Pros of Open Document Formats
First off, there’s a feel good factor that we should be cultivating for those of us who switch to open data formats. Just like our culture is starting to promote the feel good factor associated with a, “green attitude,” towards the environment, so should people feel like they are making a difference when using open standards. A society that promotes restricting access to information is a society doomed to social stratification, ignorance and quick demise. Open data formats of all types should be embraced, and adopting their use should be encouraged, as they help make information available to all, a noble endeavor.
Aside from the warm fuzzy feelings however, you are also, as a consumer, making a stand against the large software publishers with whom you have invested time and money in attuning yourself to their product line. No longer will you accept new versions of products that are less feature-full and more hackjob-ish; that simply change the interface color or rearrange the menus. You are no longer locked into a proprietary data format so you do not need to worry about losing access to your data if you do not pay for something you do not want. Instead, you are able to take your data with you to greener pastures and better products, forcing publishers to innovate or perish. Without your data as a hostage, the software industry is forced to cater more towards consumer needs and consumers are given freedom of choice.
Finally, with open data formats, programmers are given the opportunity to expand the suite of applications that utilize the format and you may not have to wait for the marketers to say the market is ready for niche applications? What am I talking about? Well, why have to pay money to create a document on your computer, and then pay again to read that document on your phone? If the data format is open, then individuals are free (if they are capable) to create applications themselves to use that data. Now the open source community can create a myriad of applications that give you access to your documents no matter what device you are on, all because they don’t have to pay a royalty fee to the proprietary-format license holder.