Document Formats

There are document formats for practically every application in existence, but only a few major ones such as the OpenDocument Format (ODF), the Office Open XML format (DOCX), and the Portable Document Format (PDF).

Microsoft’s Open Office XML format, or “OOXML” is a format for representing word processing, spreadsheet, chart and presentation documents. OOXML documents are mainly XML files compressed in a ZIP package. The format has been approved as an ISO standard, and the most recent iteration was intended by Microsoft to replace the Office 2003 XML file format and earlier Office binary formats. It has since been taken under the stewardship of Ecma International. Microsoft has converters available to allow users of previous office versions to be able to open the latest OOXML files, i.e. Word “DOCX” files.

The OpenDocument format, or “ODF” is also a format for representing word processing, spreadsheet, chart and presentation documents, originally developed by Sun, and adopted by the Open Office XML committee of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) consortium. It is based on the XML format developed for the Office replacement suite, and its filename extensions are .odt (word processing), .ods (spreadsheet), .odp (presentation), .odg (graphics) and .odf (formula). Because it is freely available and implementable, it has been built into, Google Docs, NeoOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony and Corel Wordperfect Office.

The Portable Document Format, or “PDF” is a file format created by

Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. PDF is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system.[1]

Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout 2-D document (and, with Acrobat 3-D, embedded 3-D documents) that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2-D vector graphics which comprise the documents.

PDF is an open standard that was officially published on July 1, 2008 by the ISO as ISO 32000-1:2008.[2]


RAW image files are so named because they include all the unprocessed data directly from the sensor of a digital camera, and are hence not ready for editing for viewing without special software. RAW images are usually something only pro photographers or at least "prosumers" are concerned with, and are only output by DSLR-type cameras such as the Nikon D90 or the Canon 50D, but are also available in recent high-end compact “point and shoot” cameras such as the Nikon CoolPix P6000 or the Canon G10. RAW files are also large, perhaps twice the size of a high-quality JPEG file from the same camera.

Once you have a RAW file which is often called a “digital negative” because of its unprocessed state, you would normally “post-process” or “develop” it using a RAW converter program that allows precise adjustments to highlights, contrast, white balance, exposure, sharpness, noise-reduction and so forth, prior to exporting it as a JPEG or TIFF, for printing or publishing on the web. Photographers use RAW because it allows a higher degree of processing control compared to working directly on a JPEG, though it is quite possible to have your expensive DSLR output JPEG directly (many DSLRs can output both RAW and JPEG at the same time).

Post processing options include maker-proprietary software such as Nikon Capture, and, generalist programs such as Apple Aperture, Bibble Pro and Adobe Lightroom. When buying into a system like Apple Aperture, one has to note that there might be a lag time when a new camera with new RAW format comes out, until the software maker can catch up and incorporate that format into their software.

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Adobe Understanding RAW PDF
Open RAW - standards working group
Apple Aperture
Bibble Labs Bibble Pro
Adobe Lightroom


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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It was conceptualized and initially developed by UserLand’s Dave Winer in 1997, and is a mainly text-based format for delivering syndicated, dynamic web content to an RSS “feed reader.” A feed reader is an application that aggregates text RSS feeds into a single location, making them easier to keep up with and keep track of. You can view multiple RSS feeds simultaneously in your feed reader, helping you to stay informed. This as opposed to keeping track of many different and dynamically-changing Website structures.

Examples of feed readers include NetNewsWire, FeedReader, NewsGator or Amphetadesk for standalone applications and Google Reader or Bloglines for web-based applications. Examples of RSS-integrated applications include and Safari from Apple, and Outlook 2007 from Microsoft.

Once you decide on a feed reader, you just have to find blogs, photo-sharing sites and news sites that you want to keep up with. Sites often display an RSS icon (that says RSS, XML or RDF) for you to click on to access a feed, and modern Internet browsers often auto-detect feeds, displaying an RSS icon in the address bar when a feed is available.


Dave Winer’s RSS Site
RSS Version History at Harvard Law


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