Open Standards0607

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Why open standards are important

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Open Standards0607

  1. 1. Open Standards: Why the grassroots should care <ul><ul><li>Michelle Murrain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MetaCentric Technology Advising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nonprofit Open Source Initiative </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>What is an open standard? </li></ul><ul><li>Document file formats and standards </li></ul><ul><li>Data sharing standards </li></ul><ul><li>APIs and standards </li></ul><ul><li>So why does it matter? </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is an open standard? <ul><li>An open standard is a collaboratively determined and publicly available standard for technology </li></ul><ul><li>There are varied definitions for what an open standard is </li></ul><ul><li>Basic definition: developed by consensus, industry-wide, and voluntary </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is an open standard? <ul><li>A definition that is closer to my heart is one by Bruce Perens: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Standards are available for all to read and implement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They maximize End-User Choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Standards are free for all to implement, with no royalty or fee. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Standards and the organizations that administer them do not favor one implementor over another for any reason other than the technical standards compliance of a vendor’s implementation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implementations of Open Standards may be extended, or offered in subset form. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Standards may employ license terms that protect against subversion of the standard by embrace-and-extend tactics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From: http://perens.com/OpenStandards/ </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Open Standards Examples <ul><li>This all seems esoteric, until we talk about the open standards we all depend on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Email formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>HTML/CSS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TCP/IP (the language of the internet) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If we didn't have open standards, we'd have a hard time doing much of anything online. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Standards battles that might sound familiar <ul><li>Betamax vs. VHS </li></ul><ul><li>Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD </li></ul><ul><li>(These are formats really, not exactly standards) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Document File Formats <ul><li>There are many formats in which documents are stored. </li></ul><ul><li>They have changed over time </li></ul><ul><li>The most used are not open standards </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft formats are not open standards (even though they have become de-facto standards) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Document Formats <ul><li>DOC (Microsoft) proprietary </li></ul><ul><li>PDF (Portable Document Format) prop. -> standard </li></ul><ul><li>RTF (Rich text format) prop. </li></ul><ul><li>Word Perfect prop. </li></ul><ul><li>TXT (Plain text) standard (ASCII) </li></ul><ul><li>HTML standard </li></ul><ul><li>XML standard </li></ul>
  9. 9. More document formats <ul><li>XLS, PPT (Microsoft Excel) </li></ul><ul><li>SYLK (Symbolic LinK – MS spreadsheet format) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Example <ul><li>Everyone uses .doc format for sharing files. </li></ul><ul><li>.doc format is not an open, publicized standard </li></ul><ul><li>All developers except Microsoft must reverse-engineer the format </li></ul><ul><li>Reverse-engineering does not always work. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Word Document rendered (incorrectly) in Open Office
  12. 12. New Dueling Standards <ul><li>Open Document Format (ODF) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ISO standard for all office document formats such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by Open Office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meets the definition of open standard </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Dueling Standards, cont. <ul><li>Office Open XML (OOXML) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted by MS, used in Office 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Undergoing standards process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are arguments as to whether it is actually an open standard </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. So why is this important? <ul><li>Documents are data! </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to buy software should not determine whether or not an organization has access to their data. </li></ul><ul><li>Open standards promotes innovation and software choice. </li></ul><ul><li>Open standards makes migration easy. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Data Sharing Standards <ul><li>Data sharing standards are standard ways to define certain kinds of data, so that it is more easily shared </li></ul><ul><li>Financial data is a good example </li></ul><ul><li>These standards generally use XML, itself an open standard </li></ul><ul><li>Not much traction in the nonprofit sector </li></ul>
  16. 16. Data Sharing Examples <ul><li>XBRL – eXtensible Business Reporting Language – XML based language for financial data. Used by FDIC and others </li></ul><ul><li>XRI/XDI – eXtensible Resource Identifier </li></ul><ul><li>ASAE (association group) Constituent XML Standards </li></ul>
  17. 17. APIs and data sharing <ul><li>What is an API? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application Programming Interface </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A way to get data out (or put data into) an application </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is an open API? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documented and freely accessible (to those for whom it is appropriate) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Where do open APIs and open Standards meet? <ul><li>Open standard: all applications can speak the same language about the data they have </li></ul><ul><li>Open API: that data is freely accessible to those who need it – sharing between applications, or between organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Holy grail – doesn't exist yet. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Why does this all matter to me? <ul><li>Your data is your destiny </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data about donors and clients </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data about organizational process and history </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data on staff </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Only open standards can guarantee that destiny <ul><li>Open standards means that any application for a given purpose (word processing, database, what have you) can read and write your data faithfully </li></ul><ul><li>Open standards and open source software go hand in hand </li></ul>
  21. 21. Resources <ul><li>Wikipedia article on Open Standards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_standards </li></ul><ul><li>Open Source Initiative's take on open standards as it relates to open source software: http://opensource.org/osr/ </li></ul><ul><li>Oasis ODF format 1.1: http://tinyurl.com/2hfg7h </li></ul><ul><li>NTEN Open API whitepaper: http://tinyurl.com/yrfsbo </li></ul><ul><li>This talk is available at: http://wiki.metacentric.org </li></ul>

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