There is a great buzz around the pseudo-support of OpenDocument just being announced by Microsoft.

What is it about ?

Let's go into the detail of this kitchen sink.A lot of names are often cited together, because they are highly interrelated.

OpenDocument, ODF, OpenOffice, ISO and OASIS

OpenOffice is an office suite, in which we can make documents.

Recently the format of documents OpenOffice handle natively, which is named OpenDocument, has been standardized by ISO just after being developed at the OASIS.

The extension of document in OpenDocument format is ODF.

OpenXML, DOCX, Office 12, ECMA

A lot of people already know Microsoft Office suite and the ability to open Word for making documents.

Next version of Office, Office 12, will be able the handle for import/export an XML format of document, named OpenXML, which is not yet standardized by ECMA

The extension of document in OpenXML format is DOCX.

So what's the point

The main part of the project will be around XSLT transformation from one XML format, DOCX a.k.a OpenXML and ODF a.k.a OpenDocument.

Of course, there is a legacy part of the project to support non-XML DOC format to OpenDocument, which is very important and we should look at it in a near future.

The bad point is that :

Office 12 will not have included support of OpenDocument

which translate to :

Microsoft will not have any responsibility for this support and will not include it by default. It will not be highly integrated so it might add a significant amount of processing time to load/save documents. And moreover, we have not any idea of the scheduled release of this module.

But good points are :

1.) The converter is in Open Source

so

It is not locked in principle and the community could take it and add new feature as they are needed, like a better math formula or forms supports. But, the development is based on DotNet so could difficultly be used directly.

2.) A french software company is involved

so

It's a good point for french software industry, in which Innovimax is involved

So what else could we wait for

This post is entitled "Openness", which is the key point for being interoperable. So that's what could be done :

  • OpenOffice.org community could act that it is a good point and that in return as soon as DOCX will become an ECMA standard, OpenOffice.org will launch a project to support import/export of this format. May be could they start immediately ?
  • The main point for legacy conversion is to handle all the specificities of those formats. We can imagine that in a near future, all the word documents could be converted to OpenXML (that's the aim of the ECMA specification). In those case, we could imagine that we will have
  DOC/RTF --------> DOCX <----------> ODF  
  non-XML           XML   with XSLT   XML

And then, let's the history say who will win, between DOCX and ODF