CyberTech Rambler

May 6, 2009

Microsoft ODF plugin for MSOffice

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:39 pm

Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Office 2007. I thought only we pro-ODF camp is waiting for ODF support in Office, but it appears that a few other news commentators are also interested. That is, however, not the point for this post.

Now that it is out, people are taking it for a test drive. On one side, Dough Mahugh is demonstrating how good the support for ODF Text document is,. On the other, PJ is blushing because the formatting is not preserved. The usual suspect, Rob Weir, did a comparison on “interoperable” characteristic of Spreadsheet and not only him, but me do not like the results.

What I have problems reconciling is, why the totally opposite view on the same product? That is after taking into account the obvious bias of Mahugh on one hand and PJ/Weir on the other hand.

With PJ and Mchugh, I think I see the difference. PJ re-save an existing Word document into ODF, but Mahugh save it in ODF without saving into Word document first. Now you and I would not had expected any difference, but it appears it does. Not acceptable in the long run but let’s not forget this is Microsoft first attempt, and as with any first attempt, you expects teething problems. I am prepare to put this down as teething problem

What is not teething problems, but unacceptably bad is the school boy error Microsoft did with translating SpreadSheet formula, using commas when they should had used semicolons in formulas, as pointed out by Dobbo in PJ’s posting.  It is so fundamental and should had been caught early on in the development process. This tells me that either Microsoft is sloppy on testing, or they did not bother doing any test at all. Arguing that ODF does not have a spec on formula, for this particular case, does not work for me. Either you store the last known value in place of the formula, as Microsoft seems to do on some cases, or you translate it correctly. Mixture of both is even more dangerous than doing either on its own.

Rob Weir complains that ODF Spreadsheet support for MSOffice is probably the worst. I am willing to put this down to teething problem, since this is after all, version 1. I will, however, criticise Microsoft for bad quality control. Quality control means testing against other products and Microsoft obviously failed to do it here. And I will warn Microsoft against using this implementation of ODF support this time round to argue that ODF simply cannot represent everything MSOffice can the way MSOffice own format can. Your showdy implementation is at fault, not ODF.

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