Promote Freedom: Use ISO-approved OASIS OpenDocument Format

Tuesday, 2006-December-12 at 21:54

I noted in a recent article that employment recruiters frequently ask for Word .doc format versions of resumes for openings that deal with Linux, BSD, Solaris, AIX, and so on.  In some cases, it is probably because they have an automated recruitment database that is designed to extract relevant information from .doc files.  However, it is very likely to give poor results.

The person doing the recruiting gets paid to deliver some live bodies who matched a particular set of keywords.  He or she is not getting paid for the long-term productivity or lack thereof that comes with hiring the candidates.  In fact, he does not have the time for the kind of detailed examination that would be required for that.  Thus, if someone says he used software Y for three years at Brand X International Corp., he gets through.

But honestly, we all know that we should not be sending attachments to begin with. In a business environment, it seems that every time there is an announcement–the office will close early on Friday, because of the annual party–it gets sent out as an attached document.  Usually, it is not the format that matters, but the content.  The content is generally text, which can be copied and pasted into your favorite e-mail client to send as a plain text message.  So when you feel tempted to send an attachment, ask yourself whether you are sending the content or the format. If it is the content that matters, send plain text without an attachment.

If format matters, then you should send your document in the ISO-approved international standard formats for office documents: OpenDocument Format.  You can use any of several office suites to handle these file formats, including upcoming versions of WordPerfect.   If your office suite does not read or write ODF, replace it.  Seriously.  You already know that you’ll have to use ODF for any dealings with some government agencies in Europe and possibly also in the United States. Since ODF is an open standard, anyone can implement it.

As an open standard, anyone can implement it.  The OASIS organization, which developed ODF, includes Corel/WordPerfect, Sun Microsystems, and Microsoft among its members.  Each played a part in its design.  It was designed to encourage interoperability—different products can work together seamlessly—instead of forcing people into any particular product.  Also, with the advent of restrictive laws such as the DMCA, you can lose access to your own data, if it is stored in a proprietary format and the vendor decides not to support that format any longer.  Open standards like ODF help you regain control of your own data.

In your personal life, some people frequently send attachments, some people do not.  Generally, on the rare occasion that I do send an attachment, it is an image file (JPEG, PNG, SVG, GIF, TIFF), a PDF file, or an ODF file.  Those who send me attachments tend to send images or media files (quicktime, windows media player, real, flash), and very rarely send documents.  But for those who know me, if you were thinking about sending a document, you’ll need to send ODF or PDF.  Anything else I delete without reading.

In fact, let’s make this my announcement.  If you send me a document, send ODF or PDF only.  If the content is the important part, just paste it into the message. If the appearance is the important part, then use ODF or PDF.  Fortunately, you can download a free, zero-price office suite, OpenOffice.org.  That office suite can read and write ODF and it can export PDF.  Can yours?

If I were opening a small business right now, I would be sure to get ODF-compliant software to be my company office suite.  It also happens that OpenOffice.org also supports the current .doc and .xls formats almost as well as MS Office 2003 does, and the older .doc and .xls formats even better than MS Office 2003 does.  When I got my Master's Degree, I had MS Office XP(2002) on one computer.  So when I wasn't on that computer, I used OOo for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.  No one in my group projects knew the difference.

Entry filed under: Computers, ODF, Software, XML. Tags: .

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