Tag Archives: odf

ODF Defeats OOXML!

I became a fan of the OpenDocument Format when I was working on my Masters thesis in Computer Science, and needed to generate hundreds of report files in as Word and Powerpoint documents. Working on a combination of Linux and Windows machines, my best option was ODF… I could create OpenDocument files by outputting XML, graphics, and zipping them up, and then use OpenOffice to batch-convert them to Microsoft’s format. Since then I’ve followed the rise of ODF in some interested, and been curious about Microsoft’s uncharacteristic attempt to create a competitor format, OOXML.

Microsoft now seems to be conceeding that it backed the wrong horse. ODF support will be native in Microsoft Office from the next service pack on, while there’s no date for Office to support Microsoft’s own format:

Red Hat Summit panel: Who ‘won’ OOXML battle? | The Industry Standard
The Open Document Format (ODF) has benefited from the two-year battle over the ratification of Microsoft’s rival Open Office XML (OOXML) standard, which is native to its Office 2007 suite, Microsoft’s national technology officer said Thursday during a panel discussion at the Red Hat Summit in Boston.

ODF has clearly won,” said Stuart McKee, referring to Microsoft’s recent announcement that it would begin natively supporting ODF in Office next year and join the technical committee overseeing the next version of the format.

“We sell software for a living. The ability to implement ODF in the middle of our ship cycle was just not possible,” he said. “We couldn’t do that during the release of Office 2007. We’re looking forward and committed to doing more than [ODF-to-OOXML] translators.”

Panelist Douglas Johnson, an official involved with corporate standards at Sun Microsystems, said the attention caused by the debate has enabled other office-suite products to be competitive.

“The office-suite market has been ruled by one dominant player after another, but those markets were never governed by good open standards practices,” he said. “What has happened is that this dominant-player market has actually been upset and opened to competition that didn’t exist before.” Sun’s StarOffice product uses ODF.

The real winner is consumers. Once Microsoft Office natively supports ODF (meaning you can load OpenDocuments through File | Open, save them through File | Save, etc.), the same standard office format will be supported by OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, and Google Docs. This means that consumers will be able to use the productivity suite that meets there needs, and not be locked-in by a technical file format that is special to one company or the other.

The Challenges of OpenOffice, the Rise of OpenDocument

News today that KDE’s open source “KOffice” will be coming to Windows next year. The situation continues to get more complex for OpenOffice, which saw forks to both IBM Lotus Symphony and Go-OO in the past few weeks. The future of OpenOffice.org as the premier open-source office productivity distribution may be in doubt.

But things can’t be better for OpenDocument, the open standard for sharing information that was pioneered by OpenOffice and is the default format of OpenOffice, KOffice, Go-OO, and Symphony. By standardizing on what a document is, the artificial monopolies around word processors, spread sheets, and presentations are torn down, allowing the competition to center around what-is-best and not merely what-was-possible.

I first fell in love with an early version of OpenDocument while working on my computer science thesis, taught it in classes to college seniors, and even use it to save and export from GoogleDocs. Whatever the fate of OpenOffice.org itself, the ISO and OASIS standard OpenDocument format that it pioneered is the future of infoworker data interchange.

Japan helps reduce the cost of Information Connectivity

Props to Japan for being the first country in asia to adopt the OpenDocumentFormat. Part of globalization is work on building global public goods, that everyone can benefit from. The OpenDocument format is an example of such a good, because more people will be able to access government information and services without paying rents to Microsoft.

Good show!