OpenOffice, Oasis aim to create office standard

A standards body known for creating key technologies around XML (Extensible Markup Language) said Wednesday that it has launched an effort to develop a standard file format that would allow office documents such as spreadsheets and word processing files to be opened by applications from different vendors.

The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, or OASIS, has created a technical committee that will attempt to conform data stored in office documents to a standard file format based on XML, it announced Wednesday.

One of the goals of the group, called the Open Office XML Format Technical Committee, is to free corporate data from proprietary file formats so they can be accessed for years to come no matter what office software a company is using. Proponents contend that companies are currently saving data in proprietary file formats, such as those written in Microsoft Corp.'s Word software, and locking themselves into using that software indefinitely.

"This solves a number of problems for enterprises," said Simon Phipps, chief technology evangelist at Sun Microsystems Inc., which is an initial member of the technical committee. "It means that their data becomes machine readable without having to commit to a single vendor."

Corel Corp., which makes the word processing software Word Perfect, is also an initial member of the technical committee, and said it could benefit from such a standard. Other members include content management software maker Arbortext Inc. and The Boeing Co. Boeing has a stake in office document standards as it is bound by government regulations to create and archive an immense amount of data such as manuals.

OpenOffice.org, the open source project that developed the office suite of the same name, has contributed its published list of XML-based office file formats to the group, with hopes that it will help provide the foundation for a standard. OpenOffice.org's software is sold by Sun as StarOffice.

"Conceptually what they're talking about is very important," said Tim Bajarin, president of research company Creative Strategies Inc., in Campbell, California.

Creating an open office file format suggests that documents created in an application that supports that file format could be opened in other applications that support it as well. A document written using Corel Corp.'s Word Perfect, for example, could be opened in StarOffice without affecting the layout or formatting.

"In theory, that's the visionary goal of trying to go to a single set of file structures for documents," Bajarin said. "It's possible to do it; the problem is (that) in order for it to work, you're going to have to get a lot of cross-industry cooperation.

"That's a little less certain because you're going to have to get Microsoft to sign on to this," he said.

Microsoft, which dominates the office software market with its Office suite, is a member of OASIS. Microsoft is aware of the technical committee but will not initially take part, a spokesman from a Microsoft outside public relations firm said in an e-mail message Wednesday. The company has announced recently that the next version of its Office suite, Office 11, will be heavily reliant on XML.

Microsoft already supports an XML-based technology being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, called XSD, the spokesman wrote. "What this means is that anything the OASIS group comes up with that's based on XSD 1.0 will already work with Office 11," he wrote in the e-mail message.

Sun's Phipps said that more specific industry standards need to be agreed upon in order to allow companies to ensure that they will be able to share data in new and important ways, and access it years from now.

"All the document formats out there are proprietary and undocumented," Phipps noted. "That severely limits what you can do."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Berger

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?