German standards body creates new working group to focus on interoperability

I was having lunch with Jean Paoli today and he told me about this press release that came out this morning from the German national standards body (DIN), where they've formed a working group that will focus on the translation of document formats in order to support interoperability.

I just finished reading though it, and according to the article they will create "an in-depth Technical Report detailing how to translate between the two document standards Office Open XML (Ecma 376) and ODF 1.0 (ISO/IEC 26300) in order to support interoperability between the two formats."

The standards group will be led by Gerd Schürmann who is head of the eGovernment unit at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS in Berlin. Gerd hit the nail on the head with this statement: "Instead of either/or, we're enabling interoperability between various document standards."

This is awesome news for folks who are either ODF supporters or OpenXML supporters as well as those of us who are both ODF and OpenXML supporters. It means we'll have a standards group focused on that translation so that we can easily get documents into the format we choose.

I guess the only folks who won't like this news are those actually opposed to one of the formats, but there are only a handful of them (and we all know them well by now <g/>).

According to the press release: "The Working Group is open and is inviting international experts who would like to contribute to the Working Group's findings." I was really excited when I saw this, because it means that not only do we have the technical expertise from DIN and Fraunhofer, but this standards work can benefit from the entire international community.

As I'm sure you all noticed, a couple months ago we saw a big shift in momentum, where the discussions around file formats were no longer driven by the religious zealots, but instead by the folks who actually want to build solutions and focus on the technology. For those of us involved in document and content management, ODF and OpenXML have created a whole new ecosystem that is still in its infancy. That's why there is so much interest and excitement. See my post from earlier this week if you're curious to hear about what other people are doing with these open formats.