Explaining Open Standards email attachements

Hugo Roy hugo at fsfe.org
Wed Mar 31 17:18:21 UTC 2010


A new version is available at:

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 because people can 
communicate from one mail server1 to another without any difficulty. Why 
does it work so simply? Because emails are designed to use a set of open 
standards2, 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 the 
recipients. For example, many attached files are documents produced by 
word processors and it can be impossible to read them correctly if you 
do not have the same word processor. Many proprietary word processors 
use proprietary file formats3. In 2002, a campaign was started to put an 
end to Word attachments. But the same is 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. And 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. Open standards 
guarantee sustainability and interoperability for your data, making sure 
you will be able to access them in the future, even with another 
software, on another platform or operating system.

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 
page and explain why it is important to use Open Standards.

Campaigns for Open Standards

    * Document Freedom Day
    * Play Ogg and rOgg On!

On Document Freedom Day, the FSF started a campaign to call on computer 
users to start politely rejecting proprietary attachments.

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 check 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 work properly. Good alternatives 
for Microsoft Word are documents in .RTF or in .ODT (use the "Save As" 

  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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