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Open Document Format Approved 399

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-rule-the-world dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The OASIS Group announces that the third Committee Draft [PDF] of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification has been approved as an OASIS Standard. The submission of the approved standard can be found at here.
The OpenDocument format is intended to provide an open alternative to proprietary document formats including the popular DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business or changes their software or licensing terms to something less favorable."
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Open Document Format Approved

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  • Ironic (Score:4, Funny)

    by R.D.Olivaw (826349) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:33AM (#12429960)
    Open Document Format approved! Read all about it!*

    *Acrobat reader required

  • by clsc (730336) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:34AM (#12429962) Homepage Journal
    - posted in hardware?
  • Probably doomed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ray Alloc (835739)
    I doubt M$ will ever support this format, or else their main revenue stream would be endangered.
    • Re:Probably doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by famebait (450028) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:50AM (#12430023)
      Depends on how many governments pass laws requiring public records to be in open well-specify formats so it will be possible to reaqd them in the future (as the bloody well should)
      • Re:Probably doomed (Score:4, Insightful)

        by beh (4759) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:51AM (#12430237)
        So?

        Even then they would probably try and sabotage it - be slightly incompatible (make sure that the exported data has some "extra bits" in that only M$ can really make heads or tails of - or introduce other little incompatibilities...

        Big deal...
    • Re:Probably doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:06AM (#12430083)
      I doubt M$ will ever support this format, or else their main revenue stream would be endangered.


      I expect them to embrace it in their usual way. They will provide an input filter so their software is compatible with it. (it can open it).
      Expect a few roadblocks on exporting to it.

      Clippy, "I see you are trying to export a document. You will loose your macro's and formatting if you do. Do you wish to continue?"

      If you select yes, expect everything from font selection, to headers and footers, to paragraphs, photo layout, etc., will need re-done in the other simplistic software. In short, it'll import, but editing and saving in a non-MS format will have problems. Expect MS to treat it like ANSI text.
      • Re:Probably doomed (Score:2, Interesting)

        by KiloByte (825081)
        Expect MS to treat it like ANSI text.

        For their usual meaning of ANSI -- that is, "our own incompatible 'standard' that's inconsistent with even our own software".

        Have you messed with console-mode Win32 programming? What the call "ANSI" is bad, bad mojo that bears all marks of intentional sabotage.
        • Re:Probably doomed (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mi (197448)

          What the call "ANSI" is bad, bad mojo that bears all marks of intentional sabotage.

          One does not need to "intentionally" sabotage even. Just treat it as "low priority" (which is justified) and assign a rookie programmer to implement it... Then keep treating bug-reports on the feature as "low priority" too.

          Works in other walks of life too, BTW.

          Unless there is a clear monetary insentive to it, it will not be done properly. The "command and control" methods are not very effective.

    • Re:Probably doomed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp@@@freeshell...org> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:00AM (#12430271) Homepage Journal
      There is a way you could make them, but you'd have to change the format from what it is. It's a lot of work for MS right now. Right now their RTF writer can't even write documents that it can read correctly.

      Why not just make "newpage" and "pagedimensions" tags for HTML, and include the ability to embed anything that can be rendered (including fonts; everything else can already be embedded in Javascript variables)?

      If you put those things in, then (D)HTML becomes a new document format with all the capabilities of all the other formats.
      It would even make it easy to make new types: just add DTDs, write new tags and say what they do.

      Right now OO has a 600 page document to explain their "open" format. Yeah, that's open. Open like CORBA and like SGML. Open, but a huge chunk of time to learn when there are other perfectly good ways to do it that don't take all of your time.

      Oh, and it would kill Acromedia's chokehold on printable document formats.
      • by rvw (755107)
        Why would you want to tags to html for printing purposes? I believe CSS2 or 3 will be able to do this. And then there is a much better solution: xml + xslt. You take one document with the data (xml) and use the xslt to convert it to any format you want: pdf (xsl-fo), wordml, html, odf, rtf, etc. What you suggest is something you don't want to happen.
      • Re:Probably doomed (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NickFitz (5849) <slashdot@nick f i t z . c o.uk> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:55AM (#12430439) Homepage

        Congratulations, you've just re-invented XML/CSS/XSLT/XSL-FO, and are entitled to a cigar or coconut according to choice :-)

        • Re:Probably doomed (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp@@@freeshell...org> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @08:52AM (#12430756) Homepage Journal
          Those are all technologies that work with things that render html (browsers), which to me means that you're still pretty much talking about the same thing.

