What are open formats ?
Criteria of choosing open document formats for public information:
- Acceptance. The format must be used by more than one software provider.
- Independence. The specification of the format cannot be maintained by only one company or a closed association of companies.
- Portability. The format is guaranteed to be usable on multiple platforms.
- Implementation by free/open source software. The format must be implemented by open (free/libre) software to ensure that the format can be used and continue to be used free of charge and without restrictions.
(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)
- (X)HTML - Worl Wide Web Consorcium standard
- 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:
- OpenOffice?.org 2.x,
- KDE KOffice? 1.4,
- SUN StarOffice? 8.x,
- IBM Workplace Client
- "Outside in content viewing and transformation technology" v. 8.0
see these links for more information:
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
- 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.
- 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:
- Check data values while the user is typing them in.
- Indicate that certain fields are required, and that the form cannot be submitted without them. * Submit forms data as XML.
- Integrate with Web services, for instance by using SOAP and XML RPC.
- Submit the same form to different servers (for instance a search string to different search engines).
- Save and restore values to and from a file.
- Use the result of a submit as input to a further form.
- Get the initial data for a form from an external document.
- Calculate submitted values from other values.
- Constrain values in certain ways, such as requiring them to be in a certain range.
wizardstyle forms without needing to resort to scripting.
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
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 Mišeikis, http://22.214.171.124/whisper/space/XForms )