Explaining Open Standards email attachements

Hugo Roy hugo at fsfe.org
Tue Mar 30 15:34:21 UTC 2010


I would like to publish that for Document Freedom day and I would like 
your feedback before as well as your propositions to make it a better 


= Send me attachments I can read, use open standards! =

There are many ways to share documents, files and data over the 
Internet. Among them, emails are often used to do so, because whoever 
has an email address can send and receive emails freely. People from one 
mail server[1] to another can communicate without any difficulty. Why is 
it working so simply? Because emails are designed to use a set of open 
standards[2], based on the Internet protocols.

However sometimes, people send attachments along with their emails, and 
it happens frequently that the attachments cannot be read by your 
correspondent. For example, many attached files are documents produced 
by word processors and they can be impossible to read correctly if you 
don't have the same word processor.

This is often the case when using proprietary word processors. These 
programs don't use open standards, but they use proprietary file 
formats[3] instead. In 2002, a campaign was started to put an end to 
Word attachments. However, this is also true for all kinds of documents 
and files: texts, spreadsheets, slides, videos, etc.

When you attach a file to an email, please make sure that your 
correspondent will be able to read your files correctly. It is a basic 
principle of courtesy. There is an easy way to make sure it is possible: 
use open standards. If you do so, your correspondent will have the 
possibility to choose which program he or she wants.

Moreover, by promoting open standards you will help everyone: sharing 
documents can be as easy as sending and receiving emails! If you receive 
an email using proprietary file formats, don't hesitate to share this 

Campaigns for Open Standards

    * Document Freedom Day
    * Play Ogg and rOgg On!

Organisations and Software supporting Open Standards

    * OpenOffice.org
    * VideoLan, the project making VLC
    * Free Software Foundation Europe support Open Standards


   1. ^ Mail servers transfer emails from one computer to another. For 
more information, you can read the Wikipedia
   2. ^ Open Standards are protocols and file formats that can be freely 
used and implemented, and are designed in an open process. For more 
information, see the Open Standards definition.
   3. ^ Microsoft Office by default save your files in the ".doc" format 
or the ".docx" format. If you share these documents with people using 
different word processors, it will not be working properly. Good 
alternatives for Microsoft Word are documents in .RTF or in .ODT (use 
the "Save As" feature)

  Hugo Roy			     im: hugo at jabber.fsfe.org
  French Coordinator		http://www.fsfe.org/about/roy

Free Software Foundation Europe works to create general understanding
and support for software freedom in politics, law and society-at-large.
For more information, see www.fsfe.org
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