          None of the things also handle the effects (or javascript that produces that effect, etc.) that I mentioned. I'd be perfectly happy with a oHTML (office XML) xml format that was html+javascript with some new tags.

          The point is that this new document format is much, much different from that. There are a lot of things in the format that don't really even need to be there, and are just redundant information adding to the complexity.

          If they use something similar to html, then they've got about 100 WYSIWYG editors that can become document editors really quick.
      • Re:Probably doomed (Score:5, Informative)

        by Spoing (152917) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:42AM (#12431656) Homepage
        "Right now OO has a 600 page document to explain their "open" format. Yeah, that's open. Open like CORBA and like SGML. Open, but a huge chunk of time to learn when there are other perfectly good ways to do it that don't take all of your time."

        Only 600 pages? (checks...680+, 28 for the table of contents alone plus executive overviews here and there) Still, at 680 pages, that's not bad! After all, OpenDocument covers word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and graphics and all the elements in those formats including forms, dates, curved graphical elements, text flow -- both as raw data structures and printable output.

        If you've ever worked on specifications before -- including raw specs that are not project/product specific -- you know that even to tell somone how scratch thier ass takes a good 15 pages. 15 pages if you skip defining what a hand is, what fingers are, and which specific person(s) are responsible for ass scratching and what the job titles are. Double the number of pages if it's in any way government related.

    • They know that obscurity is only a temporary measure. Look at how good OO is at opening doc files -- not perfect, but good enough for most files and most people.

      You can get a sense for what would be a reasonable strategy by considering this: there already is a widely implemented, open file format for word processing: RTF. But it doesn't support stylesheets, among other things.

      So, the way to make sure an open format doesn't catch on is to put a bunch of features in your word procesor, which have to be s
  • Nice! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RichiP (18379) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:36AM (#12429974) Homepage
    Any word from the other OpenSource/Free Software office suites if they're planning on supporting (if not totally moving) to the new formats?

    What are the criteria for approving standards by the OASIS group? Is there any guarantee on the quality of the standard itself?
    • Re:Nice! (Score:5, Informative)

      by say (191220) <sigve AT wolfraidah DOT no> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:41AM (#12429996) Homepage
      What other office suites? You mean all the office suites except OpenOffice, StarOffice, KOffice and the Gnome Office project, which all are planning to use/are already using it?
    • by beofli (584044) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:53AM (#12430432)
      Nowadays I just store information in Wiki's. A directory tree with documents is an outdated structure for storing (shared) knowledge. Because of Wiki's associative nature you can create multiple views of your information, and you can collaborate to very high degree.

      BTW: The only formatting that is really relevant are headers, bullets, and simple tables.
  • What about Bill (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tacocat (527354) <tallison1 AT twmi DOT rr DOT com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:43AM (#12430001)

    The question still remains:

    1. Will Open Office, AbiWord, et al adopt this?
    2. Will Microsoft adopt this?
    3. Will adoption mean Default, Available Option, or partial support (import only)
    It's a step in the right direction, no doubt, but how will this be addressed in practice?
    • Re:What about Bill (Score:5, Informative)

      by cgranade (702534) <cgranade @ g m a il.com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:58AM (#12430058) Homepage Journal
      With respect to (1), OpenOffic.org and KOffice have both announced that OpenDocument will be their new native file format. This is one of the biggest changes in OO.o 2.0. You can try it for youself in the beta, OO.o 1.9. As for KOffice, I don't know when they are planning on having an OpenDoc version out, and as for AbiWord, I haven't heard much (I don't really follow AbiWord).
      • Re:What about Bill (Score:3, Informative)

        by crazy blade (519548)
        Koffice 1.4 beta1 is out ( release notes [koffice.org]) and from the Changelog [koffice.org]:

