Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 10th Jul 2007 18:06 UTC, submitted by Flatline
Features, Office Under the name Sun ODF Plug-in for Microsoft Office, Sun has released its import/export filter for the OpenDocument format, which the ISO has recognized as a standard, for versions 2000, XP, and 2003 of Microsoft's Office suite; the plug-in can be downloaded via our software repository. The extension allows users of MS Office to read and create text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the free OpenOffice suite and its commercial version called StarOffice.
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makes me think
by yanik on Tue 10th Jul 2007 18:56 UTC
yanik
Member since:
2005-07-13

How does one promote ODF at work?

I work at "Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec" (National library and Archives of Quebec) and everyone works with MS Word/Excel.

We're about +/-850 employees.

Of course I don't think we could switch to OpenOffice just yet, but we might start with ODF.

I would need some numbers, propaganda, a plan, some promotional material or something. Is there such thing available?

Reply Score: 5

RE: makes me think
by archiesteel on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:27 UTC in reply to "makes me think"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

As a regular user of "la Grande Bibliothèque" (one of the nicest public library I've been to, if you ask me), I second that motion!

Reply Score: 5

RE: makes me think
by FunkyELF on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:30 UTC in reply to "makes me think"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

I would need some numbers, propaganda, a plan, some promotional material or something.

You would also need a reason.

This reminds me of something I read recently about switching parents / grandparents to Linux. You shouldn't just do it because you can. If there is a benefit and it is worth the cost of switching (retraining users) then go for it...otherwise keep paying the MS tax.

I loaded Open Office on my girlfriend's computer. She used it a couple of times to update her resume and other things with existing documents. Then it came time to create a letter of resignation she wanted to use MS Word.

I asked her once why she wanted it. She wanted it because it had templates. I didn't sit there and interrogate her about why she needed it or try to tell her to go and Google search how to get some OOO templates, I just loaded MS Office on there for her.

From my experience, OOO is a free implementation of crappy, boated software. It isn't any better than Office. For interoperability, if there is a quirk or bug in Office, its there in OOO too. Kinda stupid.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: makes me think
by archiesteel on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:43 UTC in reply to "RE: makes me think"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Since this is a public organization (part of the government of Quebec) there is a strong incentive to use a free, multi-platform file format, and not be tied to a particular vendor.

In addition to that, "not paying the MS tax" makes sense when it's our tax dollars that serve to buy all of those MS Office licenses. I would rather they buy more books with the money...

As for switching parents/grandparents to Linux, there are other benefits, such as no need to run resource-hungry anti-virus/spyware programs, having useful desktop effects without needing to upgrade to a costly/bloated new version of Windows, etc. - but that's a different discussion altogether, and quite off-topic.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: makes me think
by kaiwai on Wed 11th Jul 2007 00:35 UTC in reply to "RE: makes me think"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

You would also need a reason.


Since the original poster works for a public archive institution, it would be in their best interests to ensure that what they keep is stored in a format which is/can be accessible regardless of the platform it is being viewed on - future proofing their stored information so that it isn't at the mercy of a single software vendor.

This reminds me of something I read recently about switching parents / grandparents to Linux. You shouldn't just do it because you can. If there is a benefit and it is worth the cost of switching (retraining users) then go for it...otherwise keep paying the MS tax.


Well, the 'MS Tax' is a bit of a stretch of the truth; given that the vast majority get Windows as part of their computer purchase, and given how pathetic the difference in price between a Windows and Linux machine, it can't even be compard.

Sure, I could purchase Linux laptop, but it is pathetic in terms of hardwar specifications. I could never get a laptop of the same level of specifications which I am running right now, but instead with Linux.

Even for those who choose to go the Linux route instead of upgrading to Vista from XP are going to be disappointed. Although their main hardware is supported, its still got a long way before it starts to support devices such as MiniDisc players and so forth.

Oh, and before you try to 'pass the blame' - end users don't care whose fault it is, they just want it fixed/supported.

I loaded Open Office on my girlfriend's computer. She used it a couple of times to update her resume and other things with existing documents. Then it came time to create a letter of resignation she wanted to use MS Word.

I asked her once why she wanted it. She wanted it because it had templates. I didn't sit there and interrogate her about why she needed it or try to tell her to go and Google search how to get some OOO templates, I just loaded MS Office on there for her.


One could argue that if she wanted templates, why didn't she just download and install StarOffice which includes such a template?

