For the purposes of this list, open standards are those which fulfill our definition.
Some widely use examples.
- eXtensible Markup Language: XML for efficiently transferring and validating structured data
- HyperText Markup Language: HTML - currently on version 5, managed by the World Wide Web Consortium
- Cascading Style Sheets: CSS - currently on version 3, also managed by the World Wide Web Consortium
- Portable Document Format: PDF, initially created by Adobe, but made a vendor-neutral, royalty-free open standard
- Open Document Format: ODT (text documents), ODS (spreadsheets), ODP (presentations), ODG (graphics/vector drawings)
- Portable Network Graphics: PNG (raster images)
- Unysis' Graphics Interchange Format, better known as GIF: lossy fixed colour-map raster images, assumed by many to be an open standard, but users have been accused of patent infringement by Unisys. The patents have now expired, allowing it to become an open standard, but the patent controversy spurred on the development of the technically superior PNG open standard.
- Scalable Vector Graphics: SVG (vector graphics)
- Web Real-Time Communications: WebRTC - encrypted point-to-point audio and video conferencing, supported by modern web browsers
- HyperText Transfer Protocol: HTTP (plain text) and HTTPS (secure, encrypted) protocol for making structures requests for content on the web, among other things.
- OGG Vorbis and Theora: lossy compression codecs for audio and video content respectively
- Free Lossless Audio Codec: FLAC for lossless audio compression
The UK government, when adopting its open standards mandate, selected a set of open standards for common software domains.
There are a number of well known, widely used formats which we do not consider to fulfill the necessary criteria to be "open standards" despite the fact that most people assume them to be open standards. In many cases, commercial entities with vested interests actively promote these as open standards even though, for all practical purposes, they are not.
For example, some are encumbered by patents and/or require royalty payments to implement. Others, though accepted by standards bodies like ISO, are still unilaterally controlled by a single vendor. Still others are used to describe software products which do not completely comply with the strict standard specification, instead conforming to a "transitional" or non-compliant version of the standard. Examples of fauxpen standards include:
- Microsoft's "Office Open XML" format family (also known as OOXML or, misleadingly, as "Open XML"): DOCX (text documents), XLSX (spreadsheets), PPTX (presentations), DOTX (templates) - no version of MS Office currently provides files which are fully compliant with the format. Moreover, though complex arrangements, MS can change this horrendously complex and arcane standard unilaterally, meaning it does not meet with our minimum requirements for an open standard.
- Fraunhofer Institute's MP3 format: music files, lossy compression - still patent encumbered in the US. Update: turns out the patents have now expired.
Proprietary (Closed) Standards
These are standards which are unilaterally controlled by a single entity, usually a multinational US-based corporation.
- Adobe's Creative Suite default file formats: PSD and AI
- Adobe's Flash: a "rich content" framework for the web which was ubiquitous as a web-browser plug-in to provide rich media like videos and interactive maps until similar functionality was introduced in the HTML5 open standard, and Apple (for its own strategic reasons) chose not to allow Flash to run on its iOS devices (iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.), effectively killing it in the marketplace.
- Microsoft's Office legacy formats: DOC (text documents), XLS (spreadsheets), PPT (presentations), MDB (Access "database" files)
- Microsoft's Silverlight "rich content" framework for the World Wide Web, competing with Adobe's Flash: note, this is a poster child for the fate of businesses who choose to adopt a proprietary (closed) standards on which to base their independent software products. Microsoft "deprecated" Silverlight in favour of the open standard HTML5 due, largely, to market resistance to its adoption.
- Microsoft's Windows Media Player Audio and Video formats: WMP and WMV.
- RealNetwork's RealPlayer formats for audio and video
- Apple's QuickTime formats for audio and video compression
- Apple's ALAC and AAC lossless and lossy audio compression codecs and associated formats
- AutoDesk's AutoCAD format: DWG
- ESRI Shapefiles for representing GIS data