November 3, 2005

Support OpenDocument

The OpenDocument Format is hitting the headlines because of Massachusetts decision and an interesting petition to Microsoft.

I use OpenOffice and have done so quite actively for a couple of years, particularly for word processing and slide shows. But here I don't want to cover this very powerful application suite.

The OpenDocument format, in fact, is not simply the file format of OpenOffice 2. It is a document standard, formally OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications. This is opening up the doors to many other office suites (for example, KOffice) to support the format.

In the past weeks, the OpenDocument format has been hitting the headlines mostly because of the decision by Massachusetts to chose the OpenDocument standard as their standard for office suite data exchange. Needless to say Microsoft is strongly questioning it, but with very weak arguments. There is a very intersting (and very long) article on the topic by David A. Wheeler on the web site. Notice that the entire European Union is very close to adopt the same standard, probably after ISO ratifies it.

With the spreading of this format, only one player is pretending to ignore it, and that player is Microsoft. The reason should be obvious: they are making a ton of money with Office, mostly because they control the data formats used by most people on this planet. This is why an open and public format is strongly against their interest: they'll need to compete on features and price. But if things do change, they might end up adopting the open format. The OpenDocument Followship is running a petition to push Microsoft in this direction. If you like MS Office and want to use it natively with the OpenDocument format, you might as well sign it.



Support OpenDocument 

 Great entry Marco! I will start of by saying I am in
no way Anti-MS and that I am a heavy MS Office user. 
I think MS has done a great deal for technology both
directly and indirectly. Whether, it was they that
developed something or their festering of others to do
so.  I don't think that your point could be phrased or
made any better and I couldn’t agree with you more. 
With that said, I recently started using/testing Open
Office (I am EXTRMELY please at this point, there is a
little bulk resource wise, but I assume that will be
worked out).  I have been following the project for a
while but made a judgment call and decided to wait for
the ‘stable’ release 2.0 before jumping into it.  MS
Office is a great product, however it is getting far
too costly to deploy and maintain.  Prices are going
up, and business/people are being forced to do more
with less.  In most cases the average uses only uses a
very small percentage of the functionality any way. 
What are you actually getting for your money?  I am
glad there is another product making a footprint in
this market.  IMHO, competition generally drives
quality and stabilizes pricing.  Interoperability will
be vital.  Following all of the MS licensing and other
plans it seems they will gradually bring on their own
demise.  This wouldn’t occur overnight, but it is
getting to the point where people are forced to seek
alternatives.  This would be extremely unfortunate. 
Of course, change takes time.  Hopefully, Open Office
can make enough of an impact and live long enough, to
boost confidence and put a dent in the market share,
bringing things back to a reasonable level.
Comment by Brad on November 3, 14:58

Support OpenDocument 

So what do you think about the Office 2003 and 
Office 12 formats, especially where Office 12 is 
going to default to their .docx format? Isn't that 
kinda flying in the face of "Microsoft wants to 
control the document formats and keep them hidden" ?
Comment by Anthony Mills [] on November 3, 18:24

MS Office XML 

It is true that MS supports XML as a key format, but
this is a proprietary XML. You are not free to process
it without a licence (for example you cannot write a
GPL utility for this purpose). This is clearly
explained in the article I references. Moreover, MS is
free to change the format at will, which might cause
trouble in case you want to open and use those files
in 10 or 20 years.
Comment by Marco Cantù [] on November 4, 00:04

Support OpenDocument 

It'll be interesting to see where this all goes:
Comment by Brad on November 5, 12:19

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