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| Forum Standaardisatie

Dutch government puts more weight behind open standard for office

22 oktober 2015 |

The Netherlands government is determined to speed up the adoption of ODF across government. This was one of the major announcements at the 11th ODF Plugfest in The Hague, where a group of international developers, EU policy makers, digital archivists, academics and other experts gathered around Open Document Format (ODF).

"Due to its size the public sector is a major stakeholder in a healthier future for office applications", says Steven Luitjens, director of Logius, the largest IT operational organisation within the Netherlands government. "It is our economic and social responsibility to do better. This is why we in the Netherlands are ramping up our efforts to play a meaningful part in the huge transition governments as well as the private sector are facing from vendor-driven productivity suites to better and more tailor-made open standards driven solutions."

"The need to adopt ODF is a no-brainer," says Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, chairman of the Netherlands government body responsible for selecting IT standards for government. "But adoption is taking too long. We are putting ODF at the top of our list".

The ODF plugfests are a unique ongoing Europian series of vendor-neutral events around office applications, bringing together implementers and stakeholders of the standard on neutral ground to achieve maximum interoperability. The event was organised by OpenDoc Society and hosted by Logius and Forum Standaardisatie (both part of The Netherlands Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations).

Jos van den Oever, co-chair of the ODF technical committee, welcomed the announcement. "We actively encourage participation of large users in the work of the ODF TC and in the community around it, especially governments", says Jos van den Oever, co-chair of the ODF technical committee. "If we want to advance the state of the art and mature the ecosystem, we need input and involvement from the heavy users. In return such organisations can vastly increase both their return on investment, as well as their productivity and autonomy". Van den Oever himself is proof of such increased involvement: he is a renowned software developer and a member of the UNESCO PERSIST technology task force, that was recently elected as the first government employee ever to co-leading the international development efforts of the ODF standard.

Major announcements:

The plugfest saw some major announcements both by vendors and from governments.

Technical results:

The plugfests are also a technical event where developers from different companies and open source projects work together to identify interoperability issues. Thanks to a new testing framework called the ODF Autotests, introduced at the previous plugfest held at the UK Cabinet Office in London, the technical outcome of the plugfest has been very successful.

The attendees were able to identify dozens of issues across various products that can now be fixed, including highly visible features that users depend on such as font support, margins and graphics. "During the plugfest we have identified significant interoperability improvements in almost all implementations tested," says Michiel Leenaars, vice-chair of OpenDoc Society. "The structured way of testing we've adopted at the previous ODF plugfest is really starting to pay off. That is the strenght and importance of working with open standards, some of these problems would likely never have surfaced".

Various interoperability problems were fixed on the spot by developers attending the plugfest, the first of which should be available to users later in the month. "We are very happy to see the practical approach of the plugfest is leading to quick results benefitting the users," says Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, chairman of the Netherlands government body responsible for selecting IT standards for government. "This kind of collaboration across company borders is essential to make interoperability really happen."

The importance of ODF for Office

Vendors of office applications come and go. Even market leaders with a strong monopoly have disappeared off the stage, making it difficult or sometimes even impossible to get access to the important content of billions of documents created with their software.

OpenDocument Format provides a comprehensive solution to exchange documents reliably and effortlessly across different products and devices. No longer are you restricted to a single product or vendor to fit all your needs - you have the opportunity to choose the 'best fit' everywhere.


ODF offers the best opportunity to have access to our documents, independent from the software with which they are created, now and in the distant future.

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