Open standards offer insight in how things are done, and also allow implementing that standard without fees.

Open Standards is a slightly fuzzy term (some authorities only use “Standard” if part of a legally enforceable process). Here we assume the “standards” documents are openly accessible and redistributable, but not necessarily modifiable without formal procedure. For example the W3C recommendations (XML, XSLT, …) are Open to access and redistribution but have a formal, closed, membership for their creation and a copyright which forbids modification. The IUPAC InChI has a closed membership for its creation but the source code representing the specification is openly accesible. Both have open discussion lists. CML also has a closed membership (the current authors) but is openly published and has Open Source implementations. The best example of an Open community creating an honoured standard is SAX where 100 members of the XML-DEV list [[the specification in a month]( created)]. This is difficult to achieve and the question of how a community can create an Open standard which can be protected from abuse is difficult.

In general a proprietary format, even if published, is not Open as there is no community process for its development; it can, in principle be modified by the owner at any stage. Open Standards do not mandate Open Source, though we strongly recommend it.

An essential complement to a Standard is a toolkit to test conformance and the Blue Obelisk will develop these. They depend on test cases for both validation and invalidation.


Programming Languages



Data Formats


Chemical Markup Language


W3C Standards