Access databases will be inaccessible

Access databases will be inaccessible

Yes! Win/win!

:)

12
0
Linux

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Why would you create an ODF from M$ word? It can import M$ word normally...

Access databases are a M$ proprietary format, I think they can be export to SQL?

Spreadsheets can be imported, though Excel has some quirks that have not been replicated...

"The only compatible format is paper."

<sarcasm>Yeah, that's what my bank thinks when it sends statements</sarcasm>

P.

1
2
Silver badge

Have you seen the horror Word produces when you save as HTML?

You do know there's a switch to turn off all the inline styles, right?

And that they are there because of an insane requirement that not only should the generated HTML "look like" the original document, but that any HTML made from a word document by default be able to be reconverted back into a word document with minimal loss of styling from the original Word document?

It's right there in the help, or was last time I looked (MSO 2003). Turn off the switch and you'll get about what you'd expect plus a couple of meta tags.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

However the reality is that they show you a box to choose the options, the text they place next to ODF is along the lines of "if you use this then you will be missing out on a ton of features that you paid money for are you really really sure you want to spoil your experience and waste your money...

And you will lose functionality. The last one that caught me was a document that I wanted to be in three columns per page *except* page one which needed to be in two columns. MSWord: Easy. OOWriter: Not possible.

You might not care about that loss of functionality of course, but it is real, just as real as the cross version problems OO warns about under certain circumstances when you use heavy-on-the-functions OOCalc.

Not warning about this sort of stuff would be the Evil Thing To Do (in my opinion, as an educated user of the advanced functions of both OO and MSO).

Bravo HM Govt. for making the jump. Shame the argument they use is bankrupt (if you want the message to get out you use HTML or PDF because they are universally portable - or damn near so). Let's hope this is more than just the opening move in a license negotiation.

2
3

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

"Access databases are a M$ proprietary format, I think they can be export to SQL?"

But can SQL draw the user interface?

And most Access databases that I see are using MS SQL as a back end

"Spreadsheets can be imported, though Excel has some quirks that have not been replicated..."

Like VBA programming?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

'The only compatible format is paper.'

You've clearly never seen my handwriting.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

And you will lose functionality. The last one that caught me was a document that I wanted to be in three columns per page *except* page one which needed to be in two columns. MSWord: Easy. OOWriter: Not possible.

You have indeed highlighted a difference of the more advanced functions. In OOWriter this is handled though a page style instead of bollocksing up a page with manual formatting. It's IMHO a bit more anal and strict about such stuff, but if you do volume work you quickly start to appreciate the OOo approach and tools, which also include stuff like Navigator which is Word's document Map on steroids (although I have seen MS pick up the ideas in OOo now). From a functional comparison perspective, the only two issues that I miss from Word are the Shift-F5 cursor restore and the ability to just pick a colour without being forced to give it a name. *That* is annoying..

1
0

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

You're kidding, right?

When I try saving a document as ODF, Word 2010 pops ups a dialog warning me that my cat will die a slow, horrible death if I dare proceed.

Okay, it doesn't actually say that. What it does say is my document "may contain features that are not compatible with this format". Oh, and this for a document that contains a single word - "test" - with absolutely no formatting added to it.

Not exactly encouraging is it?

2
0

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

Are you sure about those incompatibilities in current versions of Libreoffice?

I'm noticing that you keep referring to OOo and OpenOffice writer which are known to be behind.

When did you last try? I'll have to check myself later on........

1
0
Gold badge

Re: Better but still a bit of a pigs ear

When I try saving a document as ODF, Word 2010 pops ups a dialog warning me that my cat will die a slow, horrible death if I dare proceed.

Okay, it doesn't actually say that. What it does say is my document "may contain features that are not compatible with this format". Oh, and this for a document that contains a single word - "test" - with absolutely no formatting added to it.

Not exactly encouraging is it?

Yes, they've been running that scaremongering for quite a while which, incidentally, they have also done for the use of their own older formats. Someone with a sense of humour in the OOo/LOo camp has picked this one up and you now get exactly the same warning in OOo/LOo if you decide to save in MS Office formats :)

1
0
Silver badge
Linux

Yay!

"Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant." it says on Slashdot, which pretty much sums up Microsofts future nicely.

44
5
Gold badge

Re: Yay!

I don't know. A format is just a format. Microsoft still make an office package that has some powerful evangelists. That takes time to chip away at. For Microsoft to lose they'd have to basically piss off the very people who have helped them build an empire over the past 30 years while producing products that the majority of individuals hate.

Surely Microsoft is too smart for that. Look how much their executives get paid! Obviously anyone who makes that much money is incapable of making the kinds of mistakes that could be easily predicted by a commenttard on an internet site.

Even if they were to do the above, is that enough to overcome "incentivization" of the "decision makers" in positions of power? Oracle's still around...