From my experience, OOO is a free implementation of crappy, boated software. It isn't any better than Office. For interoperability, if there is a quirk or bug in Office, its there in OOO too. Kinda stupid.


Well, its an opensource project. Its funny how I find people who bash Sun ignore the fact that the vast majority of the hardwork done on OpenOffice.org is done by them. Linux vendors? done sweet bugger all in terms of improving it. I'd be confident to say that at best, Novell is the only vendor who actually contributes anything substantial to the project - outside of Sun.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: makes me think
by PlatformAgnostic on Wed 11th Jul 2007 05:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: makes me think"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

The story you always hear about this is that the OOo code base is so scary and old that you really do have to pay people a lot to be willing to get up to speed on it and make changes. The OSS office community really will start existing when software like KOffice becomes more capable and can start replacing OOo as the primary Open source productivity suite. This may not happen fast enough, since OOo has been taking more mindshare than it deserves.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: makes me think
by biteydog on Wed 11th Jul 2007 11:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: makes me think"
biteydog Member since:
2005-10-06

...given how pathetic the difference in price between a Windows and Linux machine, it can't even be compard...

I dunno - when you are dealing with small business people £100/$200 can be quite a lot to them (my usual supplier's price for an OEM XPpro/Vista-business) considering the low price of hardware nowadays - I'm talking basic, secretarial type desktop machines. With laptops it's a bit different, unless they like one from that range (not particularly nice) they are stuck with paying. This is largely irrelevant of course, because all but one of my clients uses XP anyway.

Its funny how I find people who bash Sun ignore the fact that the vast majority of the hardwork done on OpenOffice.org is done by them.

Surely the "bloated codebase" (I am not a particular fan of OO.o myself, but have nothing against Sun) is not down to them, or any OSS developers, but due to the codebase they inherited when they first bought StarOffice in 1999(?) - StarOffice5.1 was truly awful IMHO. Maybe they should have gone the Mozilla/Netscape route and built it anew from scratch - but it would have rather delayed the rollout. It was not helped by the added implementation of features in Java (logical enough for Sun) at a time when machines were not really fast enough to run Java at a respectable speed.
And no, I'm not bashing Java, I use it myself, but speed was never one of its vitues.

Reply Score: 1

RE: makes me think
by beer on Tue 10th Jul 2007 20:15 UTC in reply to "makes me think"
beer Member since:
2005-11-12

I "promote" ODF the simple ways: I refuse to open .doc files when I resive those becouse I dont wonna buy MS office suite and that is the best tool to open those files.

And when I send I always send ODF files with 1 link: to openoffice homepage

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: makes me think
by sappyvcv on Tue 10th Jul 2007 20:36 UTC in reply to "RE: makes me think"
sappyvcv Member since:
2005-07-06

You wouldn't get far in the business world.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: makes me think
by chemical_scum on Tue 10th Jul 2007 23:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: makes me think"
chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

You wouldn't get far in the business world.

Yes for doc files - but at the moment there is a "window" of opportunity of sending back any OOXML documents that you get sent by some stupid bs - pointing out as far as your concerned it is an unsupported format.

At the moment no one in my department has Office 2007. Personally I am looking forward to when our company upgrades to Lotus Notes 8 client and I have a good excuse to send everyone internally only ODF files.

I never send doc files out of the company anyway, only pdf's.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: makes me think
by Moochman on Wed 11th Jul 2007 02:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: makes me think"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

The grandparent poster was however referring to .doc files, which is guaranteed to make him look like a certified ass to just about everyone in e-mail contact with him.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: makes me think
by Ford Prefect on Tue 10th Jul 2007 20:39 UTC in reply to "RE: makes me think"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

You force others to install a large software package just to read your content? I wouldn't do that, even if it's free.

You should use plain text, RTF or PDF to send your documents.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: makes me think
by Constantine XVI on Wed 11th Jul 2007 00:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: makes me think"
Constantine XVI Member since:
2006-11-02

Or you could just tell them to download the 30mb (not much in today's broadband-ified world) plugin for their existing suite and be able to speak ODF in MSO

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: makes me think
by Moochman on Wed 11th Jul 2007 02:47 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: makes me think"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, that is after all what this article is all about. Thanks for bringing some logic to the discussion.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: makes me think
by mrasool on Wed 11th Jul 2007 13:34 UTC in reply to "RE: makes me think"
mrasool Member since:
2007-05-28

I "promote" ODF the simple ways: I refuse to open .doc files when I resive those becouse I dont wonna buy MS office suite and that is the best tool to open those files.

