Second ODF Plugfest: Notes from the First Day

The second ODF Interoperability Workshop held in Orvieto gathered together more than 30 ODF experts, developers and stakeholders from public administrations to improve ODF interoperability. People from all over the world for two days collaborated to ensure not “merely” standards’ compliance but true interoperability, below an essay of facts and figures of the event.

Over the last few months we worked hard to make it happen, and Orvieto proved to be the perfect venue to hold the second ODF plugfest and the conference in the same place. In fact nearly all participants were interested in both events, and the world capital of “good living” made both events interesting and enjoable.

ODF Plugfest group Photo
ODF Plugfest Group Photo, courtesy of Dough Mahugh

The Second ODF Plugfest was held at Palazzo Coelli, home of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Orvieto foundation, on the 2nd and 3rd of November.

Stefano Talamoni – Director of Centro Studi Città di Orvieto foundation and great supporter of the event -  invited the major Antonio Concina, Major of Orvieto, to open the conference with a brief greeting.

The Mayor of Orvieto hailed both the ODF Plugfest and the conference as “a prestigious national and international showcase” which Orvieto is proud to host.  “While an ancient town, Orvieto is oriented towards technological innovation and global communication that promotes intercultural relations and local cultural development”.

Being the host of the event I had the honour to invite to speak Fabio Pistella, President of the Italian National Center for ICT in Public Administrations (CNIPA). Pistella, on behalf of the Minister of Innovation Renato Brunetta, provided the audience with insights into the state of the art about open standards adoption and dissemination in Italy. He said that laws that are mandatory or otherwise prescriptive don’t work, especially in the extremely changing IT world. He rather made the case for policies and procedures, agreeing that there is a need for improvements to be made around open standards in Italy.

He mentioned also open source software, saying that the Italian government is about to launch an open source promotion program that will be deployed over the next three years. The program will focus on activities ranging from communication to monitoring open source usage among Italian public administrations.

My talk “Open Standards and Interoperability” opened the works of the ODF Plugfest.

Pim Bliek - Advisor Open Source Software & Open Standards at Netherlands in Open Connection (NOiV) – kindly accepted to join the event to pass the ODF Plugfest ‘torch’, reporting about his experience with running the very first ODF Plugfest, held at the Hague in June.

Stefano Paggetti – Director of the Consortium of local authorities and public bodies based in Umbria to support the development of information society and ICT (SIR) – was proud to explain how the regional law 26/7/2006 n.11 favors adherence to open standards and foster open source usage via micro-finance programs. Paggetti in his speech mentioned also all the challenges ahead, including ODF and interoperability issues related to converting legacy documents to ODF and digital signature.

Bart Hanssens –  interoperability expert at Fedict and Chair of the ODF OIC TC -  superbly moderated a round up of progresses achieved since the first ODF Plugfest. After his introduction on the start of the art he invited to talk Joel Onofrio, software engineer at Google (Google Docs), who briefly updated the audience about the state of the art of ODF support at Google Docs.

Ming Fei Jia, IBM Lotus Symphony Staff Software Engineer and OASIS OpenDocument Format TC voting member – spoke about Symphony:

IBM Lotus Symphony ‘Vienna’, the next major version expected to enter public beta in Q1/2010, will share common core code with OpenOffice 3.x. As such, ODF interoperability between these two ‘family members’ should no longer exist. The previous interoperability issues were attributed to different code bases and differing interpretations of the ODF specification. As a result of this convergence, both OpenOffice and Symphony will team up and work to identify and resolve any identified implementation bugs through their direct and ongoing participation in the ODF Plug-fest activities as led by the OpenDocs Society.

Doug Mahugh - Lead Standards Professional on the Office Interoperability team at Microsoft – said that over 1000 ODF interoperability bugs have been fixed since the Hague, explaining that about 800-900 of them were basically fixing issues related to the new Microsoft office system. Having heard about the desire for test documents from Microsoft, he said that we will be providing them. Talking about interoperability he said:

Interop is a feature, and we want to be competitive on that feature like any feature.  The Office team is striving to promote interoperability and provide a wide choice of formats for users of office suites.

Thomas Zander, Qt team at Nokia, said that KOffice plans to release its version 2.1 soon.

The 2.0 release notes said it was not for end users, we are looking at user feedback to see how well 2.1 will be received.

KOffice2 is maturing its ODF support nicely, in various places its much better than the other ODf players (vector graphics for example), in others its still lagging a bit behind.

I asked him how Maemo decided to use KOffice, below his answer.

The small size of the application suite and the speed and flexibility of the applications lead Maemo to use KOffice for a document viewer for the Maemo 5 phone.

The choice of KOffice actually went via ODF. As I am an ODF TC member via Nokia, my name came up when Maemo was looking for viable open source solutions and I suggested they investigate KOffice. Over the summer I have been on loan to the Maemo department to work full time on this project and to help with getting the contact between a company and the open source community.

Maemo has a long history of working with open source and it shows in the processes and things like legal. Doing the right thing was often not hard. So KOffice improvements have been submitted to the original repository, for
example.There is always room for improvement, but given the size of Nokia the processes inside of Maemo were certainly open source minded.

Beyond ODF interoperability issues, Maemo shows the way to go when you really want to deploy a sustainable open source strategy, but being a different subject I’ll leave it for another blog post.

Dirk Vollmar, software consultant at DiaLOGIKa, spoke about ODF-OOXML converter, while Oliver-Rainer Wittmann closed the session talking about the state of the art at

Stay tuned for more!