CyberTech Rambler

July 25, 2006

Office 2007 ODf Open/Save is technically “Import/Export”, not “Native Support”, but may just be good enough for Massachusett

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:23 pm

Microsoft’s Stephen McGibbon is upset (article is in Dutch, but you can babelfish “translate webpage” it ) over Groklaw’s and Rob Weir’s comments on Office 2007’s support of Open Document Format.

The only accussation that (barely) holds water is that PJ of Groklaw should had mentioned that Rob Weir is working for IBM, a supporter of ODF. I am quite suprise that PJ forgotten to mention it, given her usually high quality writing. Other than that, a cursory analysis will show that PJ wants “native support”, something that a lot of other people, Massachusetts for example, also ask for but Gibbon is simply discussing about “basic” support for ODF. Two different goals with similar, but distinct effect.

McGibbon’s webpost of how ODF support might look like in Office 2007 demonstrates that ODF is put into a category of its own and not part of the “Save As”. Is this distinction important? Yes. Crucially, if you click “Ctrl-S” or select File->Save, you cannot save as ODF. Rather, you have to explicitly tell Office 2007 to save in ODF. It is more like an “Import/Export” function. McGibbon’s arguement that ODF is treated the same as XPS (Microsoft’s rival to PDF) and PDF shows that they choose to put them in the same category when they are, at present, not. XPS, as far as I can tell, and PDF are biased extremely heavily as document output format only, unlike ODF which is a working format for Office documents.

In my view, this fails “Native Support” tests. However, it might just be good enough for Massachusett.

There is one thing I like about the screen mockout of ODF read/write function. It is easy to spot. However, I will trade this for native support anytime, anyday.

As discuss in a previous post, an educated guess suggests that it is possible to save natively in ODF. It is the question of openning up this API. In fact, I even went on to suggest that to protect Microsoft’s IP, Office can provide the document data as OpenXML and requires ODF and other data format converter to supply data s OpenXML. This will fit perfectly into “native support” request of any tender/contract and remove any accusation of Microsoft treating others as “second class citizen”. My babelfish translation is a bit off, but the end of the article seems to suggest that one can write directly from ODF to the Office Object Model, i.e., writing it directly into Office native representation of the document, suggesting my suggestion of using OpenXML as intermediary is moot. This also fits what Brian Jones said about hijacking “Save Events” as when you hijack this event to provide your own “save”, you will have to read and understand Office native representation. The point of my post is that the need to play rough and “hijack” events is a higher hoop to jump through. Hijacking “Save Events” this way is a brute-force crack and does not play nice with other components of Office. Users is likely to believe that their office 2007 is behaving strangely It is not really necessary in the light that “Save” to other inferior formats is already provided. I do presuppose that an equivalent “Open Event” is available for hijack.

One other thing, Brian Jones finally clear up a fuzzy area about ODF support in other office product in this blog entry. Microsoft, so far, only promise a OpenXML converters for older office products. Reading between the lines suggest that one will have to run the translator separately from older Office products.

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