CyberTech Rambler

April 17, 2008

OpenOffice.org’s OOXML bait-and-trap

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:03 pm

I do not like applications that bait-and-trap, even if the bait-and-trap’s goal is noble. That is why I blogged my displeasure with Apple’s read only approach for OOXML in iWorks and a similar approach by Google in GoogleDoc. I thought OpenOffice.org is above it and that it is the first application that will read and write OOXML so much so that I mentioned it in a blog post. It appears that OpenOffice.org is also following the bait-and-trap approach, i.e., reading OOXML but not writing it.

Regardless of excuse, i.e., in OpenOffice.org’s case “to help the [poor] users who by accident get hands on a document from Microsoft Office 2007.” (I think the author meant poor when he wrote pour), one should not set such a trap. What I would recommend to change this from a trap to a utility, as OpenOffice.org claims it to be, is to give user a fair warning by showing a dialog box saying that he can read but not write in OOXML. Of course, to ensure that OOXML is still a not a second class citizen but a partial first class citizen, user will have a tick box which, when selected, will not display this message anymore.

I am sure if you get OpenOffice.org variant from Novell, you will get OOXML read/write. However, as one insightful  German official point out, “It is not good enough if only Novell will offer it on Suse Linux.

This makes me wonder whether the “additional download and install ODF converter approach” said to be in the working for the next update of Microsoft Office, as blogged by Brian Jones is a more “honest” approach. In any case, the unilateral ceasefire declared by Brian Jones last year had not even happened. 😉

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