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Norway Moves Towards Mandatory Use of ODF and PDF 202

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the good-ideas-also-mandatory-soon dept.
Andy Updegrove writes "Norway has become the latest European country to move closer to mandatory government use of ODF (and PDF). According to a press release provided in translation to me by an authoritative source, Norway now joins Belgium, Finland, and France (among other nations) in moving towards a final decision to require such use. The Norwegian recommendation was revealed by Minister of Renewal Heidi Grande Roys, on behalf of the Cabinet-appointed Norwegian Standards Council. If adopted, it would require all government agencies and services to use these two formats, and would permit other formats (such as OOXML) to be used only in a redundant capacity.Reflecting a pragmatic approach to the continuing consideration of OOXML by ISO/IEC JTC 1, the recommendation calls for Norway to 'promote the convergence of the ODF and OOXML, in order to avoid having two standards covering the same usage.' According to the press release, the recommendation will be the subject of open hearings, with opinions to be rendered to the Cabinet before August 20 this summer.The Cabinet would then make its own (and in this case binding) recommendation to the Norwegian government."
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Norway Moves Towards Mandatory Use of ODF and PDF

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  • by lixee (863589) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:10PM (#19116573)
    This is excellent news. I'm expecting the US to be one of the last to adopt it because of the influence MS has on politics. Any thoughts?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zappepcs (820751)
      I don't know if they will be last, but I can say that this can only be good news. Open standards for documents. The mere fact that MS is fighting this with a 'standard' of their own should be indication enough to anyone that MS means to keep them locked into MS products.

      Sure, they (MS) think the MS OpenXML thingy is better, that's their job to think that way. The simple truth is that an open standard would comoditize MS products.

      I'm going to bet that the Internet community in general will simple work its wa
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Short Circuit (52384) *

        The mere fact that MS is fighting this with a 'standard' of their own should be indication enough to anyone that MS means to keep them locked into MS products.

        Well, duh. That's what you do when you make your money from software licenses. The only thing that "obligates" them to make emigration possible is their status as a convicted monopoly.

        If Flash hadn't come along, and Sun had locked down Java (and made a deal with the top two or three OS vendors to distribute their product), people would be saying the same thing about Sun.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nine-times (778537)

        Sure, they (MS) think the MS OpenXML thingy is better, that's their job to think that way. The simple truth is that an open standard would comoditize MS products.

        Not necessarily-- well, maybe I don't know quite what you mean by "commoditize". But really, insofar as Microsoft is competing fairly in the Office-suite market, what file formats people use should be relatively unimportant. The only additional cost to them is to include read/write support for ODF into their applications, which I'm guessing woul

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smilindog2000 (907665)
          Competing fairly is something Microsoft hasn't had to do for years. Otherwise, we would all get the OS and Office for free, or close to free, as OSes and word processors are mature technology which has already been fully paid for. How else could OpenOffice and Linux be so successful? In my experience, when a product is still valuable in the marketplace, vendors prefer to sell them rather than give them away for free. Microsoft continues to extort payments for software we already paid for, simply because
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:23PM (#19117977) Homepage
      The US is the last to adopt any kind of standard. They still haven't even picked up on the metric system yet. How do you expect then to standardize of document formats?
    • Won't someone please think of the children and protect them from the nasty Norwegian PDF files!
  • I hate PDF (Score:4, Informative)

    by SQLGuru (980662) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:11PM (#19116609) Journal
    First, let me say that I like the concept of a single file format that can be read by any computer and displays in a consistent manner. From that aspect, I applaud PDF.

    However, the current implementation requires that I have a bloated reader that typically includes Additional Crap (tm) in the installation which installs by default (if even given the option). The reader insists in "improving performance" by running a program in my system tray for which I must remove the configuration myself (no option).

    This is also the same reason that I hate Quick Time, so it isn't limited to a single file type.

    Layne
    • Re:I hate PDF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:17PM (#19116723)
      I agree. Fortunately since it's a published standard, there are other PDF readers other than the one from the vendor you describe...
    • Re:I hate PDF (Score:5, Informative)

      by Englabenny (625607) <{ulrik.sverdrup} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:20PM (#19116785) Homepage
      There is no such requirement. Many operating systems (Ubuntu, OS X, and probably everyone except .. ) bundle other lighter and nicer PDF viewers because they are nicer to the users.

