by Kaj Kandler

Californian Democrat Mark Leno introduced a bill that requires the Californian government be equipped to store and exchange documents in an open, XML-based format. This legislation would stipulate this requirement starting 2008.

Massachusetts was the first state that recognized how important it is to store and archive office documents in a format that can be guaranteed to be readable in 30 or 50 years from now. Software that reads proprietary document types can vanish with the company that produces it and the support from rivals to support this format will vanish shortly thereafter. This can leave you with a heap of bits, perfectly preserved on tape or other storage media which is not reproducible for the human eye. And after all that is the purpose of all document archiving. There response was to include a similar mandate in the id term IT plan, requiring storage and archiving of documents in ODF or PDF.

We will see how this proposed bill will work out and what it’s effects are. Currently only ODF, also known as ISO 26300, does fulfill the requirements as storage format. And is the most widely distributed program with comprehensive support for ODF. While there exist import filters MS Office they are currently limited to text documents (MS Word) and do not include spreadsheets or presentations.

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