The UK government recently announced it is making progress in its Whitehall-wide adoption of Open Document Format (ODF), a move that has been welcomed by industry experts.
According to Open Source specialist Stuart J Mackintosh, by making ODF the default option for all government applications, official documents will become future proofed, lock-ins will be removed and any new migration to new standards and software will happen seamlessly.
Mackintosh has recently released an educational paper to public sector personnel, demonstrating how easy it could be to switch to ODF and the risks that could be incurred by doing nothing.
“ODF frees documents and data from their applications of origin, enabling them to be exchanged, retrieved and edited with any Open Document-complaint software, database or tool,” the specialist claimed.
“This is essential to prevent public sector ‘technology ghettos’ where information is not sharable and locked in a certain software.
“The UK government has an equal opportunity to provide better services more efficiently by adopting these principles and taking responsibility to train and lead people within government to ensure these best practices become the norm,” he added.
It was recently revealed that Microsoft and Google would both be adding ODF support to their existing products in order to support the government’s Open Standards agenda.
Many existing applications used by government teams already provide the facility to save files in ODF and a number of Departments have been praised by the Cabinet Office for adhering to the standards set for them.
“The risk of not defaulting to ODF could be critical to government organisations, particularly after considering how easy it is to make the switch,” claimed Mackintosh.
“It’s a more open and cost effective use of taxpayer’s money and will go a long way to ensuring seamless transfer of data between data stores and software throughout the public sector,” he added.