ODF Gets A Refresh

Open Document Format version 1.1 approved as OASIS standard.

Last month the OASIS consortium approved OpenDocument Format version 1.1 (ODF 1.1) as an OASIS standard. The open standards-based file format is employed by the OpenOffice open source suite, as well as commercial products such as Sun StarOffice.

Step in the Right Direction
ODF 1.1 adds accessibility features for users with impaired vision or cognitive functions, enabling reliable text-to-speech transformation and supporting alternative text for hyperlinks and other elements on the page. It also provides for consistent keyboard-based navigation of presentation files. The addition of accessibility functions addresses a key missing capability in the ODF spec, when compared to that of Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) and native file formats.

Curtis Chong, president of the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science, applauds the spec, but says the real work is just getting underway.

"ODF is definitely a step in the right direction. And again, we think it's great that the process in developing that specification was open. We just want to see software we can use to work with documents natively coded in that format," Chong says.

On the Fast Track
The newly minted spec arrives as Microsoft continues to work its OOXML file format for ratification with the InternationalOrganization of Standards (ISO), the same organization that ratified ODF as a standard in May 2006.

Microsoft's application, tendered by standards-making body Ecma International, is being considered for "fast track" treatment to expedite the process. At press time, no decision had been made.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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