Open Document Formats

Source: Open by Design - Advantages of the OpenDocument Format (ODF)

In a world where paper documents are increasingly replaced by electronic records, ensuring that long term access and usability of these records is critical. This is especially the case for legal contracts and government documents, which stay valid and relevant over decades, or even centuries. But it is no less the case for personal documents.

Just as paper and pens have been available from multiple vendors, and not just one single source, document file formats and the applications creating these file formats need to be supported by and available from multiple vendors. This guarantees long-term access to data even if companies cease to operate, change their strategies, or dramatically raise their prices. In effect, with choice the user retains control over and ownership of the documents she authors; she is no longer dependent on a single vendor to read and edit her work.

Open standards that are equally accessible and do not favor one particular vendor can help maintain a diverse ecosystem of vendors. This also fosters competitive pricing, thus creating the conditions for the best use of money from investors to tax payers...

In the case of public documents that governments provide to their nation's residents, it is also important that no resident be excluded from data access. For example, nobody should be forced to buy software from one particular vendor or for one particular operating system platform. Public data should be accessible to residents independent of their income and their physical abilities.

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