Feeds

UK picks Open Document Format for all government files

Minister Francis Maude wants to break 'oligopoly' of software suppliers

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The UK Government has decided that Open Document Format, the OpenOffice-derived file format, is the best choice for all government documents.

The Cabinet Office's Standards Hub explained its thinking on the matter and published the recommendation this week, using the following language:

“When dealing with citizens, information should be digital by default and therefore should be published online. Browser-based editing is the preferred option for collaborating on published government information. HTML (4.01 or higher e.g. HTML5) is therefore the default format for browser-based editable text. Other document formats specified in this proposal - ODF 1.1 (or higher e.g. ODF 1.2), plain text (TXT) or comma separated values (CSV) - should be provided in addition. ODF includes filename extensions such as .odt for text, .ods for spreadsheets and .odp for presentations.”

CSV files are preferred for “statistical or numerical information … preferably with a preview provided in HTML.”

“For information being collaborated on between departments” it is suggested that “browser-based editing is preferable but often not currently available. Therefore, information should be shared in ODF (version 1.1 or higher e.g. ODF 1.2).”

In-browser editing is preferred across the board, and “To avoid lock-in to a particular provider, it must be possible for documents being created or worked on in a cloud environment to be exported in at least one of the editable document formats proposed.”

A second recommendation on the best file format for viewing government docments suggests “PDF/A should be used as the default for non-editable documents. PDF 1.7 should be used where more rich functionality is needed.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude mentioned the release of standards proposals in a speech delivered yesterday.

That oration, published here, offers the following observations about the decision to chose ODF:

“Technical standards for document formats may not set the pulse racing – it may not sound like the first shot in a revolution. But be in no doubt: the adoption of open standards in government threatens the power of lock-in to propriety vendors yet it will give departments the power to choose what is right for them and the citizens who use their services.”

Elsewhere in the speech Maude hints strongly at a desire to spend less money on software.

“Over the past few years we’ve moved away from a small oligopoly of IT suppliers to create a more open market,” he said yesterday. “And yet the software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies.”

“I want to see a greater range of software used, so people have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular propriety [sic] brand.”

Which brand might that be, Minister? Office 365 and Google Docs both allow saving files to ODF, so in-browser editing has at least two choices for government users to consider. On the desktop, Microsoft Office can do the business, too. So can free-to-acquire productivity suites.

Maude says broader software choice “should help departments to do something as simple as sharing documents with each other more easily” and will contribute to “making government more efficient and delivering simpler, clearer, faster services”. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.