And when I send I always send ODF files with 1 link: to openoffice homepage


I do the same and do one better. I do open the files, convert them all to ODF and send it back to the author with an exported PDF file as well.

I point them to links and if they have do not have a fast internet connection, I send them them a CD with OpenOffice on it.

Reply Score: 1

Good move
by Punktyras on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:32 UTC
Punktyras
Member since:
2006-01-07

Direct link to plugin download (for those not speaking Deutch/German):
https://sdlc5e.sun.com:443/ECom/EComActionServlet;jsessionid=81A6946...

This link should be included within all Open Format documents, when sending them to those who are not aware of nonMS world.

Reply Score: 3

v fake hope
by bedo on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:47 UTC
RE: fake hope
by archiesteel on Tue 10th Jul 2007 19:50 UTC in reply to "fake hope"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

You should try it before talking; supposedly, it works quite well.

Reply Score: 5

RE: fake hope
by WarpKat on Tue 10th Jul 2007 21:24 UTC in reply to "fake hope"
WarpKat Member since:
2006-02-06

A few things:

1. How does it give fake hope? Is it because Sun has released it for the purposes of people using ODF or do you think there is some nefarious cause here?

2. You can't expect a conversion to work 100% of the time - especially one of this significant magnitude. Nobody knows 100% of the internals of MS Office formats nor does anyone WANT to know - the specs are thick just for one of the file formats. It's not like an 'image' where you can transcode one to the other without loss.

3. Why would you deem it useless? What exactly defines an 'important document' to you isn't exactly important to someone else. To me, a document with names, numbers and perhaps passwords is more important than a spreadsheet I know I can recreate.

Fake hope? No.

100% solution? Of course not.

A good college try that has a fair chance of success?

Absolutely.

Reply Score: 3

RE: fake hope
by g2devi on Tue 10th Jul 2007 22:39 UTC in reply to "fake hope"
g2devi Member since:
2005-07-09

Not necessarily. Conversion is often a lossy process. If you convert AAC to MP3, your sound quality will degrade, but if you start with the original WAV file, you can export to to AAC and MP3 with equal quality. More specifically, anyone who saves a word document and opens it up on a different computer with a different printer, fonts, and other environment knows that it doesn't always look 100% the same. The reason is that Word doesn't save its complete environment in the DOC file and thus has to recreated something "close enough" in your new computer. Since the converter doesn't have access to this missing information, it has to make guesses. The ODF exporter, however, wouldn't have to and so it should be more accurate.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: fake hope
by bedo on Wed 11th Jul 2007 02:18 UTC in reply to "RE: fake hope"
bedo Member since:
2006-01-03

I really feel sorry for you guys for not getting my point.

I wish this plugin is THE SOLUTION. but it does not work with the word documents I deal with on daily basis, and I'm pretty sure it won't work for that Canadian library the guy mentioned earlier.

if you try it for yourself, you'll notice that it will not work on most business word documents.

In real business environment, you don't accept half-working solutions. You'll only use a solid and reliable solution. Which not the case in this plugin.


The best solution to convert old documents is to do it manually, using cut and past methods.


it's pathetic how some readers rate my comment negatively just because they don't agree with my point. It just shows how pathetic those readers are. Probably their high point of the day is the satisfaction of rating someone's comment negatively...

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: fake hope
by Moochman on Wed 11th Jul 2007 02:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: fake hope"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

The best solution to convert old documents is to do it manually, using cut and past methods.

Maybe on REALLY complex documents that just totally got f%$@ed up in the process, but in my experience for the average documents I deal with (essays, letters, etc, and yes I even tried a table) the level of preservation of formatting that this plugin provides is FAR preferable to having to recreate all of the formatting via cut-and-paste. YMMV.

Edited 2007-07-11 03:00

Reply Score: 3

RE: fake hope
by bedo on Tue 10th Jul 2007 21:54 UTC
bedo
Member since:
2006-01-03

ok, so I tried the plugin using word 2002.

it works for simple documents who has simple formating such as bunch of paragraphs and little alignment.

it fails miserably on a document with couple tables. nothing fancy, just two tables. It does not only fail, it actually tells me that I'll lose some formating if I use ODT. But, when I click YES. do the conversion regardless; it saves nothing, there's no file written to the disk. Even though I just clicked yes and instructed the plugin to do the conversion. it seems like a bug in the plugin causing it to choke on a document with two tables.

