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Norway Mandates Government Use of ODF and PDF

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the playing-nice-with-everyone dept.

Government 187

siDDis writes "Earlier this year Slashdot mentioned that Norway was moving towards mandatory use of ODF and PDF. Now it's official: the Norwegian government has mandated the use of open document formats from January 1st, 2009. There are three formats that have been mandated for all documentation between authorities, users and partners. HTML for all public information on the Web, PDF for all documents where layout needs to be preserved and ODF for all documents that the recipient is supposed to be able to edit. Documents may also be published in other formats, but they must always be available in either ODF or PDF."

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187 comments

well duh (5, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787740)

When you really think about it, how stupid would it be if a large government agency even in the US sent out a "document meant for editing" in a microsoft office format. I mean seriously. If the IRS sent me a tax form as a .doc file I would call them up and tell em what I thought of that but probably wouldn't get through cuz it'd already be flooded with pissed off people. I mean, that's like requiring all US citizens to own a copy of Office. Same with Norway. Any country that doesn't choose a non-propietary format is crazy.

Re:well duh (3, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788106)

That would be like the Australian Tax Office requiring IE for some business reporting. The standard response is that you can do it or be fined. At least they've fixed the need for specific versions of the JVM.

This was a few years back, but maybe they've changed. Then again, it's the tax office.

Re:well duh (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788178)

hey, that's way different. It comes free with Windows. Office doesn't.

Re:well duh (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788196)

It comes free with Windows.

Windows doesn't come free with a computer. Or maybe the first hit does - can't remember anymore

Re:well duh (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788224)

Businesses that have standardized on Apple must love you. (They are out there. I've had to support them. They get to buy a machine with Windows for things like this.)

Re:well duh (1, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788352)

anyone who uses a mac shouldn't freak out when suddenly something doesn't work on it. They should be used to that after about a day of using it. Same with someone who only runs Linux. You should expect some incompatibility.

Re:well duh (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788402)

When that something is 'Submit this data or face large fines, You can only use the listed versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer to do this." they will deal with it by buying a machine with Windows installed. I can't remember what the issue was, but it was IE only, including the use of ActiveX controls.

Re:well duh (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788640)

Yeah, but it's especially rankling, when

a) they're requiring a browser that, while usable, is the worst of the mainstream browsers.
b) it only runs on one operating system
c) it wouldn't be all that difficult to write cross platform web pages. Yeah, it takes a bit more work to make it run on all browsers, but 99% of the time, if the page works of Firefox, it works on Opera and Webkit. Then you have to see what CSS IE choked on and tweak that. Hell, if they can make Google maps work on all these browsers, they certainly can make a stupid tax site use it. (especially given all the money they waste in government)

Re:well duh (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788858)

I have to work with this website [nanoned.nl] on a regular basis. They have a database, made with some weird MS database program, where you can theoretically upload manuscripts. It's so bad it even doesn't work well in IE, and the webmaster tells you to download an ActiveX add-on for Firefox to be able to use the website! I'm a member of many forums and I never had problems uploading stuff to any of them. I've never come across anything as crappy as the NanoNed website. Utterly unbelievable.

Re:well duh (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788820)

That was true a few years ago but now there are so many open formats out there it really shouldn't matter anymore what platform you use. The only thing that keeps people on Windows is Office. Luckily that is changing fast now.

Re:well duh (0, Redundant)

TW Atwater (1145245) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789646)

Ain't that the truth? Just yesterday a friend sent me a screensaver of Britney's Pussy and I couldn't get it to run on my Linux computer.

Re:well duh (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788624)

There's always the X11 version of OpenOffice.org for the Mac. To the Mac purists that is clearly suboptimal, but it works better than trying to use the current version of MS Office for the Mac with Microsoft's new MS Office formats. Of course, an updated version of MS Office for the Mac should be out soon, but then again the Aqua version of OpenOffice.org should be out eventually as well.

The fact of the matter is that if you are using Macs you will likely have compatibility issues every once in a while. For the last year or so, however, it is very hard to argue that OpenOffice.org's ODF format wasn't a better option for Mac users than Microsoft's XML format. It's also likely to be a better option in the long term. Microsoft could very well decide in the near future that it no longer wants to support MS Office on the Mac. At least with Free Software Mac users get the source code.

Re:well duh (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789288)

I didn't try it, but there is neoOffice at:

http://www.neooffice.org/ [neooffice.org]

Re:well duh (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788658)

put Windows in a feak'n sandbox/VM where it really belongs and run any 'special needs' applications there instead of giving some Microsoft OEM the profits of tying Windows to the hardware. And anybody who purchases a whole computer to run Windows is of of his/her mind and wasting the companies money. IMO.