17
3

Re: Yay!

"For Microsoft to lose they'd have to basically piss off the very people who have helped them build an empire over the past 30 years while producing products that the majority of individuals hate."

What? Something like the Modern UI perhaps?

21
5
Gold badge

Re: Yay!

pokerface.jpg

9
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

" For Microsoft to lose... "

But this isn't about Microsoft, it's about accessibility and restriction mandated by a government requiring that only a single (foreign) manufacturer's products be used when interacting with government, a situation which is does not appear rational. The UK gov has now corrected that situation along with the other unnecessary issues resulting from reliance on a proprietary, patent-encumbered file format. Microsoft can still play if they wish, they just can't demand that we play with their ball.

Fantastic decision, one that I never thought they actually would take, given their "roll over and tickle my tummy" attitude with most technology companies.

37
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

"OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant"

Except for the fact that OOXML has many many times more active users than ODF. And that shows no sign of changing any time soon.

2
22
Silver badge

Re: Yay!

Or the Ribbon?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

Correct. And there's only one way to fix that problem, and this is a logical step in that direction.

2
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

Except for the fact that OOXML has many many times more active users than ODF. And that shows no sign of changing any time soon

As in many more "users who have no idea what format they use so leave it default" active? Honestly, do we really need to put all the Microsoft tricks on display again before you get it?

This decision is MASSIVELY significant, and I do indeed expect response or activity all the way from Redmond HQ, but I suspect David Cameron will not be so keen to ingratiate himself with Microsoft as Tony Blair tried (an incident, by the way, which was one of the earliest demonstrations that the right to forget was eminently possible as it has been carefully scrubbed from Google - try searching for it - so here's another link for good measure :) ).

You see, the problem is that if one major government makes this choice, many, many more will follow, and with them their various departments, businesses and citizens.

We are no longer talking about a single, non-English speaking city choosing to go the non-monopolistic route, and we are actually not even talking about one English speaking nation either - this UK decision harmonises it with a long standing EU directive, and thus strengthens it. This decision has the potential to cause a cascade shift in buying patterns of almost tectonic proportions.

I actually *hope* there will be some sort of Redmond campaign, and thus anticipate collaboration with Peruvian David Villanueva Nuñez so he can write another brilliant rebuttal. Unless, of course, we go for another alternative :)

10
1
Flame

Re: Yay!

"piss off the very people who have helped them build an empire"

Well, they seem to have turned the Regs resident MS evangelist from raving fanbois to lukewarm ambivalence. If MS can do that to Orlowski the jobs half done!

2
1
Gold badge

Re: Yay!

Once, not so long ago, I to was one of the loudest Microsoft evangelists. I still believe that they employ many of the best and brightest our planet has to offer and that they have some of the best tech.

But I no longer believe in the company, it's leadership, or it's direction. I don't trust Microsoft. Considering how much I once did, that should say rather a lot right there.

6
0

Re: Yay!

Fantastic decision, one that I never thought they actually would take, given their "roll over and tickle my tummy" attitude with most technology companies.

Yup, clearly they kept IDS out of the loop on this one.

0
0

Re: Yay!

this UK decision harmonises it with a long standing EU directive, and thus strengthens it.

Shh! or they'll change the policy without even waiting for a referendum.

1
0
CLD

Re: Yay!

I love the Ribbon - going back to the god awful file menu structure hurts.... it's archaic and was retired for a lot of valid reasons.

0
5
Gold badge

Re: Yay!

That's fine. You love the ribbon. I loathe it. The difference between you and me is that you seem perfectly okay with removing from me the choice to use one or the other. I don't care if you have the ribbon. Ribbon it all up. But give me the choice to disable it and re-enable my menus.

Your way isn't the only way.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

"Except for the fact that OOXML has many many times more active users ... "

Did you mean .docx and friends? Last I heard MS had not managed to produce any ISO standard OOXML compliant software.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay!

Once, not so long ago, I to was one of the loudest Microsoft evangelists.

So only the loudness remains?

/me tiptoes away :)

1
0
Gold badge

Re: Yay!

No boom today. Boom tomorrow. Always boom tomorrow.

1
0

Re: Yay!

Did I detect irony? I certainly hope so.......

0
0

Edit the sentence:

Quote:

[PDF/A or HTML are now the standard “for viewing government” while ODF is now expected “for sharing or collaborating on government documents.”]

How about the word editing in place of the touchy feel "sharing or collaborating " ?

9
1
Silver badge

Re: Edit the sentence:

It sounds like you don't want to be touchy-feely with the UK government and its various tentacles.

6
0
Gold badge
Gimp

Re: Edit the sentence:

"It sounds like you don't want to be touchy-feely with the UK government and its various tentacles."

Who would?

However if you must it's better you don't have to have access to a MS product to do so.

10
2

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017