Open Formats

AusGOAL recommends the use of 'open formats'.  An open format is a specification for storing and manipulating content, that is usually maintained by a standards organisation.  In contrast, a proprietary format is usually maintained by a company, with a view to exploiting the format by incorporating it into other products they sell, such as software.  Open formats are critical to the effectiveness of the 'open access' concept. Information and data published using an open format ensures that users, regardless of their operating system or platform will be able to access information.  

Some Examples of Open Formats

 

Multimedia

  • JPEG 2000 – an image format standardised by ISO/IEC
  • Ogg, container for VorbisFLACSpeex (audio formats) & Theora (a video format)
  • PNG – a raster image format standardised by ISO/IEC
  • SVG – a vector image format standardised by W3C
  • VRML/X3D – real time 3D data formats standardised by ISO/IEC

Text

  • ASCII - a plain text file
  • Office Open XML - a formatted text format
  • OpenDocument v1.0 - a formatted text format
  • PDF - open standard for documents exchange. PDF started as a proprietary standard, but was later submitted through standardisation
  • UTF-8 - text encoding with support for all common languages and scripts

Geospatial

  • KML - KML started as a proprietary standard, but was later submitted through standardisation with the Open Geospatial Consortium
  • WMS -  Web Map Service - a protocol that allows georeferenced map images to be served over the Internet
  • WFS - Web Feature Service - Allows requests for geograhical features to be drawn across the Internet 

Archiving and compression

  • tar - for archiving
  • ZIP - for both archiving and compression; the base format is in the public domain, but newer versions have some patented features

Other