LoB

Re:well duh (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788684)

Yes, but to run Windows in a VM you need a copy of Windows. If you buy a machine on which to run Windows, Microsoft only gets the relatively small amount they charge the OEMs. If you buy a copy of Windows retail to run in your VM, Microsoft makes more. So if your goal is to minimize the amount you give to Microsoft, buying a separate Windows machine is actually the better choice, isn't it?

Re:well duh (1)

ShinmaWa (449201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788996)

put Windows in a feak'n sandbox/VM
But that STILL means that the Australian government is mandating that all businesses MUST purchase a Microsoft product under the threat of being fined if they don't.

Re:well duh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789530)

Malaysia is the same. We are required to file online, which is progressive and saves a lot of hassle, but we need IE running on Windows. https://e.hasil.org.my/SCRS-LHDN/default.asp [hasil.org.my] says "Please use Internet Explorer 5.0 and above".
Reminds me of the old joke and I'm tempted to write "Yes. So I do. Firefox 2.0.0.11 is above IE5".

Posted AC for obvious reasons. It's our tax office.

Re:well duh (1, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788254)

Couldn't they just argue that since Open Office will open/edit/save as a Word document that your argument is invalid?

Re:well duh (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788314)

They could do this until someone used an unsupported MS Office feature. You'd either need to cripple MS Office or treat Open Office as a poor cousin.

Alternatively, you can get a plugin to open/save ODF from MS Office.

Re:well duh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789022)

Tried to open a .docx file in OpenOffice lately?

Garbagestan (1, Funny)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787752)

Hmmm... This may be a problem because my country of Garbagestan (which I have just formed by taking control of all the homes on my street) has made HTML, PDF, and ODF illegal under pain of a forced upgrade to Vista.

Re:Garbagestan (0, Troll)

jmauro (32523) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787832)

Does Garbagestan have normalized relations with Petoria yet?

Re:Garbagestan (0, Troll)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787972)

Actually, Garbagestan completely surrounds Petoria. Normalized relations don't make for good ratings on the news, so none exist. We are, instead, working on a Garbagestan/Petoria Peace Plan which involves a Roadmap to Peace. This roadmap goes nowhere and states that when all the residents of Petoria, go off and drown themselves in the sea (and somehow they have to do this without traversing through Garbagestan), we will be at peace.

They refuse to drown themselves in the sea. We refuse to budge from our demands for total annihilation of Petoria. And somehow, we manage to make it look as if Peter is the aggressor and we're just poor Garbagestanians trying to survive his terrible oppression. News ratings are through the roof! Heh heh. Nobody pays attention to the fact that we surround him! Bwaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaahaaa aaahaaaaahaaaah aahaahahhahaha hahahahahah ahahahahah ahahaha!

Re:Garbagestan (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788070)

And somehow, we manage to make it look as if Peter is the aggressor
Who is Peter?

Re:Garbagestan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788276)

Peter is the President of Petoria [wikia.com] .

Re:Garbagestan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788582)

No, but they have fantastic relations with Peterland.

Re:Garbagestan (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787854)

Why would you do that? (make those formats illegal, not take over you city block)

Re:Garbagestan (1)

udippel (562132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789546)

He, I found this 'funny'. But my mod points are spent.
No, not as AC, because I'm not a coward, I mean it !

You know (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21787754)

I think Norway would be better off using proprietary formats.

Geez (2, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787760)

Not to karma whore or anything... but the least you think an editor would do is provide the bokmal translation. This proves it... Slashdot hates Norwegian people. Again, not to karma whore:

" enhver burde ha likeverdig adgang å offentligheten beskjed : Åpen standarder bli tvangsmessig innen regjeringen. " regjeringen har bestemte det alle beskjed opp på regjeringen websites burde være anvendelig i fri luft formatter HTML PDF eller ODF. Med dette bestemmelse tidene når offentligheten dokumenter der hvor bare anvendelig inne Microsoft's Ord - formatter kommer å slutt. 'Everybody burde ha likeverdig adgang å offentligheten beskjed. Fra 2009 det borger ville være i stand til valgte hvilke programvare å bruk for at få innpass å offentligheten beskjed. Det regjeringen bestemmelse ville likeledes gjøre bedre konkurransen imellom leverandør av kontor søknadene sier DEN - minister Heidi Praktfull Røys. " denne er avgjørelsen av regjeringen : HTML burde være det primære formatter for forlagsartikkel av offentligheten beskjed på Sykehuslege. PDF (1.4 eller nyere , eller PDF / EN ISO 19005-1) er tvangsmessig når du ønske å gjemme originalen layout av en dokumentet. ODF ISO IEC 26300) må av sted anvendt når utgiveren dokumenter det er mente å bli forandret etter dataoverfører eg. blankett det er å bli fylte inne av brukeren. "- Norge Ministerium av Regjeringen Administrasjon og Forbedring "

*Translated by hand.

unnecessary (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787870)

Basically everyone under 40 in Scandinavia speaks good english. Better english than many Americans, in fact.

