I think this is huge

Story: ODF: The inevitable formatTotal Replies: 9
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Jul 26, 2007
4:06 PM EDT
Good article

this is something the IT industry should of done from the very beginning. have a standard document format so folks can stick with their favorite word processing program and upgrade (or not) knowing that they can still get to THEIR information.

I hope the ISO rectifies this by sticking with ODF and having just one standard and voting down microsoft's mathematically incorrect proprietary format.


Jul 26, 2007
4:29 PM EDT
I just wish free software folks would get more enthusiastically on the ODF bandwagon. Back in April, I attended a conference at which a panel with folks from Google, IBM, FSF, and Red Hat. I asked why there wasn't more excitement about ODF, and they seemed perplexed -- and we aren't talking dumb folk here -- one of the panelists was Chris DiBona. They appeared to equate ODF with OpenOffice, when they should be equating ODF with open document standard that allows easy manipulation of the data without any specific tool.

It is actually the vision people talked about in PC world (Windows, no less!!) before the advent of office suites. The desktop would be document-centric instead of program-centric. You would apply whatever program you needed to the document. A format like ODF makes the dream feasible. For that matter, you'd be amazed what you can do to ODF documents with nothing more than stylesheet-driven transformations.

Jul 26, 2007
7:54 PM EDT
I have to agree with you there dino, on the one hand we have Microsoft going gung ho twisting arms to get governments etc to adopt/support OOXML, and there is hardly anything, so far as I can tell by way of counter cavassing by the likes of IBM and the rest of the Open Docyument people.

Jul 26, 2007
8:29 PM EDT
You'd think the Google folks would get it. If I were addressing Goog I'd say:

You may have heard of this thing called the Internet, and on this Internet there are lots of documents in a format called HTML. HTML is not about a particular application like Mosaic or Netscape. HTML is a standard that allows companies to build neat tools like search engines and such.

Now ODF is not about a particular application that uses it like KOffice or OOo. I'd be willing to bet that some smart people will come up with a way to make money off this ODF thing.

Jul 26, 2007
8:52 PM EDT
Google does get it. Google Docs (docs.google.com) allows you to save text documents in "OpenOffice" format, which is ODT, and you can export a spreadsheet in ODS.

I just ran KWord in Slackware 12, and ODT is the default format. MS Word DOC format is also included -- I don't remember seeing that the last time I used KWord.

But back to Google Docs. They get it big time. I don't know what Microsoft has cooking as far as SaaS goes, but Google will probably beat them good. For me, all Google Docs needs is a helper app that allows it to print without the browser's header and footer, and I'd never need a "real" text editor or word processor again. Google Gears should eventually provide some offline functionality for browser-based apps. But as far as supporting ODF, Google seems right on point.

Jul 26, 2007
10:55 PM EDT
I do think people should stop referring to a file format by the application that created it. Calling it an 'Openoffice document' defeats the purpose somewhat. It creates the idea that a file can only be opened in one application. The mindset of the general populace needs to be changed. Microsoft are winning this way by creating things like Windows Media Audio and Video files etc. I also think .doc is an unfair file extension. Too general-sounding for something that's proprietary.

Jul 27, 2007
12:42 AM EDT
Quoting:Calling it an 'Openoffice document' defeats the purpose somewhat. It creates the idea that a file can only be opened in one application.
In OpenOffice.org's (v2.2.1) "Open File" dialog, the .odt extension is associated with "OpenDocument Text", while the .sxw extension is associated with "OpenOffice.org 1.0 Text Document". Ditto for the other .od* extensions. So OO.o already follows that convention.

Jul 27, 2007
3:09 AM EDT
>So OO.o already follows that convention.

It's OK (if inaccurate) for OpenOffice to do that. It would also be OK for Microsoft Word to do that if ODF were the native Word format. However, in general discussons about ODF, ODF is the format used by OpenOffice and others, not the OpenOffice format.

Jul 27, 2007
9:00 AM EDT
Good points, all. I really hope ODF gains some traction. Right now, whether we like it or not, MS Word DOC is the world's document file standard. I can understand MS going to .docx in their latest version of Word, but I think it's going to backfire on them. Instead of selling way more copies of Office, I think the incompatibility problems are just going to send more corporate customers into the arms of OpenOffice.

On another, related topic, I think there's an ODF translator for AbiWord, but I wonder if the developers are going to make it part of the actual application.

Jul 27, 2007
10:05 AM EDT
AbiWord should be called AbiWeird. I used to like it a lot because it was fast and simple, but then it didn't keep up with other word processors. Of course all this could be different now since it's been a couple years since I used it, but I quit using it because:

- No utf-8 support - It had its own weird printer dialog with practically no options, instead of using CUPS or whatever the system's printer subsystem was - bizarro copy-n-paste that drove me insane. Sometimes I could c&p between other apps, sometimes not, and I never did figure out the magic formula.

All modern document-editing apps need native ODF support, in my sweetly humble opinion.

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