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What we’re doing on open standards

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Open Document Formats Guidance 1.2

We’ve been selecting open standards to help government to adapt to changing needs and technologies. We’ve been working with industry and providing guidance for departments.

It’s amazing what we can achieve by working together in this way. In the last few years we’ve gone from wanting to make it easier for people to work with documents produced by government, to changing the approach of some of the biggest names in technology.

Open Document Format (ODF) is an important standard - by making documents in a format that is open to all, we are ensuring that there are no barriers or bias when we provide services to the public.

One format for everyone

It started with when a member of the public posted a suggestion on the Standards Hub. He told us that a user should not be expected to purchase new equipment or install new software, just in order to read an official document. We got to work on investigating the formats that we should be using for government documents.

As a result of that, since July 2014:

  • all of central government has committed to moving to the ODF 1.2 for their editable documents
  • most departments have published their implementation plans
  • the proportion of new files on GOV.UK that are published as ODF documents is increasing steadily
  • software suppliers have rolled out better support for open formats in their products and are continuing to do so

What happens after a standard is selected

Once an open standard has been adopted for use across government, departments have to carefully plan when and how to make the change – we ask them to be transparent about that by publishing their plans. To help them make the change we share advice and guidance when it’s needed.

Learning from each other

We’ve now published a guidance manual to help departments move over to ODF. For many departments that change requires a big shift in their approach towards choosing office productivity solutions. The manual provides a balance of information to help technology leaders with technical, organisational and user needs. It has detailed chapters on topics such as:

Whilst the manual focuses on buyers and implementers of ODF 1.2 within government organisations, it should be useful for anyone wanting to know how to implement ODF in their organisation.

We’ve involved the OpenDocument community as well as industry in its creation. Later this month, we’ll be joining them in The Hague for an event that brings together developers working with ODF to help improve their products – ODF Plugfest 2015. We’ll be talking to the community about what we’ve learned so far and about what we need them to work on to make things better for users.

We need standards that work for everyone

The best people to tell us about standards are the people who are delivering services and building on them every day; developers and technologists in industry, research and government organisations.

With your help, we select open standards that will help deliver better, more efficient services.
We’ve set up a new page on the Government Technology blog to keep you updated on where things are up to.

Get in touch through the Standards Hub if you’ve got ideas about other needs we could help to meet by selecting open standards for use across government.

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