Collaborate & Celebrate: The OPFs new Spreadsheets Preservation Project is officially underway!

The efforts of the Spreadsheet Validation and Checking project focus on new specifications and supporting tools for validating spreadsheets and highlighting archival risks. This is an area that the community as a whole has a strategic interest in advancing.

At the Open Preservation Foundation third Advisory Group in late May, the project’s collaborators signed a document to commit to sharing their expertise, funding, and time. Kaido Kivilaan (Estonian National Archives), Julie Allen (OPF), Asbjørn Skødt (Danish National Archives), Remco van Veenendaal (National Archives of the Netherlands), Lauri Leht (Estonian National Archives) and Carl Wilson (OPF).

The project builds on the legacy of the OPF Archives Interest Group (AIG), which concluded last year, producing a report on the significant properties of spreadsheets and the impact this has for long term preservation. Asbjørn Skødt of the Danish National Archives identified a gap in the results: that there is no available validator that can also detect issues of archival concern for spreadsheets.

The project has quickly grown as a result of collaboration between the Danish National Archives, The Open Preservation Foundation, National Archives of the Netherlands, and the Estonian National Archives. We at the OPF are thrilled to help develop and safeguard these efforts.

The purpose of the collaboration is to share expertise, funding, development and testing capabilities between the partners of the project, and at the conclusion of the project release the outcomes in free and open-source licenses.

‘We now have a draft specification that we can validate against,’ says Asbjørn Skødt of the Danish National Archives. ‘It defines  file format policies, guidelines and example software for spreadsheets in OOXML, ODF, CSV and static image file formats.’ 

Carl Wilson of the Open Preservation Foundation adds, ‘We are really happy about this, and invite everyone to review the draft. And if you have any suggestions for improvement, please log your issues in the GitHub repository.’

Currently, we are developing the alpha version of the ODF Validator, which will validate the OpenDocument Format standard version 1.3 and check compliance with spreadsheet file format policies. Completion of the project is expected for December 2023. However, there are possibilities for further cooperation to enhance the software or extend coverage to other OpenDocument formats. 

You can review the draft Spreadsheet Preservation Specification here. The OpenDocument Format Validator (OPF ODF Validator) can be viewed here. For more general information and queries please contact the OPF on [email protected].

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