      Is it a question of time before a lightweight, free software pdf reader captures the windows userbase as well?
    • Re:I hate PDF (Score:5, Informative)

      by tajmorton (806296) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:21PM (#19116807) Homepage

      However, the current implementation requires that I have a bloated reader that typically includes Additional Crap (tm) in the installation which installs by default (if even given the option).

      Try another PDF viewer. KPDF and XPDF are both great for Linux/X users. For a barebones Windows viewer, try SumatraPDF [kowalczyk.info].

      If you're stuck with Adobe Acrobat for some reason, then you might try these instructions [petefreitag.com] to make Acrobat run a lot faster.

      Just thoughts...
      • What about Okular? (Score:5, Informative)

        by orzetto (545509) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:35PM (#19117075)

        I like KPDF as well and that's my default viewer, but look at what is coming: Okular [kde.org] promises to be, if not an Acroread killer, at least a very serious contender. Note that this is KDE4 stuff (ergo Qt4, ergo it may easily be on Windows machines by year's end!).

        • by Coryoth (254751)
          I see it has annotations -- that's definitely a plus. Evince was in theory going to get annotations from the Summer of Code, but we'll have to see if that eventuates. PDF annotations are one of those horribly underused things because so few tools actually decently support them (Preview on MacOS X does, but I can't think of any other simple readily available readers that do).
          • Preview on OS X half-heartedly supports annotations. You can view the post-it style annotations with it, but not add them. You can add coloured text boxes and basic shapes, but as soon as you save these are flattened and become uneditable. It's a shame, because the underlying API is much richer, and could be used to write a decent PDF reader quite easily.
      • by Thaelon (250687)
        Another alternative is Foxit Reader [foxitsoftware.com]

        As always, not affiliated, just like it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      err, Foxit Reader (win), KPDF (kde), Evince (GNOME), whatever OSX's built-in reader is, XPDF?
      I don't remember the last time I used Acrobat
    • Re:I hate PDF (Score:5, Informative)

      by Oswald (235719) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:25PM (#19116881)
      It's amazing how slowly word is getting around, but you do not have to put up with Adobe's bullshit. This company [foxitsoftware.com] makes a no-cost reader that absolutely blows Acrobat Reader away. It's lightweight, fast, stable and when you close the window, the process actually stops instead of just sitting in the background, screwing up your system.
      • What's this obsession with readers? Are all the documents we'll ever need already written? Or are these applications actually PDF-compatbile word processors?
        • by bhtooefr (649901)
          PDFCreator on Windows, built-in PDF-creation facilities in CUPS+Ghostscript on every other OS.
        • Any application that can create PostScript output (i.e. anything that can print) can create PDFs. Some applications can also support the more advanced features of PDF (e.g. bookmarks containing a document outline and hyperlinks). I believe OpenOffice 2.x does. I use pdflatex to generate PDFs from semantic markup. It works very nicely on large documents; I'm currently using it for a book which is 260 pages and growing.
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      However, the current implementation requires that I have a bloated reader that typically includes Additional Crap (tm) in the installation which installs by default (if even given the option). The reader insists in "improving performance" by running a program in my system tray for which I must remove the configuration myself (no option).

      There are a number of methods for streamlining Adobe's reader. Eg. Adobe Reader SpeedUp [tnk-bootblock.co.uk]. But give Adobe credit where it's due, they opened the PDF format long ago, so the

    • Actually, I found that there are several readers, particularly Foxit in windows, and KPDF in most other operating systems, which handle PDFs quickly and efficiently.

      That being said, even sticking to just adobe's reader/generator, and printers, I have found PDFs to print differently on multiple printers, and while usually reproduced fairly accurately, it's rarely a 100% thing.
    • Sumatra PDF is a good lightweight (under 1mb) freeware PDF viewer for Windows.

      It opens PDF files extremely quickly (usually in less than a second on my rather average computer, compared to an average of almost 10 secs with Adobe Reader) and doesn't try to takeover you computer and run your life etc. I've also yet to find a PDF which doesn't display correctly with it.

      Website: http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/ [kowalczyk.info]
      • by malsdavis (542216)
        Oh yeah, forgot the most important part: Unlike almost all other Windows PDF viewers It's open source.
    • However, the current implementation requires that I have a bloated reader that typically includes Additional Crap (tm) in the installation which installs by default (if even given the option). The reader insists in "improving performance" by running a program in my system tray for which I must remove the configuration myself (no option).