Re:unnecessary (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787916)

But do they have senses of humor and can understand when their culture is actually the point of the post, but instead just a detail in a parody of a very common practice on slashdot.

I think so. Gotta a friend from Stavanger. He's an ok guy and pretty sharp, apparently sharper and a little more lighthearted than /. mods.

Re:unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789592)

I think so. Gotta a friend from Stavanger. He's an ok guy and pretty sharp, apparently sharper and a little more lighthearted than /. mods.

I know that guy. If he was any sharper, he'd cut himself.

what i meant to say (I know use preview) (2, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787926)

But do they have senses of humor and are they able to understand when their culture isn't actually the point of the post, but instead just a detail in a parody of a very common practice on slashdot. I think so. Gotta a friend from Stavanger. He's an ok guy and pretty sharp, apparently sharper and a little more lighthearted than /. mods.

Spot on about speaking better english than Americans though. My first reply is proof positive.

Svengelska (3, Funny)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789414)

Scandinavians are so selfsure about the quality of their english that they'll insist that your rightings aren't valid, as you merely speak american. I've been living in Sweden in some years and feel again the most common swinglishsigns. I job now as an oversitter from swedish to english, in addition to controlling english texts, and it has been a good affair.

Re:Geez (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21787950)

Joke or no, but "Translated by hand"?

By someone who doesn't know Norwegian, or?

That's a machine translation. The words are unusual (to say the least) and the grammar is wrong.. e.g. "åpen standarder" should read "åpne standarder". "har bestemte det" should read "har bestemt at", etc.

Re:Geez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788024)

That was a really good "translation". Did you use Google Translate or Bablefish ??

I'm not sure the name "Heidi Grande Røys" does translate to Heidi Praktfull Røys (in English that is Heidi Gorgeous Røys). It gets even funnier when you consider that "Røy" can be used as a slang for "woman". Heidi Georgeous Woman...

"Translated by hand", yeah right :-)

Re:Geez (4, Funny)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788118)

" enhver burde ha likeverdig adgang å offentligheten beskjed : Åpen standarder bli tvangsmessig innen regjeringen. " regjeringen har bestemte det alle beskjed opp på regjeringen websites burde være anvendelig i fri luft formatter HTML PDF eller ODF. Med dette bestemmelse tidene når offentligheten dokumenter der hvor bare anvendelig inne Microsoft's Ord - formatter kommer å slutt. 'Everybody burde ha likeverdig adgang å offentligheten beskjed. Fra 2009 det borger ville være i stand til valgte hvilke programvare å bruk for at få innpass å offentligheten beskjed. Det regjeringen bestemmelse ville likeledes gjøre bedre konkurransen imellom leverandør av kontor søknadene sier DEN - minister Heidi Praktfull Røys. " denne er avgjørelsen av regjeringen : HTML burde være det primære formatter for forlagsartikkel av offentligheten beskjed på Sykehuslege. PDF (1.4 eller nyere , eller PDF / EN ISO 19005-1) er tvangsmessig når du ønske å gjemme originalen layout av en dokumentet. ODF ISO IEC 26300) må av sted anvendt når utgiveren dokumenter det er mente å bli forandret etter dataoverfører eg. blankett det er å bli fylte inne av brukeren. "- Norge Ministerium av Regjeringen Administrasjon og Forbedring "
What!? How dare you! My mother is a saint!

Re:Geez (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788212)

How dare you! My mother is a saint!

Perhaps.

But her møøse once bit my sister.

For Norwegian Readers (2, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788370)

The circular [regjeringen.no] . I think this is missing some details that were recommended (like don't encrypt your postscript) that may appear elsewhere.

What about postscript? (4, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787770)

I honestly don't know the technical ends and outs of either format (I'm a physicist, not a CS... albeit one who had to fuss at his students this semester for turning in crap in .docx format after I told them plaintext), but why the choice of pdf over postscript for the "formatting preserved" format? My department seems to use them pretty interchangeably... and aren't there tons of tools that do nifty things to postscript? (ps2* and *2ps style things?)

