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Article

Document Interoperability Initiative Drives Development of New Tools

Industry experts collaborate to help organizations test and verify conformance with standardized document formats

The variety of software programs and document formats in the market can make it difficult for organizations to exchange data among disparate systems. For example, to carry out their public service, communicate with citizens and operate efficiently, most government employees need to access, read and edit multiple types of documents. International standards for document formats are an important step toward providing individuals and organizations with this kind of document interoperability, but the creation of standards is just the beginning.

In fact, technology industry experts participating in an ongoing series of Document Interoperability Initiative (DII) forums concluded that document interoperability would be enhanced through an independent tool and Web site that allows for the testing and validation of documents created by implementations of the IS29500 and ECMA-376 standards. Today, Fraunhofer FOKUS, a leading German research institute, detailed its plan to build such a document format test library and validation tool. Carried out in collaboration across the industry as a result of the DII forums, the Fraunhofer FOKUS project will help organizations and industry players determine whether documents have been developed based on the internationally standardized formats ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML) and ECMA-376 (Ecma Office Open XML). Making this determination will help organizations ensure that their users can easily access and exchange data between documents, which will help improve their overall efficiency. Microsoft is supporting these activities both as a development partner and through project funding.

"The introduction of open standards like ISO/IEC 29500 is the first step toward a new era of document interoperability, but we have no guarantee that any implementation of the standard is correct unless we develop a way to test its output," said Klaus-Peter Eckert, senior researcher at Fraunhofer FOKUS. "Creating these tools will not only ease the effective exchange of data today, it will also improve long-term benefits for data archiving."

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