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osOpinion: Proposal: The Open Data Format Initiative

Jan 29, 2002, 17:59 (17 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Adam Barr)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"The problem is not limited to just Outlook Express. Most programs -- word processors, spreadsheets, databases -- save user data in a proprietary format. They tend to be similarly generous with importing and stingy with exporting. Many offer the option to save in a standard, publicly defined format, but often these do not preserve 100 percent of the formatting or data.

It's no mystery why every application wants to be a data sink; it's a competitive advantage to lock users into your proprietary format. But users are suffering, prevented from manipulating their own data as they see fit.

Worse, in the future, users may have access only to the data files, with no ability to run the program that originally created them. Programmers seeking to reverse-engineer the format of a particular application can use that application to save various pieces of data and observe the file that results."

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