Does it compress better or something?

Re:What about postscript? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21787804)

PDF files are roughly speaking, the size of compressed equivalent PS.

Re:What about postscript? (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787852)

My vote would be 'no' on postscript. The tools aren't as commonly installed (or as refined) as PDF. Worse, I believe .ps files commonly do not include the fonts they rely on, leading to lots of headaches. For that and whatever other reasons, .ps is a cavalcade of "execution stack" error messages, while pdf always works.

"Whatever other reasons" (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788384)

Postscript is a programming language; that's why you can have stack errors. PDF is purely declarative.

Re:What about postscript? (4, Insightful)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787874)

1. PDFs are much, much smaller - as AC sibling said, about the size of PS after compression
2. PDFs are relatively tamper-resistant
3. PDFs are more widely understood
4. PDFs are lighter to render

I could go on about how they handle images and whatnot better too, but PS is a wonderful format when you still need to work with the document - I'm being completely serious here - but PDF is better as the final distribution method.

Re:What about postscript? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787966)

Ah, okay. Thanks.

Are they really lighter to render? My experience has been that acroread, xpdf, and such tend to bog down. Granted, this evince thingie that came installed with Ubuntu (which I just switched to, from Gentoo) seems pretty nice. (I'm a convert to "It just works!"-style Linux.)

Re:What about postscript? (2, Funny)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788142)

I'm a convert to "It just works!"-style Linux.
We call it OS X around here.

Re:What about postscript? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788608)

We call it OS X around here.
And outside of your mom's basement we call it Fedora.

Re:What about postscript? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789354)

1. PDFs are much, much smaller - as AC sibling said, about the size of PS after compression
No they are bigger then compressed PS. How much bigger depends on what compression in use and what program used to generate the PostScript file. Note: Complex documents is usally smaller in uncompressed PS, if you use the right tool to generate the PS-file.

2. PDFs are relatively tamper-resistant
No. I have yet too see a PDF thats not easy to tamper with.

3. PDFs are more widely understood
Come on! PostScript files are plain text files in a very readable programming language.

4. PDFs are lighter to render
No! That depends on the program that generated the PS-file or the PDF-file.

Re:What about postscript? (5, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787964)

Does it compress better or something?

Yes. For pages of pure bitonal content, the JBIG2 image compression scheme can produce files approximately 30-40x smaller than the equivalent using CCITT G4. This is such a massive improvement that it makes it tempting to simply represent all documents in raster form with ancillary text information -- in other words, it competes with vector graphics as far as side. No other widely supported potential archival format provides JBIG2. This in itself is an enormous benefit, but not quite a deal-maker for PDF.

PDF really shines in that it is easy to parse and has a limited, well-defined graphics language. The PDF/A standard even further restricts the classes of operations a conformant file can perform. On top of other things, it spells out the requirements for fonts, to ensure that documents rendered in the future will appear as intended. It also dictates that details of the document's semantic structure be embedded to assist analysis of the archived data in the future.

I probably sound like a shill for PDF, but that isn't the case. I simply write commercial code which deals with PDF. It is a terrible shame that Adobe's viewer products have made such a bad impression on everyone. I believe PDF is a well-designed, simple, extensible format with a hell of a lot going for it, if you simply discount everything with the word "Adobe" in it.

Re:What about postscript? (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788282)

The problem with postscript is that it can be alife [harvard.edu] .

Re:What about postscript? (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788296)

I am associated with one of the groups providing input on these decisions, the University of Agder. I think the actual recommendation attaches some technical notes to the suggestion to use PDF, such that the PDF does not employ encryption and is a particular subset of PDF without proprietary features. Also I think there may be recommendations regarding handicap accessibility - some PDF is a blind man's misery because it doesn't preserve the document structure.

All of that said, proper PDF is PostScript. You can feed it to the PostScript interpreter and it will render. It's not full PostScript, but a subset that is easier to process and isn't a full interpretive language as PostScript is. I've wrtten programs in PostScript that have nothing to do with printing, it's a bit similar to Forth.

Bruce

Re:What about postscript? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788504)

All of that said, proper PDF is PostScript. You can feed it to the PostScript interpreter and it will render.

You sure about that one? PDF is read in a random-access method (you usually start at the end of the file), whereas PS is interpreted essentially in-line. You'd need a bunch of 'def' statements to make PDF behave within a PS interpreter, and they don't exist in PDFs.

The content streams within PDF can probably be fed to the interpreter, but not a raw file. (Now I need to go read a bit more, since I'm not as familiar with PS...)

