European IT authorities want better OOXML in Libre/OpenOffice
IT authorities from Germany and Switzerland have announced that they are working together, under the auspices of the Open Source Business Alliance, to improve the way that LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org display and process OOXML-formatted documents. The authorities involved include the IT groups from the cities of Munich, Jena and Freiburg im Breisgau, the Swiss canton of Waadt, the Swiss Federal Court and the Schweizer Informatikstrategie Bund (Swiss IT Federation) whose representatives met at a workshop in Zurich in October to launch the "Precise reproduction of OOXML documents in Open Source Office applications" project. Slides for the workshop provide more details of what was discussed.
OOXML is the ISO standard for office documents that is predominantly supported by Microsoft; OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice's main document format is the ISO-standardised ODF. As the current version of Microsoft's Office software generates OOXML documents by default, the authorities are seeking to improve interoperability with those documents by improving the OOXML filter in the free software office suites. They have drawn up a specification which covers formatting of frames, images, tables and lists in .docx files, the formatting of comments in .docx and .xlsx files, and the embedding of fonts in OOXML and ODF.
The Open Source Business Alliance has created a new working group – "Office Interoperability" – to manage the project, and that group will run a number of sub-groups which will each work on aspects of the requirements and develop test documents to test the implementation of the specifications. The OSB Alliance is inviting open source service providers who are willing to implement the requirements to come forward and tender for the work by 31 Jan 2012. Depending of the proposals received, financing will then be decided on; members of the OSB Alliance are committed to contributing towards the costs, though additional backers are being sought. The completed work will be licensed under the Apache License 2.0 to ensure widest possible adoption.