        New features:

        • OASIS file format support (almost complete)
        • Copy/Paste and Drag-n-drop use the OASIS format
        • Inline text frames can be navigated into using Left and Right keys

        So OASIS support in KOffice is almost there. The final 1.4 release is scheduled for mid-June (see the release schedule [kde.org])

    • Re:What about Bill (Score:4, Interesting)

      by xortw (767546) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:59AM (#12430060) Homepage
      Sponsor Members include... *drumroll*:
      Microsoft
      • Re:What about Bill (Score:3, Informative)

        by FridayBob (619244)
        That only means that they wanted to influence the process. Whether or not
        they plan to adopt the new format(s) is a completely different issue.
      • Really? Where do you have that from? I see no mention of Microsoft.

        On the website when I click on 'Members' it lists:

        OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC

        This page lists the OASIS members currently on this TC's membership roster. People with the role of Member, TC Chair, or Secretary are voting members of the TC. Prospective Members will become voting members after attending the first meeting of the TC or by completing a probationary period.
        Person Organization Role
        T
    • I don't think Microsoft will adopt it. Because if they do (in MS Office for example) it means they'll have to support it. Imagine MS giving support for an open source project that they don't even own.

      OpenOffice is another matter though, and i don't see any reasons why they wouldn't want to support it. *especially* if MS decides not to ;)
  • patent trouble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moz25 (262020) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:44AM (#12430004) Homepage
    Is the any indication if their proposed format is entirely free of patent issues? Given the office format patents that MS has applied for recently, that could be an issue.
    • Re:patent trouble (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:31AM (#12430159) Journal
      Is there any indication that Microsoft's patents themselves are free of patent or prior art issues? Seeing as how the USPO and other patent offices around the world are swamped, I doubt that all of Microsoft's patents will hold up.

      In any case, suing open-source projects like OpenOffice or KOffice doesn't help Microsoft at all. The lawsuit will be extended, not unlike IBM and SCO. With IBM, Novell, RedHat and others relying on projects such as these office suites to help them provide alternatives for their customers, they'd most likely join the suit to make sure that they don't lose a project critical to Linux's growing adoption.

      In the best case scenario, those products are taken off the market in the US, and other countries where they sue, and win. That would leave many parts of Asia, Africa and South America, which are Microsoft's biggest targets as those places are developing quickly.

      In the worst case scenario, they lose respectability for suing a legitimate project, further adding to the claims of monopolistic tendencies against them. Reputation and respectability aid trust, which is critical for software houses.

      I don't believe Microsoft will sue. I hope for their own sake, they don't.
      • Microsoft hasn't exactly been rational about litigation in the past. Who knows what they will do?

        The important thing is that they will probably not be able to get an injunction unless they have a clear-cut infringement case, and that's not at all likely for a set of open formats covering long-understood functionality.

      • by RoLi (141856)
        Microsoft is very unlikely to sue because:
        • Most of their patents are completely bogus and would never hold up in court. It's more a marketing-tool to make MSFT more attractive to investors and to grow the cross-licensing portfolio than anything else.
        • The court case would take a lot of time and in that time (at least a year) the OASIS group could just put out non-infringing v2 of the format - The userbase of the OASIS v1 format is not yet large enough that it would really matter.
        • Novell, IBM, Sun, etc. coul
  • by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@@@foresightlinux...com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:44AM (#12430007) Homepage
    It's all very well having an open document system, but let's look at this in detail:

    For this system to work, every office app needs to adopt this file format. That way, companies can theoretically switch between vendors. Why would Microsoft, who already have the lion's share of the office market include this format? That would surely be shooting themselves in the feet.

    If there were, say, three competing office suites each with 33% of the market share, then you could understand them wanting to include support for this format - companies would demand that the app supported them or switch to an alternative. However, when one office suite controls anything in the region of up to 96% of the market share, it'll take a lot more than a common open file format to persuade the average business to move away from a program that is pretty much the standard, whether we like it or not.
    • MS isn't afraid. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CthuluElder (700480)
      They can just keep .doc as the default option for saving files. Most users never change the defaults, that's why I still get forwarded messages as attatchmets from outlook users.