Re:What about postscript? (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788650)

I'd better qualify that. Many Adobe Postscript rendering engines will render PDF directly. There are lots of printers that do, many of them do not, however, advertise the feature. GhostScript seems to try but not do as well. The actual image stream is a tokenized logical subset of PostScript, the image model is the same and there is a 1:1 mapping of operators. There's extra stuff in the file that isn't part of the image stream.

It's been 15 years since I've picked up the black-and-white book which defines PDF.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:What about postscript? (3, Informative)

Quarters (18322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788460)

Gah, way to want to reset the clock by 10-12 years. PDF was developed because shuffling PostScript files around was tedious and error prone. The files are large, they don't contain fonts, and since they are plaintext the cr/cr-lf/lf line end issue can affect the file on different OS's, etc... The publishing industry labored under PostScript for far too long. The first P in PDF stands for Portable for a reason. It's a far more portable format than *.ps.

Re:What about postscript? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789138)

Believe it or not - postscript isn't device independent. Also PDF files are essentially compressed PS files - there are plenty of extensions to the format that PS doesn't support (like annotations, forms etc), but PDF files don't have to have them.

Re:What about postscript? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789550)

Pretty much everyone has Acrobat Reader or some other program that can read pdfs, but I've no idea where you would find a postscript viewer for Windows.

Also, people choose pdf in the mistaken belief that it isn't editable, so being able to do nifty things to postscript isn't going to attract them to the format.

Summary Forgot to Mention (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787782)

A fourth format was also specified: Adobe Flash was mandated for all documents that need to include animated dancing silhouettes.

Re:Summary Forgot to Mention (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787918)

You mean "animated chair throwing silhouettes". There, fixed it for you.

Re:Summary Forgot to Mention (1)

wootest (694923) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789600)

Unless they're listening to music in white headphones, in which case H.264 is mandated.

Hey, Norway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21787860)

Could you use any chairs? Free same day air delivery!

Forget Norway... what's Kenya doing? (2, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787930)

Just kidding, this is truly awesome. With any luck, this will improve the efficiency of document handling in the Norwegian government and help set off a domino effect. Unfortunately, I think it's likely that us poor Americans would be the last such domino to fall, given the unbelievable amount of data that would require conversion (much of it possibly by hand) and our government's overt support of big business (i.e. Microsoft).

But the idea of thomas.loc.gov all being in PDF... wow...

Re:Forget Norway... what's Kenya doing? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788312)

given the unbelievable amount of data that would require conversion (much of it possibly by hand)

Why on earth would you do it by hand?

Automating stuff like that is what computers are designed for. Open Office even has a batch converter built in.

Well, the question is, who is next? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21787994)

I will be curious to see what other nations pick this up and runs with it.

Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (-1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788062)

I have become skeptical with news like this. Why? Because applications that natively support ODF appear to be incomplete (read heavy). Sun's own StarOffice is no different as compared to OpenOffice.org. Microsoft will try to use these deficiencies to it's advantage.

These applications do not feel snappy and crisp at all, though the code base is at least 10 years old.

I know it's a matter of time before ODF applications catch-up to Microsoft's offerings.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788116)

Hence the Office plugin.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788128)

These applications do not feel snappy and crisp at all, though the code base is at least 10 years old.

Are you implying that MSWord is "snappy and crisp" compared to other offerings? That is certainly not my experience.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788134)

What, MS Word doesn't support ODF? If it doesn't MS better get at it.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788200)

There is a perfectly reasonable solution to this: You can use MS Office with ODF load/save plugins. They exist, they're free, and as far as I'm aware they work.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788250)

Once ODF gets some momentum, there will be a lot more tools being built. Just look at the options for PDF. The official Adobe Reader has been crap since about version 6. (Not sure if 8 is any better.) If better ODF support is needed, someone will build it.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788300)

The official Adobe Reader has been crap since about version 6.

Could you elucidate on the areas in which Adobe's reader (the one you are referring to) is deficient, otherwise you risk being called a troll!

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788440)

One word: speed. Going from 5 to 6 felt like a big step backwards. It was slow to load and sluggish to work with. My experience with everything after 5 has been worse than that. There are several alternate PDF viewers available that are quicker and easier to work with. I'm sure someone will pop up to extol the virtues of Foxit or Sumatra or whatever.

While we're at it, why don't you tell me about the deficiencies with OO.o.

I also suggest you check the definition of a troll. You could get flame bait at a stretch, but troll is unlikely. Then again I've seen 'troll' = 'I disagree, but can't argue the point.'