Why fake hope:
because now proponents of MS office can say; hey people can use MS office, and pick whatever format they like, including ODT if they wish, using the plugin. Which is not true, ODT plugin does not work for real word documents; it only works on simple documents with as little format as RTF documnets. Defying the purpose of using a powerful word processor. If I can only use simple format such as RTF with the ODT plugin. I'd rather use RTF an editor instead.


Why useless:
because as I mentioned earlier, from my recent experience with the plugin. the plugin only works with simple documents, so it's useless, because I'll just use an RTF editor. Why bother with a plugin.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: fake hope
by MollyC on Tue 10th Jul 2007 23:42 UTC in reply to "RE: fake hope"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

I think that the Microsoft-sponsored ODF plungin will be better for the following reason:

The Microsoft-sponsored plugin converts between ODF and OOXML, which are both publicly spec'ed. So when loading an ODF document in Word, the plugin converts ODF to OOXML and feeds Word the OOXML. When using Word to save an ODF file, Word saves OOXML and the converter converts it to ODF. (This works with Word 2k7, and earlier versions of Word that have the OOXML plugin installed.) Theoretically, this should result in "perfect" conversion (different featuresets notwithstanding), since OOXML and ODF are publicly spec'ed. In practice it won't be perfect, but at least its possible in theory.

On the other hand, it's my understanding that Sun's tool is based on the .doc/xls/ppt compatibility code of StarOffice/OO.o. That is, it converts between ODF and Sun's best guess as to Office's binary format. Any incompatibilities between StarOffice/OO.o and MS's binary formats are carried over to MS Office itself when using Sun's tool to load ODF files into Word/XL/PPT's internal structures, and vice versa.

Edited 2007-07-10 23:46

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: fake hope
by Moochman on Wed 11th Jul 2007 03:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: fake hope"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

The MS-sponsored plug-in is dog-slow and doesn't integrate into the save dialog. Plus it requires you to install .NET 2.0, and the MS Office 2007 filters if you happen to be using another version of office. Other than that it does a halfway decent job.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: fake hope
by lemur2 on Wed 11th Jul 2007 03:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: fake hope"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I think that the Microsoft-sponsored ODF plungin will be better


The Microsoft-sponsored software for ODF is a convertor. It converts from OOXML file-format-on-disk to and from ODF file-format-on-disk. The Microsoft-sponsored ODF convertor is not a "save as" plugin, and you cannot directly open ODF files with it either. You cannot set "ODF" as the default document format. With the Microsoft-sponsored software for ODF in conjunction with Windows and MS Office you are faced with the following severe limitations:

(1) You cannot open ODF files directly into Office,
(2) You must save a document you are authoring on disk as OOXML first, before you can produce an ODF version of the same file,
(3) The conversion is very poor because of the obscured bits in the OOXML format, and because it has an extra and un-necessary conversion step to use OOXML as an intermediate format it is molasses-slow,
(4) You cannot double-click on an ODF file in the file manager (or single-click on a link in IE) and have MS Office start up and load the file,
(5) You cannot associate .odt or other ODF formats with MS Office applications and have it work correctly,
(6) You cannot integrate the operation of ODF formats with MS Office and receiving/sending files via Outlook, and
(7) You cannot integrate the operation of ODF formats with Sharepoint.

The Sun plugin suffers from none of these crippling limitations. The Sun plugin converts between MS Office in-memory representations to and from ODF file-format-on-disk. It works in almost the same way as saving and loading OOXML itself does ... direct loading and saving between the file-format-on-disk and the in-memory represenation.

The Sun plugin can make it so that ODF can effectively be used as the default file format for MS Office.

This latter capability is the precise and exact reason why Microsoft mandated such a poor design for the Microsoft-sponsored ODF convertor in the first place. Microsoft do not want MS Office to have a viable and useable ODF capability, because Microsoft do not want the ODF format to succeed.

BTW, the Sun plugin (and in a similar vein the yet-to-be-finished DaVinci plugin) both highlight that Microsoft's purported reason for supporting only OOXML and not supporting ODF (to whit "ODF cannot support our leagcy formats") was completely bogus spin.

BTW, since the Sun plugin allows one to load and save ODF-format spreadsheets directly to and from Excel, this plugin also shows up the bogus nature of some Windows-fan claims that ODF does not support formulas.

