Input To UK Government

My input to the UK Government consultation on document formats:

I believe it is imperative to have a single document format standard used as the benchmark for corresponding with the UK Government, rather than a named software package or a choice of formats. That standard must be capable of complete implementation by any party using only the specification without needing a relationship (such as a license) with a specific vendor or community. Among the existing full implementations there must be one which is both open source and available to citizens without charge (and depending only on other software such as an OS that is without charge). To take any other approach is to tacitly promote the business of a preferred vendor and to restrict access to government to an elite able to obtain the preferred vendor’s offerings.

I believe the proposal above is a reasonable, balanced and effective expression of these principles and I wholeheartedly endorse it.

Google, VP8 and Codec Standards

The politics around codecs are complex and the incumbents are prone to deceptive feints, like in 2010 when MPEG-LA claimed that H.264 was available “free” for web uses (but content owners probably still paid multiple fees in the production chain).  So it is perhaps understandable that some people misunderstood Google’s agreement with MPEG-LA and interpreted it as a victory for the patent circus and the end of any claim of freedom for VP8.

In fact, my reading of the available facts suggests Google won. The license with MPEG-LA looks mostly face-saving for the patent pool, and the attacks from the incumbent companies suggest they’re falling back on the next line of defence. The whole situation is an object lesson in why software patents simply must not be tolerated. Read more in InfoWorld.

[En Français]

Open Source Document Management

I’ve not tried a document management system before, but these videos of LibreOffice checking documents in & out of document management systems via the new CMIS interfaces added in LibreOffice 4.0 make it look really easy. I’d like to try a group collaboration using one of these systems.

This video shows how to do it with Alfresco:

This video of using the same featiure with Nuxeo shows it’s just as easy with any CMIS-enabled document management system:

I wonder if there’s any hope of public services like Google Drive or Dropbox or GitHub offering support for the CMIS standard?

Open Means No Patents

I’m delighted with the definitions the UK Government has chosen for “open source” and “open standards” in their new Open Standards Principles. They are using OSI as their benchmark for open source, and have a clear statement that only standards with all rights to implement freely available are open. I’ve written more on ComputerWorldUK.

Apple and Connector Standards

It seems Apple wasn’t serious when it promised the European commission it would use micro-USB. Read more about it in my article in ComputerWorldUK this week.

It’s ODF Time

Now the UK’s open standards consultation is over, let’s get back to basics.


All these power plugs didn’t give us more choice – they instead inconvenienced us all as every vendor chose a different “standard” that suited them to power their gear. They have been superseded by the micro-USB connector for powering electronics in Europe.

In just the same way, what we need for document processing is not a choice of standards, but one open standard – ODF, OpenDocument Format.

Share freely 🙂

Standards Consultation Deadline

Please send a contribution to the UK Open Standards Consultation TODAY, before the deadline at midnight UK time. It’s really simple, as little as an e-mail if you want – see the end of today’s article in ComputerWorldUK.

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