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788494)

My problem with OO.o on Windows is speed. It's dog slow, and its database is still wanting. In fact, the database looks and feels incomplete. The ability to design forms and add business logic to their controls (scripting) is poorly implemented!

On Linux, all the above Windows points are valid and in addition, it's extra slow and ugly looking considering the fonts and general interface.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788722)

Quite simply, xpdf is substantially faster. Adobe has been working hard on adding useless bulk (features?) to their reader, while readers in the xpdf branch have simply gotten fast and simple, while also rendering everything accurately.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788550)

Actually it's been crap since version 5.

I used nothing but Acrobat Reader 4 until I discovered Foxit Reader.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788378)

The applications are not snap and crispy but is that the fault of the standard or the application? With ODF, if someone creates an application that is blindly fast and light, everyone will get it. This avoids the vendor lock-in where you have issues opening up a Word '95 document today with Word '07.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788746)

With ODF, if someone creates an application that is blindly fast and light, everyone will get it.

Abiword and KOffice are both fast and light.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (0)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788568)

I use OpenOffice.org here at home. Calc actually manages to be MORE annoying in some ways than excel. For example using the delete key pops up a dialog asking you what about the cell you want to delete. And less so in others. Moving/copy cells is less braindead than Excel. It's free. But the documentation is crap.

TBPH, it's not a clear winner over excel.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789250)

Not to mention the way it changes your text to initial-caps all the time, and that there's no way to prevent it from doing that short of disabling the feature altogether. In which case, why did it not just default to "off"?

At least in Excel you can hit ctrl+z when it alters your text for you and undoes it without undoing what you just typed.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789326)

Well, have you reported this annoyance to the openoffice developers? Or looked for a way to turn it off?
I'm pretty sure excel behaves in the same way, but most people turn it off.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (0, Flamebait)

bergwitz (702715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789622)

Yeah, go on, report it to the OO.o developers:
1. Ask in the forums, get slammed by smartasses and then be asked to file a bug.
2. Learn the whole process of filing bugs in Open Office.
3. Search to see if someone filed a similar bug, read trough 25 different bug reports with similiar, but not exactly the same problems.
4. File the bug.
5. Get slammed in the comments to the bug for filing the bug improperly.
6. Get the bug marked as a duplicate. Then spend some time arguing whether or not it is a duplicate.
7. Wait five years, maybe they'll fix the bug in the 4.3 release.

Re:Will Norway's stand, stand the test of time? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789624)

It doesn't. And I don't think there is a way to turn such behaviour on.

The main thing stopping me from using ooo calc is that it doesn't support web queries. I use them to pick up stock prices off various web sites, then after a bit of processing the results (change in value of my stock holdings) get fed into an access database.

first Post... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788098)

Your spare time [klerck.org]? The mobo blew Join GNAA X(GAY Duty to be a big kiil myself like flaws in the BSD say I'm packing development model the facts and

Question is... will it stick? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788120)

There are lots of articles and talk about it surfacing in one government after another. And in some, it seems to get watered down to meaninglessness or removed completely (no doubt after behind-the-scenes pressure and corruption). So I have tended to ignore a lot of it. But this one might be firm. Still, having to wait an entire year, will it stick? A year from now, will it really happen there? Has the domino effect started?

pretty odd policy really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788220)

I'm not sure there are many documents that government send out that need editing, but if we suppose for a moment that there were some it is bizzare that they would select a single document format that only a minority of people use today.

The history of governments selecting single standards like this should have taught us all lessons that prevent us from doing this any more. x400, x500, TP0 & TP4 anybody?

I read somewhere about a policy in spain that made a lot more sense, basically one of the provincial governments there commit to sending your document back to you in whatever form you send it to them in.

Re:pretty odd policy really (2, Informative)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789378)

It makes sense to specify a single format, and ODF is the only standard format that currently suits the purpose and is free to be implemented by anyone.
There may be a minority of people using it, but i don't believe any of those people would be forced to pay extra to be able to.

As for sending files back in the format you sent, what happens if they're sending something new and aren't aware what format you want?
Aside from the fact that the government will need to maintain a large selection of apps to support all the different formats, and they have to draw the line somewhere... Otherwise what's to stop someone creating their own proprietary format and then charging the government for a program capable of reading it?

The cost of supporting multiple formats is prohibitive, and forcing the use of a proprietary format just pushes an unnecessary cost burden onto the people and makes the online government services less accessible.

Instead, if they support only a small set of standard formats, they reduce their own costs and any users who can't use the files can be pointed to a free download or provided with free apps on cd.