      Huh?

      Even if you are using Adobe's reader, you can easily kill all of the plugins. Then there are alternatives, like foxit reader on windows (love this one on my USB drive,

    • Re:I hate PDF (Score:4, Informative)

      by julesh (229690) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:29PM (#19118089)
      I'm still using acrobat 5. It opens in less than half a second, uses only 12 megabytes of disk space, doesn't have a notification area icon, and just seems to me to work better than more recent versions. I've yet to find a PDF file I wanted to read that doesn't work (although it has now reached the point that almost all pop up a message saying they might not work properly, yet they always do).

      Or, as other posters suggest, use an entirely different program.
    • Let me be the first to call bullshit. Adobe reader sucks, but old versions still run fine on XP, and Foxit reader reads pdf's super fast and is lightweight http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php [foxitsoftware.com]

      Besides that, I can think of at least 3 open source pdf readers off the top of my head. Same thing with quicktime. There are a lot of other players that can play quicktime files. A standard isn't an implementation, and when multiple good implementations exist, you can't put down the standard because one of
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Preview works fine in OS X without downloading anything made by Adobe. Heck... I can make PDFs with OS X without even installing anything Adobe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitterOak (537666)

      I like PDF.

      There are free, open source PDF creators and readers out there. Actually, I like the Acrobat readers up to version 5.0. After that it became bloatware. What I like about PDF is that fonts are embedded right in the file, so you know that documents will look the same and print correctly on a Linux, Mac, or Windows environment. Images and text are stored compactly. Compare a typical PDF file size to the equivalent PostScript size. It is also a very convenient way of getting files to a printer

  • Seems obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:15PM (#19116687) Homepage Journal

    If adopted, it would require all government agencies and services to use these two formats, and would permit other formats (such as OOXML) to be used only in a redundant capacity.Reflecting a pragmatic approach to the continuing consideration of OOXML by ISO/IEC JTC 1, the recommendation calls for Norway to 'promote the convergence of the ODF and OOXML, in order to avoid having two standards covering the same usage.'

    The results of this investigation seem obvious to me. They'll find that there are no significant features of the OOXML format that aren't already replicated by ODF. They will also find that OOXML is needlessly complicated by support for odd bugs and backward compatibility issues with previous Microsoft Office releases. Finally, they will find that a dozen or so major software providers are actively supporting ODF while only Microsoft is actively promoting OOXML.

    After the report is released, Microsoft money will step in and suppress it. The guys who wrote the report will be fired, and a new report will be written recommending OOXML as an "industry standard" with "longstanding vendor support". ODF supporters will be recast as small companies that could go belly up at any time. The whole standardization effort will collapse in the backlash, and nothing will get done.

    On the bright side, they're keeping up the good fight. Without this pressure, nothing will ever change.
    • The opposition parties will release evidence that an outside company BOUGHT those politicians and that their decision was made purely because of Microsoft's money.

      They'll then run on a platform of hiring their programmers to work on their software for their country.

      Eventually, Open Standards will win. If for no other reason than it is CHEAPER in the long run and the money goes back into their economy instead of to Redmond, WA, USA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yeah... You have no idea how envious Norwegians get of people who make more than themselves, especially if it is not deserved. Not long ago there was a huge uproar over one of the politicians getting a personal trainer covered by her party. And socialism here isn't a fringe group, they pretty much _are_ the government. It's only the shade that differs.

        Also note that we have a history of implementing pretty radical IT related legislature, like the data protection laws [jus.uio.no] which puts great restrictions on what co
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kjella (173770)
          Yeah... You have no idea how envious Norwegians get of people who make more than themselves, especially if it is not deserved. Not long ago there was a huge uproar over one of the politicians getting a personal trainer covered by her party. And socialism here isn't a fringe group, they pretty much _are_ the government. It's only the shade that differs.

          Amen. Let me try to draw a picture of the Norwegian political landscape, on a socialist / capitalist axis:
          • Socialist left
          • Labour party
            • Centre party
            • Christian part
      • The opposition parties will release evidence that an outside company BOUGHT those politicians and that their decision was made purely because of Microsoft's money.


        Fat chance. Microsoft learned from the mistakes of their US antitrust trial.

