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Released: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.15 XML File Format

File Format Specification and General Information

Note:The information provided on this page is related to the XML file format used by 1.0 only. Please visit the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee web pages for information regarding the OASIS OpenDocument file format used by 2.0.


Our mission is to create an open and ubiquitous XML-based file format for office documents and to provide an open reference implementation for this format.

Core Requirements (these items are absolutely required)

  1. The file format must be capable of being used as an office program's native file format. The format must be "non-lossy" and must support (at least) the full capability of a StarOffice/OpenOffice document. The format is likely to be used for document interchange but that use alone is not enough.
  2. Structured content should make use of XML's structuring capabilities and be represented in terms of XML elements and attributes.
  3. The file format must be fully documented and have no "secret" features.
  4. OpenOffice must be the reference implementation for this file format.

Core Goals (these items are highly desired)

  1. The file format should be developed in such a way that it will be accepted by the community and can be placed under community control for future development and format evolution.
  2. The file formats should be suitable for all office types: text processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, charting, and math.
  3. The file formats should reuse portions of each other as much as possible (so for example a spreadsheet table definition can work also as a text processing table definition).

OASIS File Format Standardization

XML file formats allow users to regain ownership to his/her own data, by allowing access and manipulation of office documents by arbitrary tools which support the file format. To make such capability ubiquitous, we believe it is necessary to standardize file formats. Thus, we have contributed the XML File Format to OASIS. The further development of the format now takes place in the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee.

General Information on the XML File Format

The definition of the XML File Format has been developed through The resulting reference material, such as the specification and DTD may be downloaded here: XML File Format Specification
Document Summary Format
XML File Format Specification This documents defines the XML file format used It serves as reference for the format. PDF, ca. 1.5MB
XML File Format DTD The document type definition provides a handy reference against which all XML files can be validated against. text, ca. 200KB

Some supplementary information and resources on the XML File Format are available as well:

General Information on the Format
Document Summary Format
xmloff FAQ The FAQ list some frequently asked question, together with answers from the xmloff development team. HTML
XML Advantages This page explains our motivation for using an XML based file format. It lists advantages of our new file format, and discusses how these will benefit different groups of users. HTML
Package Format Rationale This document explains the rationale behind the ZIP-based package format. The decision was made after an elaborate discussion on the XML dev mailing list, whose archive can be consulted for additional detail. HTML
XML-based filters

Filters and transformations making use of the OpenDocument or XML File Formats.

Uses and Applications

Information on how to make use of the OASIS OpenDocument and XML File Format outside of the application.


Books, articles, reports and research documents covering the OpenDocument and XML file formats.


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