Sunday, March 14, 2010

Document Freedom Day - March 31st

Just thought I'd post up a quick entry about Document Freedom Day.  This is coming up on March 31st.  As indicated on the web site for the "event":
Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.

As any regular reader of this blog is aware (is there such a thing as a reader of this blog, much less a regular one?), I'm a big fan of OpenOffice.org for all of my "office" documents - text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.  Among the reasons I like OOo is the fact that it is free and that it uses the OpenDocument Format for saving files (and of course there is the "it is just plain better" reason).  Use of the ODF format helps others as they do not have to use specific software to open the files that I generate.  Theoretically, they do not even have to use an office productivity suite since the files are in an XML format (maybe not theoretical as I once had to go through the process of open the native XML file when I was helping someone troubleshoot some file corruption).

Those two factors in my opinion make a strong argument as to why governments and public administrations should switch to ODF.  There are plenty of applications available that can open an ODF file, many of them free (like OOo).  By using these documents, citizens are not forced to go out and buy any specific software application.  So, the government stays neutral with respect to vendors and the marketplace.  And, it does not seem to me that government should be forcing citizens to buy software just to be able to read/open a government document.

Unfortunately, even now, in my position I continue to get Excel spreadsheet files from HUD for the conduct of official business.  I've been tempted a few times to write back to them and inform them that "I do not have Excel - how am I supposed to use their document?"  I have a feeling they'd be at a loss as to how to answer.

Hope you'll think about this some.  And maybe make a switch to some other document format.  You may even have a chance to try out OpenOffice.org.

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