        They'll try and buy ALL the major political parties at the same time, not just the ones currently in power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hyfe (641811)

      After the report is released, Microsoft money will step in and suppress it. The guys who wrote the report will be fired, and a new report will be written recommending OOXML as an "industry standard" with "longstanding vendor support".

      That's called corruption. You know, it doesn't have to be built into the system. Although It obviously can be, as the US is bloody rich.
      .

      Either way, I'm kinda curious how the money gets to be part of this. The elected represantatives are, well, elected, and obviously aren't

      • That's called corruption.

        That it is. And it amazes me how Microsoft gets away with it time and time again. All I can say is that they're masters of reasonable doubt. They really do threaten, cajole, and otherwise pressure others without making it seem like they're doing it, or at least seem like they're doing it illegally. (e.g. If you try and switch to free software, Microsoft will need to invoke the audit clause of the EULA to ensure that you're not using it as a cover for software piracy.)

        I will say this

    • Believe it or not, it turns out that not all governments are as corrupt as the United States federal administration. Some are more corrupt, some are less corrupt, and what principles of government in particular are up for sale depends on the government.

      Even within the USA it's not all uniform among the states, take Massachusetts for example.

      So, while it's fine to be cynical in a particular instance, it's not possible to extend your reasoning more generally from that position. In other words, there's h

  • Redundant copies? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HostAdmin (1073042) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:16PM (#19116699) Homepage
    > Other formats may be used however, as long as documents with the same content are available at the same time in ODF or PDF.

    I suppose this is to limit opposition from MS and crew, but it's a bad idea. How's going to audit every document to be sure they're in sync?

    Make a choice and stick with it.

    • by networkBoy (774728) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:33PM (#19117051) Homepage Journal
      Simple, only the ODF document can be authoritative. Any derivative document can not be considered authoritative by default as it is not the Gov't spec'd format.
      -nB
      • So when the Open Standard copy becomes authoritative, how long do you believe someone will spend the time and effort keeping those "redundant copies" in sync?

        Not very long. This is the old "path of least resistance". And it works.
      • by jgrahn (181062)

        Simple, only the ODF document can be authoritative. Any derivative document can not be considered authoritative by default as it is not the Gov't spec'd format
        .

        Or, I could (if I worked for the Norwegian government) keep doing what I do: write my documents with emacs, typeset them with troff, and generate PDF.

        Word processors are evil, no matter what format they keep their files in.

    • Think of PDFs as the final "compiled" product of ODFs. If you want to distribute the document in a non-editable, non-variable, and printable format that's accessible by all, PDFs are it. ODFs are more of the "source code" document used to produce the final PDF product. Thus the concerns about synchronization are handled by the method of pipelining the documents. All edits are made to the ODFs internally, then published to web under the PDF format.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:23PM (#19116855)
    Sounds like the Scandinavian countries are too out-of-line. I'm surprised that Microsoft hasn't petitioned the U.S. government to nuke them or at least go on a bombing campaign against these shameless eco(nomy)-terrorists.
    • Scandinavia [wikipedia.org] = Denmark+Sweden+Norway. Scandinavia+Iceland+Finland = Nordic countries.

      That's because all Scandinavian languages are mutually intelligible, and even though Icelandic is strictly speaking Scandinavian it is also very different from the other four (yes, four: Norwegian comes in two flavours, Norwegian and New-Norwegian. Norwegians, you can start flaming now.). Finnish is a completely unrelated language altogether.

      (However, Linus is a Swedish-speaking Finn. Not sure whether that counts for Terr

      • Scandinavia is often used as a synonym for the Nordic countries [wikipedia.org] in an English language context.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Coryoth (254751)

        Finnish is a completely unrelated language altogether.

        Finnish is from the Finno-Ugric language group which includes Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian, and a smattering of groups in Russia. It is truly a bizarre language (in that it is very different from Indo-European languages -- which includes pretty much all the other European languages). I'm trying to learn a little Finnish, and to be honest my knowledge of Japanese is far more helpful as background than my knowledge of English and other European languages. It really is the odd language out, and not easy to le

        • Thank you for informing fellow slashdotters about the bizarrness of the Finnish languge. Part of it is because it's pretty much an agglutinative language (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutination [wikipedia.org]). Some examples from that wikipedia page:

          For example, the Finnish word talossanikin means "in my house, too". Derivation can also be quite complex. For example, Finnish epäjärjestelmällisyys has the root järki "logos", and consists of negative-"logos"-causative-frequentative-nominaliz er-a

