The OpenDocument Format OASIS standard that enables users of varying office suites to exchange documents freely with one another has just been approved for release as an ISO and IEC International Standard.

OpenDocument, submitted by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), was balloted as an International Standard in ISO/IEC's Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology. The standard has been given the designation, ISO/IEC 26300.

Most of today’s electronic office documents have been created by a few commercial software programmes and more often than not each one has its own format. In order to process a document, users need the same programme (and corresponding versions) or a filter that allows the document to be opened and modified. OpenDocument Format does away with this need.

Organizations and individuals that store their data in the open format avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out-of-business, raises its prices, changes its software, or alters its licensing terms.

Billions of existing office documents will be able to be converted to the XML standard format with no loss of data, formatting, properties, or capabilities. This will facilitate document contents access, search, use, integration and development in new and innovative ways.

"ISO/IEC 26300 is a shining example of what partnership in standardization can achieve for the business community. Its publication underscores the importance of partnership among ISO and IEC and standards developing organizations such as OASIS to craft a common set of standards, and reflects the international community's recognition of the importance of open formats in enabling business interoperability," said Alan Bryden, ISO Secretary-General.

“ISO/IEC JTC 1's approval of OpenDocument as an International Standard is a major step forward in advancing the adoption of a format that gives all of us the flexibility to select the office application – commercial or open source – that best meets our needs,” noted Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of OASIS. “We are particularly gratified by the broad range of national ballots cast in favour of the standard. This action underscores the international support for the OASIS open standards process that produced OpenDocument and delivers an assurance of long-term viability that is particularly important to governments.”

ISO/IEC 26300 is the responsibility of ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, subcommittee SC 34, Document description and processing languages. The standard will continue to be maintained and advanced by the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee and the recently formed OASIS ODF Adoption Committee, both of which remain open to participation from users, suppliers, government agencies, and individuals.

Additional information:

OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee:

OASIS ODF Adoption Technical Committee:

OASIS is the not-for-profit, global consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of e-business standards. Members themselves set the OASIS technical agenda, using a lightweight, open process expressly designed to promote industry consensus and unite disparate efforts. OASIS produces worldwide standards for Web services, security, conformance, business transactions, and interoperability within and between marketplaces. Founded in 1993, OASIS has more than 5 000 participants representing over 600 organizations and individual members in 100 countries.