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Updegrove: Putting the OpenDocument Foundation to Bed (without its supper)

CDF is one of the very many useful projects that W3C has been laboring on, but not one that you would have been likely to have heard much about. Until recently, that is, when Gary Edwards, Sam Hiser and Marbux, the management (and perhaps sole remaining members) of the OpenDocument Foundation decided that CDF was the answer to all of the problems that ODF was designed to address. This announcement gave rise to a flurry of press attention that Sam Hiser has collected here. As others (such as Rob Weir) have already documented, these articles gave the Foundation's position far more attention than it deserved.

The most astonishing piece was written by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. Early on in her article she stated that, "the ODF camp might unravel before Microsoft’s rival Office Open XML (OOXML) comes up for final international standardization vote early next year." All because Gary, Sam and Marbux have decided that ODF does not meet their needs. Astonishing indeed, given that there is no available evidence to support such a prediction.

So what is this CDF, and should it be considered to be an alternative to ODF? Here's what Chris Lilley had to say, reconstructed from my notes (in other words, this is not a direct quote):

So we were in a meeting when these articles about the Foundation and CDF started to appear, and we were really puzzled. CDF isn't anything like ODF at all – it's an "interoperability agreement," mainly focused on two other specifications - XHTML and SVG. You'd need to use another W3C specification, called Web Interactive Compound Document (WICD, pronounced "wicked"), for exporting, and even then you could only view, and not edit the output.

The one thing I'd really want your readers to know is that CDF (even together with WICD) was not created to be, and isn't suitable for use, as an office format.

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