Re:pretty odd policy really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789658)

We have been living with multiple formats for as long as there have been computers and we seem to be getting on just fine. I hear the arguements but they make no real sense unless your sole objective is to push ODF, for whatever reason.

Personally I don't have an application that will read or write ODF, I don't plan to get one, I very much doubt I will ever go out of my way to install one. I object to being forced to choose software for my personal computer by my government, I just can't agree to that. I would be very surprised if I was alone in this sentiment.

The push for ODF comes from a bunch of technical individuals, their motives are probably very pure, but when you reach the common man in the street this type of policy, or any value in it, will be totally lost on them. All they will see is a mandate from government that forces them to go off and install software that they're not familiar with.

As I say, it makes no practical sense.

What about Non-Text Documents? (3, Interesting)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788284)

Does anyone know how this standard affects files that are not text? I mean things like posters, graphic images, audio, video, databases, complex spreadsheets, slideshows, etc. Basically, everything outside of Word?

For example, many government employees use Excel and are using features not supported by ODF. What happens when they need to send those files to others to edit?

Unsupported ODF features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21788324)

For example, many government employees use Excel and are using features not supported by ODF.
By these do you imply features that are not supported by the standard, such as formulas in spreadsheets? Or do you mean features that are not supported by ODF authoring applications, such as ODF standard compliance?

Re:What about Non-Text Documents? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789340)

ODF does have a "drawing" format i believe...

Aside from that, there is really very little need to mandate standard formats for audio/images and to a slightly lesser extent video because pretty much everyone is already using standard (or if not officially standards blessed, at least open) formats for such things.

ODF does support spreadsheets, and slideshows although a series of standard images could also comprise a slideshow...

And databases, they are usually hosted on a server rather than kicked around as files.

Re:What about Non-Text Documents? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789662)

Posters would be stored in pdf format once they are completed. That is generally the case anyway. ooo impress does pretty much everything that powerpoint does, so I can't see a problem there. The main potential problems with Excel are going to be spreadsheets that link to external data, and macros, but generally, if they have complex spreadsheets, they are probably using the wrong tool for the job.

Way too Orwellian (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788356)

It just seems like mandating a specific and standard set of document formats in a country undermines freedom of speech. If you look at it a certain way, the format itself can be thought of as part of the expressiveness of the content. It -is- the content, so really, what Norway is saying is that only certain tools and the mindset behind those tools is appropriate. If the government were smallish relative to the society, such standardization would not be so bad, but given that European governments tend to be largish affairs, it seems that this sort of regulation will only serve to undermine software and content in the long term.

Re:Way too Orwellian (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789424)

They are not undermining content or freedom of speech... The format is only a container.
They already mandate the use of standard containers or transmission media for other types of information, you can call the government on the telephone but you can't contact them using ham radio... You can write them a letter on a piece of paper, but you can't carve them a stone tablet.

They have to standardise on one format for practical reasons, to support a wide range of formats is more expensive and more error prone. As a taxpayer, i don't want to be paying unnecessarily for the government to support multiple formats.

They should standardise on published documented standards for several reasons.
They provide the widest and lowest cost access for the population who have to deal with the government, programs for reading/writing standard formats such as PDF and ODF are available for a wide range of systems and at a wide range of pricing/support structures. Meaning, you can obtain such programs for free if you want, or if your needs/budget are different you can obtain software with varying levels of commercial support. Big vendors such as IBM, Sun and Novell provide commercial applications and support for ODF if that's what you need. Because there are multiple vendors, competition pushes the prices down and quality up.

If they were to use a proprietary format, not only would they lock themselves in but also force third parties dealing with them to get themselves locked in too. By using a proprietary format the government are forced to purchase proprietary products at whatever price is set, and the end users are similarly forced. Because they need these particular programs (and anything else they might require) to deal with the government, people have no choice but to buy them. Because of this, the vendor can charge ridiculous amounts for retail copies while potentially giving the government big discounts to discourage them from migrating.

As a taxpayer, i don't want the government to waste money dealing with multiple formats.
As a taxpayer, i want them purchasing their software in a competitive marketplace so that they get the best deal.
As an end user, i want the same ability to go for the best deal rather than being forced down a particular route.
As a taxpayer, most important of all i want a government that does the best for ITS PEOPLE... I want a government that fights for the best deal, I want a government that buys from local suppliers whenever possible (paying more to a local supplier than to a foreign one is often a better deal, since a big chunk of that money will come back as tax), I want a government that doesn't force unnecessary expenses on it's people - especially expenses that cause money to leave the country.

Any government that forces all of it's taxpayers to spend $450 on a foreign product is acting irresponsibly, that's a huge amount of money leaving the country.