      • by jesterzog (189797) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:50AM (#12430231) Homepage Journal

        They can just keep .doc as the default option for saving files. Most users never change the defaults, that's why I still get forwarded messages as attatchmets from outlook users.

        I suspect that one of the (admittedly several) reasons that Word managed to knock out Wordperfect so many years ago was that Wordperfect didn't make a huge effort to be compatible with the competition. WordPerfect Corporation took its users for granted, and it was very slow off the blocks in a lot of ways.

        Microsoft went to a lot of effort to make Word as compatible as possible with Wordperfect files, just as OpenOffice and several others are doing now, but Wordperfect Corporation didn't go to as much effort in returning the favour for Microsoft Word. My understanding is that it was more like 95% compatibility for a long time. The end result was that Word could cleanly deal with two formats, but Wordperfect could only reliably deal with its own.

        The consequence? Once Word documents had reached a critical mass due to certain "other" reasons, people tended to go for the application that would allow them to easily deal with both types of documents rather than only Wordperfect files. This, of course, turned out to be Microsoft Word, and adoption of it was accelerated.

        OpenDocument may not be quite the same situation, because with the OpenDocument format being... well... open, it wouldn't necessarily be too difficult for Microsoft to add support if everyone suddenly decided that they wanted it. This would be a victory in itself for other office applications, though, because it would immediately give Word-using businesses and governments the opportunity of distributing files that more people than just Word users can reliably access.

        If there's a critical mass of non-Word users (which could even be a combination of Openoffice, Koffice, and whatever else), it's enough reason for many organisations to seriously consider what their standard document formats should be.

        • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:26AM (#12430346)
          I don't know how good Word was in reading WordPerfect files, but if you read Slashdot and other sites, you'll see that in almost every single MS Office or OpenOffice stories, people are always complaining that OpenOffice can't read Word documents correctly. On top of that, add VB macros, OLE and that kind of things.
          I suspect that it was relatively easy to read/write WP documents, but it's much harder to read/write Word documents.
          • but if you read Slashdot and other sites, you'll see that in almost every single MS Office or OpenOffice stories, people are always complaining that OpenOffice can't read Word documents correctly.

            What people complain about is not a statistically accurate representation of the real world, and you aren't even interpreting their complaints correctly.

            Yes, OOo does not read some MS Word documents correctly. It's something almost everybody who uses OOo has encountered, and almost everybody would like that to
        • by guanxi (216397) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @08:57AM (#12430797)
          I suspect that one of the (admittedly several) reasons that Word managed to knock out Wordperfect so many years ago was that Wordperfect didn't make a huge effort to be compatible with the competition.

          Completely off topic: A reasonable suspicion, but that's not what happened:

          WordPerfect prided itself on converting everything, even arcane formats (for example, on WP 2000, I can save in MultiMate and Navy DIF Standard formats, whatever that is). I recall no unusual problems with Word (no conversion is perfect).

          Nor was WordPerfect technically inferior. In one PC Magazine review at the time, even 16 bit WordPerfect beat 32 bit Word.

          Word's advantages were,
          1) They came out with a 16 bit Windows 3.1 version first.
          2) They came out with a 32 bit Windows version way ahead of the competition. There were complaints that they took advantage of inside info on Win95.
          3) Word was bundled with Excel -- that was the beginning of 'office suites'.
          4) Microsoft, already holding the Windows monopoly, licensed Office to PC manufacturers in the following way: The manufacturer buys one Office license fee for every machine they sell, whether or not the customer buys Office. Guess what came with every new PC?

          The gov't eventually made MS change the last strategy on anti-trust grounds.
    • Integration (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:51AM (#12430033) Homepage
      Office suites aren't the only players in this market.

      Since this format is Open, there are no limitations to integrating it into other products such as CMS system, reports (which is more common than you'd expect) and all sorts of other tools which a business uses.

      If this integration reaches a certain critical mass where it becomes too much of an advantage for businesses to ignore, MS will have no choice but to adopt it.
    • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:52AM (#12430037)
      It's amazing to see so many people already giving up before the fight has even started.

