What are open formats ?

Criteria of choosing open document formats for public information:

(I think we should put here (or above, after the explanation what open formats are) the JPEG (www.jpeg.org) example - it's very good and successful example of open format)

According to these criteria we selected list of open file formats, recommended for use in Lithuanian public sector.

Shortly there are mainly 4 important open document formats (standards):

(put here more english text from broshure)

  1. (X)HTML - Worl Wide Web Consorcium standard

    (TODO in Tools section - to test how good HTML is created by OOo? 2.0 ? Some time ago there were some talks, that OOo? 2.0 will produce standarts (w3c) compliant HTML :)

  2. Open Document - OASIS (http://www.oasis-open.org ) standard from 2005 05 01 (big anouncement on OASIS will be on May 18) it seems there is only one really open and universal format, suitable for all kinds of office documents (texts, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, math formulas, etc.), which is supported by big and small software (and other) companies (TODO: ask in opendocument mailing list what are "National Archive of Australia" and some other initiators of OpenDocument?) has the future - it's OASIS "Open Document Format" (it's an improved OpenOffice?.org 1.0 file format):


This format is already used by at least 5 products:

see these links for more information:










If someone still doesn't know - OpenOffice?.org 2.0 candidate version is available here: http://download.openoffice.org/680/

OOo? 2.0 beta announcement in Lithuanian language: http://www.akl.lt/naujienos/#naujiena_288

User-friendly and up to date article about this format is available here:

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050130002908154 (I'm strongly suggesting to read at least this article before asking a question or sending any comments about Open Document format to this mailing list )

Open Document format is also supported by 1dok project (www.1dok.org/eng/ ) and EU. For more info about OpenDocument? format support in EU look at http://wiki.akl.lt/UsefulLinks , for example http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/3439 (Available documentation on the Promotion of Open Document Exchange Format) and http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/2592/5588 (TAC approval on conclusions and recommendations on open document formats), there are important recommendations for our project and governmental institutions (one of the recomendations is "The public sector is encouraged to provide its information through several formats.") Also I found this info "The fact that the OASIS OpenDocument? standard has made it's way into EU purchase cycle requirements is significant, but this is just the beginning." (look at http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/office/200502/msg00027.html )

So, it seems this format is the best in most cases, where simple HTML is not suitable. Only one pretty important disadvantage of this format is - almost all software, which uses this format, is still in beta stage. I think it's not so importat for us, because our project should be finished after few months, when OpenOffice?.org 2.0 and StarOffice? 8.0 stable versions will be released ;)

Some companies, for example Oracle, are planing to use "OpenDocument? as a replacement for .pdf" http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/office/200503/msg00003.html

There is an OpenDocument? format FAQ - look at http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/office/200505/msg00012.html (it seems few days permanent link for FAQ will be http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/office/faq.php )

The OpenOfficeView?, written in Java https://oooview.dev.java.net/ http://os.up.edu.ph/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownloaddetails&lid=27&ttitle=OpenOffice.org_Viewer

  1. PDF and PDF forms - proprietary but open Adobe standard

    PDF is very good for read-only documents and not so good for simple forms.

    There are several open source tools for creating PDF documents and PDF forms:

    • OpenOffice?.org ( www.openoffice.org ) - from 1.1 version can create PDF from any supported text, spreadsheet, presentation or drawing format; 2.0 version can create PDF forms
    • Scribus ( www.scribus.org.uk ), also can create PDF forms: http://ahnews.music.salford.ac.uk/scribus/documentation/cgiform/pdf_form.html (we should put it at www.akl.lt/skaitykla )
    • PDFCreator? ( www.pdfcreator.de.vu )

There are several open source tools for displaying PDF files, but it seems there are no open and free user-friendly tool for filling PDF forms, I found only one command line tool: www.accesspdf.com/pdftk/ and several java libraries - www.pdfbox.org and www.etymon.com/epub.html

The only user-friendly tool for PDF form filling is free, but proprietary Adobe Reader (previously known as Acrobat Reader). Filling PDF forms with Lithuanian/Latvian and other non iso8859-1 characters in Linux could be made only with Adobe Reader version 7.0 (and maybe higher, when they will be available)

Because there is only one proprietary tool for filling PDF forms I think it would be better not to use PDF forms for changing documents between public institutions and citizens.

  1. XForms? - Worl Wide Web Consorcium standard

I think there is better - open and not proprietary standard (and file format) for filling various forms - it's XForms? standart, which is maintained by World Wide Web consortium (W3C), look at


In its FAQ I found this info:

XForms? can do everything that HTML Forms can do, and then some. In particular XForms? lets you:

XForms? support can be installed in most popular browsers, for example Mozilla, Firefox, see http://www.mozilla.org/press/mozilla-2005-02-02.html also in MS Internet Explorer, look at http://ftp.novell.com/pub/forge/xforms-explorer/docs/home.html and http://www.formsplayer.com/download/ ) There are also various commercial and free product for XForms? design, etc for example http://www.xformation.com and http://developer.novell.com/xforms/

OpenOffice? 2.0 and StarOffice? 8.0 beta versions also could be used as XForms? designers, look at this article: http://www.understandingxml.com/archives/2005/03/xforms_editor_i.html

I've tested FireFox? 1.0+ (02-Feb-2005) with installed xforms.xpi plugin and was satisfied. I think such form filling possibility would really be suitable for Lithuanian/Latvian citizens and enterprises (eg. currently Lithuanian State Tax Inspectorate gives the possibility to fill tax forms with web browser, but this works only with M$ Internet Explorer, because is implemented with M$ .NET tools, which produces HTML and Javascript, working only with M$ IE :( ).

For more info and various xforms software look at the end of http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Forms/ and also at http://www.worldwidewiki.net/wiki/XForms

Some more articles about XForms? and Xforms software:

http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2003/09/10/xforms.html http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/02/25/09TCxforms_1.html http://www.deltaxml.com/newsletters/DXNewsletter-2004-05.html (interesting, that one lithuanian is mentioned in this newsletter: XForms? links from edma - Edmundas MiĊĦeikis, )