The writing's on the wall (2, Interesting)

theolein (316044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21788538)

Although Norway itself, a relatively progressive country in IT matters (both Trolltech and Opera originated there) is fairly insigificant in the big scheme of things, this move coupled with other national governments moving in similar directions, might very well be enough to get the ball rolling. If Norwegian government IT sectors report significant savings and increased efficiency, then even more governments will likely follow. It's a fact of life that smaller countries take a good look at other small countries to compare efficiencies and practices.

A good example would be the Finnish school system, which has consistently scored very highly in the PISA educational ratings. That had a major influence on other European countries, such as Germany, which scored much lower, and Switzerland, making them look at how they could improve their own educational systems. It's the same thing with IT. You could very well see other European countries making similar decisions in the future.

The biggest hurdle will of course be Microsoft, which will do anything it can to stop acceptance of ODF and push in OOXML through the door. They will almost certainly try to get their big business partners to bully local governments into accepting OOXML in place of ODF.

Re:The writing's on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789614)

True, especially here in Scandinavia we naturally keep tabs on what each of dear neighbours are doing. I'm a Finn and have already pushed this piece of news into local media -- we definitely should follow suit. Yay Norway!

OOXML might be approved later (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789004)

According to the Norwegian Government's Reference Catalogue for IT Standards in Government Sector [regjeringen.no] OOXML is currently "under observation". If OOXML is approved as an ISO standard, it could imply that government bodies in Norway will be able to choose between OOXML and ODF for editable documents.

Full text of press release (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789104)

Press release, published 21.12.2007

Equal access to public information for all citizens in Norway

Open document standards to be obligatory for state information

The Norwegian Government has decided that all information on state-operated web sites should be accessible in the open document formats HTML, PDF or ODF. This means an end to the time when public documents are published in closed formats only.

- Everybody should have equal access to public information. From 2009 on, Norwegian citizens will be able to freely choose which software to use to get access to information from public offices. More competition between suppliers of office programs will be another effect of the government's decision, Minister of Government Administration and Reform Heidi Grande Røys says.

The Government's decision is as follows:

        * HTML will be the primary format for publishing public information on the Internet.
        * PDF (PDF 1.4 and later or PDF/A ISO 19005-1) is obligatory when there is a wish to keep a document's original appearance.
        * ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) is to be used to publish documents to which the user should be able to make changes after downloading, e.g. public forms to be filled out by the user. This format is also made obligatory.

- For many years, Norway had no specific software policy. This is now changing. Our government has decided that ICT development in the public sector shall be based on open standards. In the future, we won't accept that government bodies are locking users of public information to closed formats, Ms Grande Røys says.

The new demands will take effect from January 1, 2009 for state bodies. The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform will be working to formulate regulations making this obligatory for municipal organs as well. The Government's aim is that the regulations should take force from January 1, 2009.

The government decision does not prevent state bodies from using other document formats in their communication with the users, provided that the documents also are produced in one of the obligatory formats, ODF or PDF.

Heidi Grande Røys says that state and municipal organs as well should be able to receive documents in these formats from their users and partners.
- This is the first step in standardising document formats. We are also considering formats for document exchange with the public sector and for the exchange of documents within the public sector, Ms Grande Røys says.

A list of obligatory and recommended standards in the public sector according to the Government's recent decision is to be found in Referansekatalog for IT-standarder i offentlig sektor (Reference catalogue of IT standards in the public sector, Norwegian edition only).

Highly Competent Engineering (4, Interesting)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789382)

The Norskies are also pretty open about engineering standards: http://www.standard.no/ [standard.no]

Most companies jealously guard their "intellectual property", Norway makes most of theirs freely available.

It ain't the books or documentation that make a project successful, it's the people.

Time to buy shares ... (3, Funny)

udippel (562132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21789618)

... in furniture. In chairs to be precise.
Quite a few will be tossed about until Norway retracts this mandate, or adds "or OOXML"

M$ Hires Blackwater to Fix Norway's Terrorists (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21789636)

In other news: Microsoft has hired a sizeable force of Blackwater interrogation specialists to kidnap key individuals and influence Norways' government decision and policy makers to change their terroristic software policies "with force if necessary." "This kind of socialist-communist software can not be tolerated in a capitalist market economy," Microsoft's Blackwater press-liaison said. Bush commented that "Norway, you're next on my Freedom and Peace list," and also noted that "Norway has oil." And that "because of it, they should well afford expensive Microsoft software" and that this kind of terrorist path can not be allowed for the Norwegians.
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