      • by zokum (650994) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:10PM (#19120197) Homepage
        Norwegian doesn't come in two variants you dolt. There's a multitude of dialects that vary a lot and two written forms based on these. One is bokmål and the other is nynorsk. Bokmål, literally, book-language, is mostly based on danish, while nynorsk is closer to the original old norse language. From a linguistic point, nynorsk is the natural successor of old norse while bokmål is a norwegianized danish. Very few people actually speak like the forms are written, most speak some sort of dialect where a lot of the 'correct' grammar orally is not correct if written.
    • We Norwegians love to get attention, and we welcome any nukes with open arms. That won't only put us in the news, but also put us in the history books! Go for it! Our current plan of becoming the best nation to live in isn't working, apparently historians doesn't care about statistical jiggery :>(
    • by hyfe (641811)

      Sounds like the Scandinavian countries are too out-of-line.

      Well, as a Norwegian, I can honestly say that this is scaring the shit out-of-me. The US has a long history of getting "back" at countries by confusing different issues. Between us recognizing the rightfully elected Palestine government, our lack of enthusiasm for invading Iraq and this, we're fast getting on the shit-list.
      .

      Now, we have an on-going border dispute with Russia over the Barentsea and Svalbard, and without US support we're pretty muc

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:47PM (#19117371)
    I keep hearing that some large company, county, state, or country is moving closer to ODF and (fill in FOSS of your choice), but it doesn't actually happen. Microsoft swoops in, independent thinking I.T. director is fired, reassigned, or re-educated, and nothing big happens. Microsoft may be paying some of these entities to continue using their software, rather than the other way around, to keep up appearances, but it still doesn't happen.

    Give me a story where 50,000+ desktops have actually thrown Microsoft out, and kept them out, and then we may have a news story. Until then, stop wasting the bandwidth!

  • Or sweden ? because it seems that those would be the best places for geeks/internet people to live in. pirate party is enough by itself.
    • by gnud (934243)
      Yeah, it's kinda easy if you're white and speak english. If you're not and you don't, you have to learn norwegian and stuff. Check the job postings at opera.com :D
    • Short answer: No.
      Norway hasn't accepted immigrants since early in the 70ies.

      However, there is a quota of 5000 specialists per year. I'd guess most of the Slashdot readership would fall under this category, and the Norwegian IT market is in desperate need of more people (the hiring bonuses for IT people are getting ridiculous). This quota has to date never been filled. Apx. 1000 people come to Norway per year under it.

      Google [google.com] is among the companies looking for more employees in their norwegian departmen
      • by Esteanil (710082)
        Oh, and CV = Curriculum Vitae = Résumé. I hear some of you USians don't know what CV means. :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:01PM (#19117625)
    Microsoft appears to be making moves towards turning a profit whether people accept their software or not. They can try to profit from Free and Open Source Software by ensuring that it must implement "patented" technology in OOXML. Just look at their latest insinuations regarding FOSS and Microsoft "patents" -- OpenOffice.org (which supports ODF) is in that list and it doesn't even have OOXML support!

    If ODF is ever merged with OOXML then Microsoft will try to force free software developers to turn the same tricks Novell has. Or perhaps it will go after users in a RIAA-like rampage. This is why ODF should be protected from Microsoft's influence and OOXML (or any new standard Microsoft participates in) should probably remain untouched for at least 20 years.
  • by owlnation (858981) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:04PM (#19117687)
    Does this mean that closed formats are now pining for the fjords?
  • Technical comparison (Score:4, Informative)

    by seandiggity (992657) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:08PM (#19117749) Homepage
    A white paper based on a technical comparison between the ODF and OOXML formats [freesoftwaremagazine.com]

    ...the OOXML "standard" is terrible from a technical point-of-view, even if you forget about Microsoft's motivation behind it.
  • Reflecting a pragmatic approach to the continuing consideration of OOXML by ISO/IEC JTC 1, the recommendation calls for Norway to 'promote the convergence of the ODF and OOXML, in order to avoid having two standards covering the same usage.'

    Reflecting a pragmatic approach to the continuing consideration of FORTRAN by ISO/IEC JTC 1, the recommendation calls for Norway to 'promote the convergence of the C and FORTRAN starting-array-subscript issue, in order to avoid having two standards covering the same usa

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