Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 3rd Feb 2007 16:40 UTC, submitted by jayson.knight
Features, Office A Microsoft-sponsored open-source project is expected on Friday to release a translator that will convert file formats between Microsoft Office and rival standard OpenDocument, or ODF. Microsoft started the project at SourceForge last year, relying on three partners to develop the code that lets a user open and save word processor documents in two different formats.
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RE[5]: question
by hal2k1 on Sun 4th Feb 2007 22:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: question "
hal2k1
Member since:
2005-11-11

//Apparently there are some things that are used by OpenOffice that cannot be represented by MS Word, and vice versa. It's not only about file formats or converters. //

This is what Microsoft would have you believe, but it is not actually so, and the daVinci plugin demonstrates that very well. The representation of some things is different, but they are simply different representations, and it most decidedly is not "impossible" to convert from one representation to the other.

It is, however, impossible if you insist that OOXML is an intermediate stage of the conversion. That is because OOXML deliberately obscures some of the information in a way that is very, very difficult to deconstruct back to ODF. One is tempted to think of OOXML as a XML schema designed to represent the same information types as ODF but be as difficult as possible to translate to ODF.

//The converter (as of now) can be used as an add-in or from the command line for batch conversion work (which is much more useful for large corporate needs). Additionally you can build a generic web service (for you document management system, etc). //

This things can all be done with existing OSS software, and the existing OSS software does a far, far better job.

What cannot be done with the CleverAge approach is: (a) achieve perfect conversions, or (b) set ODF as the default file format.

//And calling the sources "utterly useless" is not very nice. The current code is not in a format directly usable for save/open plugins, right. But it can be adapted to do that. //

No, AFAIK, it cannot. It requires OOXML as input data for file save, and it converts ODF to OOXML on file load ... neither of which processes actually save or load the document in memory. To get a document in to and out of memory using the CleverAge approach still requires that the first action in file save/open is the default OOXML action ... only OOXML interacts with the document in memory, not the CleverAge software. By design.

The daVinci plugin, however, by design, does interact directly between the document in memory and ODF. It does this in the same way as the default file save/open interacts with OOXML. The daVinci plugin therefore completely replaces OOXML.

Doing it that way, the daVinci plugin achieves the following capabilities that are forever beyond the way that the CleverAge software works:
(1) daVinci can be used to set ODF as the default file format,
(2) daVinci can be written for all versions of Office back to '97, and hence achieve interoperability between all the different versions of Office,
(3) daVinci can achieve 100% perfect round-trip fidelity in save-as-ODF/re-load-ODF operations.
(4) daVinci can "expose" in the ODF format everything that is known about the legacy format information in Office documents, and it does a far more comprehensive job of this that any other conversion utility.

Compared to daVinci, the CleverAge software, requiring as it does OOXML as an intermediate step, is indeed utterly useless.

The CleverAge software will never have a hope of achieving the features numbered (1) to (4) above. It is crippled ... by its very design.

Microsoft themselves wrote OOXML as a direct memory <-> file format load/save process, so they knew that can be done, and they knew it could also be done for ODF. Since Microsoft set the design of the CleverAge software deliberately so it was not an equivalent process (memory <-> file format) to OOXML, it could never do features (1) to (4) above, and so, yes, doing such a thing is entirely political.

//You may not like the project, or it's goals. But let's not call it (utterly useless), or claim their motives are "political".//

Pray tell, why on earth not?

If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, you may as well call it a duck.

Edited 2007-02-04 22:37

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