      Yes, everyone is aware of the stranglehold MS has on the market, but this new standard is exactly meant to fight this stranglehold. And I don't agree that MS has to come on board to make this a success.

      1. This gives all alternatives to MS Office an advantage over MS Office, which is of course a good thing.
      2. Now that it is a standard, what about governments requiring that the software they use be standard compatible?
      3. Even if MS themselves don't support it, how about third party verndors, or open source hackers developing a plugin for MS Office to support this format?

      To sum it up, I think it is a little more complex than you seem to think and the fight has only just started, so don't give up yet.
    • Even if Microsoft adopts it, it will never catch on unless it is the default format for Microsoft Office.

      Remember the trick with Microsoft Wordpad? each time a .txt file is saved, the application warns the user that the file is about to lose any formating, even if it has none. This is so frustrating, that after a few saves the user saves the document in native Wordpad format in order to avoid this little dialog.

      Microsoft could pull the same trick with the OpenDocument format. It could support it very well
  • Nice but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:45AM (#12430014)
    As much as it pains me to say this, Microsoft has such a strangle-hold over the most common document formats that this attempt will be largely useless unless they come on board.

    Which they, most obviously, won't.

    However, I applaud this group for at least trying. However the realistic cynic in me says that we're not going to see many gains. Hell, the average user in a company doesn't know of and has never been exposed to anything else but Word, Powerpoint and Excel.

    If that's the sort of minimal marketshare the competition occupies, it's going to be a tough battle.

    • by archeopterix (594938) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:03AM (#12430074) Journal
      However, I applaud this group for at least trying. However the realistic cynic in me says that we're not going to see many gains. Hell, the average user in a company doesn't know of and has never been exposed to anything else but Word, Powerpoint and Excel.
      There might be some gains in other areas, far from the average user's desktop. The point of not adhering to the standard can be raised the next time a government decides what software to buy. It can also have some meaning in anti-monopoly trials.

      This of course depends on whether the standard gains some credibility. Perhaps IBM could have a stab at Microsoft by declaring their wholehearded support for the standard.

    • Re:Nice but (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ssj_195 (827847) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:12AM (#12430105)
      The EU has been coming down particularly hard on Microsoft recently over the closed-ness of its protocols. I have absolutely no idea what this means in the long run (is it an enlightened attempt to prevent getting themselves locked in, or just a means to extort money/ discounts?), but I take heart from the fact that some government somewhere is actually taking a stand against Microsoft over closed formats, rather than simply bending over as has always been the case in the past.

      As always, I end with my favourite link that I like to post in situations such as these. If you are cheered by the spectacle of a politician thoroughly demolishing Microsoft FUD, read on!

      http://www.opensource.org/docs/peru_and_ms.php [opensource.org]

    • Re:Nice but (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jugalator (259273)
      As much as it pains me to say this, Microsoft has such a strangle-hold over the most common document formats that this attempt will be largely useless unless they come on board.

      Which they, most obviously, won't.

      However, I applaud this group for at least trying.


      Well, "this group" has Microsoft as a sponsor organization.

      Actually, they're quite a bit [techtarget.com] involved in OASIS and standardization.
      • Recently a US govt department got a licencing concession from MS re use of .DOC format in non-ms software. Not a big step but it proved that MS will change the rules when threatened with competing OS products.
        If a govt dept put out a requirement for software that can read and write both MS and OASIS formats natively, do you think they wouldnt tender for the contract?
  • by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@@@foresightlinux...com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:55AM (#12430046) Homepage
    CONSUMER: We demand this new open file format - it allows us more choice and prevents us from being locked down to one Word Processor exclusively.

    OPENOFFICE: Okay, we've included it. Now you can read and write to this new open format!

    MICROSOFT: We've just added support for the new format too. You can read all open format Word Processor documents in Word. We didn't include a function to write to an open document - our users don't want that kind of complication.

    OPENOFFICE: Let's sit back and wait for this open file format to kick start the OpenOffice adoption!

