Open standards in parliaments

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Open standards are a critical requirement in the parliamentary environment. Documents prepared in proprietary formats - that is formats that can only be managed with particular software or specific hardware from a few vendors - constrain the options available for using them, limit the capacity for meeting future requirements, and ultimately cost more money to maintain, because they will need to be periodically converted to newer standards. An example of this perpetual challenge is experienced daily by many people, as certain word processing files cannot be read by older versions of the software. If parliaments decide to publish their documentation in an open standard format, there is no need for constant conversion to different formats. Hence, the many benefits for long-term preservation. Moreover, in addition to generating benefits for preservation, and for searching and exchanging between systems, some open standards offer greater ease of portability of information and documentation over different channels including via websites or “Apps” (for use in popular tablet devices). One such standard is XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language).