New York nears decision on ODF vs OOXML

New York will become the latest state to decide on an office document mandate following the end of a review period this month.

Officials in New York are nearing decision-making time about which XML-based office document format, ODF or OOXML, that state will use across the IT systems of its agencies as the debate over a universal file format continues.

According to the state's Web site, the public comment period about whether the state should mandate a document format is scheduled to end Dec. 28. At that point officials will review all comments and decide which course of action to take.

In August, the state legislature requested that New York Chief Information Officer and Director of the Office for Technology Melodie Mayberry-Stewart gather information and input from people who would be affected about how the state should approach access, creation and maintenance of electronic documents in a way that achieves, among other things, vendor neutrality and interoperability.

A document posted to the state Web site outlines questions users should consider when debating whether ODF or OOXML would be a better fit for New York government agencies. They have until 5 p.m. EST on Dec. 28 to make their comments.

In addition to New York, other states, including Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, have eyed mandating one document file format across their IT systems.

The debate over whether ODF (Open Document Format for XML) or OOXML (Open XML) should be the universal file format for office documents apparently will remain heated in 2008 after a stormy year for those on both sides.

In September, the International Organization for Standardization rejected an attempt by Microsoft to use another standards body, Ecma International, to fast-track OOXML through the standards process. Complaints poured in that Microsoft placed people sympathetic to its cause in key voting positions toward the end of the process in an attempt to swing the vote in its favor.

The next month a group designed to promote ODF, the OpenDocument Foundation, withdrew support of ODF in favor of CDF (Compound Document Format). As 2007 closes, companies such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and Google continue to promote ODF, while Microsoft remains the most visible supporter of OOXML.

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