    CONSUMER: Microsoft just offered us Office free for 5 years when they found out we were considering an open source alternative to our operating system. Word can even read all these open format files we have created in OpenOffice - let the migration begin!

    OPENOFFICE: Oh dear.
    • by makomk (752139) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:05AM (#12430080) Journal
      CUSTOMER: Our copies of Microsoft Office don't work on any new PCs. Help!

      MICROSOFT: Tough. Shell out $500 per PC per month, or lose the ability to read your documents.

      CUSTOMER: Somebody help us!!!

      OPENOFFICE (silence - died years ago due to lack of interest)
      • CUSTOMER: Hey, what's this I found? It's some old unmaintained code for writing office documents...

        MICROSOFT: All your base are belong to us!

        CUSTOMER: No, no...I remember this, it worked good. Remember that time Netscape looked all dead but then came back to life as Firefox/Mozilla? Maybe we could do the same with this here office thingy...

        MICROSOFT: All your base are belong to us!

        CUSTOMER: Hey guys, check this out, we don't have to use that Microsoft stuff anymore...

        MICROSOFT: All your.... (s
    • CONSUMER: Microsoft just offered us Office free for 5 years when they found out we were considering an open source alternative to our operating system. Word can even read all these open format files we have created in OpenOffice - let the migration begin!

      OPENOFFICE: Oh dear.


      I think the last line here was supposed to read.

      OPENOFFICE: Alright then, see ya in five years, suckers. Microsoft isn't going to give you a free ride FOREVER--they can't afford to. But we can, and we'll be waiting for you.
  • Does this mean I can convert from wordML to openoffice and back with a simple XSLT?

    This could make for a pretty neat web based document repository which returns documents in any format I like.
    • Re:XSLT? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lehk228 (705449)
      i thought the MS "xml" document format was something along the lines of

      <xml>
      <msWord>
      <author>Bill Gates</author>
      <uue-doc>dfndslfuhrdsifdshfkldsfue sfjdlkfuc436^%$& %$5</uue-doc>
      </msWord>
      </xml>
  • by el_womble (779715) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:59AM (#12430062) Homepage

    Everybody (/. readers not included) uses MS Office. Why? Because it is a 'standard'. OK, its a lousy standard. In fact, its more of a moving target than a standard, but the trick is that nobody knows this.

    Sure they know that sometimes when they put their file on a floppy disk and put that in the post to send to their collegue half way across the office that sometimes it looks a bit different to how it looked on their computer, but then thats how computers are!?!

    People don't know what word processor is unless its Word. They are taught it in school. They are taught in college and they are taught it in night classes. Its what employers want to see on CVs. People freek when they see PDFs. People freak when they see RTFs! Why? Because on windows they don't have a blue 'W' on them that lets them know its a word processing docuement.

    The .doc is here for the long haul. It has survived every attempt by microsoft to improve it. It has survived some glaring security holes and it will continue to do this because consumers are not offered an alternative that they understand and that remains word compatible.

  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:00AM (#12430065) Homepage
    It won't do any good at all. It will be like esperanto; what's the point of creating an open document format if you won't be able to communicate with anyone with it? Because unfortunately, if you can't communicate with the stock install of Microsoft Word, you basically can't communicate with anyone.

    Okay, yeah, I'm sure there's probably some tiny niche somewhere this fills. But the rest of us are going to have to ignore this new thingy and just continue shipping around .docs for the same reason we use .doc to transfer files now: For the benefit of people too lazy or dumb to open files in anything but Microsoft Word.

    There was a period some years ago, when I first started looking for work, that I didn't have a copy of Microsoft Word, so I would send out my resume as an HTML file, or a PDF, or if it seemed appropriate both. Over this period, most of the time when I sent my resume out, the response-- even when the sent file was just an HTML file, that you double click and it opens in MSIE-- was "I can't figure out how to open your resume, do you have a .doc?" And these were mostly tech jobs I was applying for. It was kind of scary. Now I have a copy of Microsoft Word which I own seemingly solely so that I can create my resume in it, and my resume is sent out as .doc, always.
    • by jesterzog (189797) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:34AM (#12430174) Homepage Journal

      Over this period, most of the time when I sent my resume out, the response-- even when the sent file was just an HTML file, that you double click and it opens in MSIE-- was "I can't figure out how to open your resume, do you have a .doc?"

