Open Formats

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"An open format is a published specification for storing digital data, usually maintained by a non-proprietary standards organization, and free of legal restrictions on use. For example, an open format must be implementable by both proprietary and free and open source software, using the typical licenses used by each. In contrast to open formats, proprietary formats are controlled and defined by private interests. Open formats are a subset of open standards.[citation needed]

The primary goal of open formats is to guarantee long-term access to data without current or future uncertainty with regard to legal rights or technical specification. A common secondary goal of open formats is to enable competition, instead of allowing a vendor's control over a proprietary format to inhibit use of competing products. Governments have increasingly shown an interest in open format issues." (


Open Formats vs. Free Software and Open Source Software

"The relationship between open formats and free and open source software is frequently misunderstood. Many proprietary software products readily use open formats, and free and open source software can often use proprietary formats. For example, HTML, the familiar open format markup language of the World Wide Web, creates the foundation for proprietary web browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer as well as free and open source browsers such as Mozilla Firefox. Meanwhile,, the free and open source desktop office suite, can manipulate Microsoft's proprietary DOC format, as well as open formats such as OpenDocument. Finally, some companies have published specifications of their formats, making it possible to implement readers or writers for different platforms by different vendors, such as Adobe's PDF, and Microsoft's RTF. However, some proprietary formats are covered by some form of patent restrictions that may forbid free and open source implementations (at least under certain licenses common for them, such as the GNU General Public License). According to some critics, such formats inhibit competition." (


  • OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (for office documents and suites)
  • PDF (for documents)
  • LaTeX (a document markup language)
  • DVI (a page description language)
  • TXT (an unformatted text format)
  • HTML/XHTML (a markup language)
  • OpenEXR (an image format)
  • PNG (a raster image format)
  • SVG (a vector image format)
  • VRML/X3D (realtime 3D data formats)
  • FLAC (an audio format)
  • Ogg - Container for Vorbis, FLAC, Speex (audio formats) & Theora (a video format)
  • XML (a markup language)
  • ZIP and 7Z (data compression formats)

More Information

  1. Free File Formats
  2. Open Document Format