Mass. Back on Track for ODF Implementation

The State of Massachusetts has reaffirmed its commitment to begin using the OpenDocument Format by Jan. 1, 2007, a move that has been welcomed by the ODF Alliance.

“We plan to implement ODF, using translator technology plugged in to Microsoft Office, in a group of early adopter agencies, including the Massachusetts Office on Disability, by January 1, 2007,” Louis Gutierrez, CIO of Massachusetts’ ITD (Information Technology Division), said in a mid-year statement on ODF implementation, dated Aug. 23.

The statement also addressed the concerns raised earlier in 2006 regarding how the planned move to the ODF standard affects people with disabilities who use Microsoft accessibility software.

In July, Microsoft gave in to the unrelenting pressure to be more open, particularly with regard to its Microsoft Office Open XML file format and interoperability with the OpenDocument Format alternative.

Gutierrez in the statement said, “Promising new projects are underway this year to create translator software that will enable the Microsoft Office suite to translate documents from Microsoft formats to ODF and vice versa.”

Click here to read more about an open-source project to create a series of tools that allow translation between the OpenXML format and the ODF format.

The tools produced by these projects, once publicly released and validated, will allow agencies to begin implementing ODF while leveraging the installed base of Microsoft Office and available assistance technologies, Gutierrez said, adding that “we anticipate one or more of these projects to allow ODF adoption to commence before January 1, 2007.”

The move was welcomed by Marino Marcich, the managing director of the ODF Alliance, which represents a broad cross section of organizations, academia and industry, dedicated to improving access to electronic government documents.

“We welcome the news that plug-ins are expected to preserve full accessibility for those with disabilities, while also supporting the ITD policy to adopt ODF,” he said.

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