Edited 2007-07-11 03:52

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: fake hope
by PlatformAgnostic on Wed 11th Jul 2007 05:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: fake hope"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

ODF certainly supports formulae... AS AN APP-SPECIFIC EXTENSION. As of the ISO-standardized 1.1, there is no universal specification for the formulas. So Sun's converter, which seemingly is just the OOo codebase factored into a certain form, converts from .xls to an OOo-specific ODF file. Is this incorrect?

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: fake hope
by lemur2 on Wed 11th Jul 2007 06:21 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: fake hope"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

ODF certainly supports formulae... AS AN APP-SPECIFIC EXTENSION. As of the ISO-standardized 1.1, there is no universal specification for the formulas. So Sun's converter, which seemingly is just the OOo codebase factored into a certain form, converts from .xls to an OOo-specific ODF file. Is this incorrect?


I don't know. ODF version 1.2 (which is going through the OASIS then ISO committee approvals process now) has a full and open definition of formulas. Why wouldn't Sun's plugin just use that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenFormula
http://wiki.oasis-open.org/office/About_OpenFormula
http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office-f...

(especially since Sun are one of the three companies who are Technical Committee (TC) participants for OpenFormula).

Edited 2007-07-11 06:32

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: fake hope
by lemur2 on Wed 11th Jul 2007 07:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: fake hope"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

On the other hand, it's my understanding that Sun's tool is based on the .doc/xls/ppt compatibility code of StarOffice/OO.o. That is, it converts between ODF and Sun's best guess as to Office's binary format. Any incompatibilities between StarOffice/OO.o and MS's binary formats are carried over to MS Office itself when using Sun's tool to load ODF files into Word/XL/PPT's internal structures, and vice versa.


Ceratinly some of the code of StarOffice/OO.o is used for the Sun plugin. The bit that is used for sure is the bit that writes and reads files to and from disk in ODF format.

I'm not sure about the other side of the interface ... the bit that reads and writes to MS Office in-memory representation.

Certainly there is another plugin in the wings (the OpenDocument Foundation's DaVinci plugin) that uses Microsoft's own API calls to the in-memory representation in order to subsequently write out and read back in the data to disk ... just as Office 2007 uses the exact same functions to read and write an OOXML file to disk.

http://www.opendocumentfoundation.us/

I don't know how Sun's plugin works. I do know that the DaVinci plugin was working right up until the moment that Office 2007 was released by Microsoft with a last-minute change that broke the DaVinci plugin. (What a suprise that was --- *NOT*).

Perhaps Sun's plugin uses a different method and that is why it is out first, ahead of the release of the DaVinci plugin, which probably won't be ready for another month or two yet.

Edited 2007-07-11 07:12

Reply Score: 3

No its not!
by rjpotts on Tue 10th Jul 2007 23:09 UTC
rjpotts
Member since:
2005-07-06

I haven't seen a plug-in for Office X/2004 yet. Until then they have some work to do.

Reply Score: 1

office on mac
by sirrahn on Tue 10th Jul 2007 23:40 UTC
sirrahn
Member since:
2006-07-25

I couldn't find a version of this plugin which you can use on Mac osx, which is a pity!

I some ways it is more important because us mac users still struggle a bit with the versions of open office that are currently available.

Lets hope they think of this next.

Reply Score: 2

On the topic of formulas
by lemur2 on Wed 11th Jul 2007 09:23 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

It is a good thing that Sun has come up with this plugin. It very probably uses OpenFormula, and that would save you from having to save your documents in OOXML formulas ...

http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/07/formula-for-failure.html

... which clearly you would wish to avoid.

On the more general topic of which format to consider saving your precious documents in, here are some more salient points to ponder:

http://fsfeurope.org/documents/msooxml-questions

It would appear that this Sun plugin has arrived just in time, really, so that people (well, MS Office users) don't have to use OOXML, they have a choice and can use ISO standard inter-operable cross-platform ODF instead now, and they can use it relatively seamlessly.

That is a rare bonus for those unfortunates mired inextricably in Windows-land.

Reply Score: 2

How well does it work?
by _mikk on Wed 11th Jul 2007 18:48 UTC
_mikk
Member since:
2005-10-19

Did anybody try on Office 2003/2007?

How stable is it?
Are there any problems parsing/rendering documents passed between Open Office and MS Office versions?

I just wonder...

Reply Score: 1