It is not pleasant to complete a project in your format of choice, only to discover it does not comply with a sanctioned formatting standard.
With this frustration in mind, the OpenDocument Fellowship (ODF) brings us the ODF Validator, a simple tool you can use to verify whether your document complies with its formatting standards. Yes, these days even compliance can be solved with a widget.XML-based ODF has come a long way. Having gained ECM support with a head-nod from Alfresco and, more recently, approval as an OASIS standard, the flexible format is an increasingly popular choice among Microsoft Office and Open Office users.
Much like the W3C HTML validation service, recently cited in SEO and CMS Best Practices During Deployment (2), the ODF Validator reads an uploaded file to check for formatting discrepancies. After a short processing phase it informs users of non-conformity, emits vague warnings (ex: "Not a violation of the specification but may indicate problems" -- used if the file meets specifications but lacks recommended components like mimetypes) or acknowledges compliance.
The Validator operates on the Mozilla Application Framework, a short-term option that ODF may exchange for a flamework that enables feature-complete ODF rendering in a working 2.0 version. At present Windows, Mac and Linux platforms are supported, and additional downloads need not be made.
Text documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be uploaded and checked for compliance. Drawings, including charts, cannot, but are slated for inclusion in the future. Some page layout features, like multiple column layout, remain unsupported, as well as vector graphics.
Amazingly, the Validator is self-contained. Users need not download additional software and the tool uploads files directly onto its server -- which, the site assures, takes privacy very seriously.
Support for the service is as good as can be expected, considering it was propped up as a quick response to a continuous problem. ODF is planning an update soon.
The Validator was written by Alex Hudson and is part of the ODF Tools project. Cyclone3 provides the Web service.
OpenDocument Fellowship a global organization of volunteers. Its purpose is to promote the use and development of the OpenDocument Format. Read more about them at the ODF website or start playing with ODF Validator now.