      I'm in the process of looking for work now, and I've found that recruitment agents in particular tend to prefer Word documents over something like PDF or HTML.

      This isn't because they can't open the latter -- it's because they like to be able to easily edit them. When a recruitment agent hands your resume to a potential employer, they'll usually want to remove identifying information from your resume. This, of course, prevents the employer from approching you directly, in which case the recruitment agent might not get their commission.

      Granted that this isn't quite the same as not being able to open a resume at all, but recruitment agents in particular do often have an ulterior motive for wanting a Word document rather than a PDF, for instance.

    • You can save it as a .rtf and rename the file to .doc, MS Word will accept that just happily and the pimp agency won't even notice it's not a genuine native Word file.

      .rtf is a fairly limited but widely supported format. And, do you really need to put that animation in your resume?

    • "And these were mostly tech jobs I was applying for. It was kind of scary. Now I have a copy of Microsoft Word which I own seemingly solely so that I can create my resume in it, and my resume is sent out as .doc, always."

      Will create a doc file just fine and I didn't have to pay monopolistic prices for it. Kind of scary that you didn't realize that before spending your money.
    • by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @08:23AM (#12430560)
      Yeah just like bitching about web standards is foolish and creating browsers that support web standards is stupid. Everyone will just keep using IE and web designers will design pages for IE.

      Changing the world is not possible, don't even think about it.

  • Question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AngryScot (795131)
    Can someone explain to me what differance this new format has over .doc when OO.org can open .doc files and convert most other formats into .doc files

    Thanks
    • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by ssj_195 (827847)
      .DOC, as I understand it, is an absolute mess of a format (I've heard from several sources that it represents a straight memory dump of Word, but this is hard to believe). It is also closed and undocumented, and the limited interoperability OO.o has with is has come as the result of years of painstaking reverse-engineering, with no help from Microsoft.

      Having an open, well-structured and well-documented format means that all word-processors will be able to write documents that will be (hopefully) perfec

    • Open Format vs. a Closed Format. OO, Kword, Abiword, WP, etc. all reverse engineer the .doc format. They never have it quite right. Worse, MS keeps changing it. Then the others are playing catch-up. OO and Kword both support (in beta) the new format. By writing to it, users will be able to switch tools.

      I am waiting to see if any of the non-MS closed systems will support it. It would be nice if Lotus and Word Perfect do it as well.

      In addition, it might be useful to create a batch mode tool to convert fro
    • The importer for this format isn't founded on educated guesswork?
  • by rathehun (818491) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:26AM (#12430146) Homepage
    The importance of this standard cannot be underestimated.

    Most people are approaching this from the wrong PoV.

    Once there is a standard in place, then implementation occurs. And it's definitely likely to appear - first in Open Office, then maybe spreading - I can see Linux using it as the default document standard.

    Microsoft will eventually have to support it - if it reaches 10% of the market, then you are going to start getting complaints from customers. Even if it only implements a read-only function, that's good enough.

    I face a major productivity sapper, when I send off a .sxw to someone who can't open it. I have to open, export to .doc, check that it displays ok, and then resend. If I can happily compose in whatever editor I want, and press send without having to bother about whether a client will be able to read or not - so much the better.

    As an aside, the Indian government is slowly adopting Open Office - mainly because these can be easily translated into the local language. Useful, especially in rural areas and the smaller towns. The government itself released a Tamil version of Open Office, Firefox and a bunch of other stuff. Check out their efforts here [ernet.in].

    Cheers, R.

  • by DV (10611) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:34AM (#12430171) Homepage
    Now will it be pushed though ISO (prefereably
    though a fasttrack). The ISO stamp carries far
    more weight for governements agencies and this
    could cange a lot of things. See for example
    Tim Bray's log on the subject
    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2004/09/24/ SmartEC [tbray.org]

    Daniel

    BTW: wasn't the September 2004 LSB spec supposed to be fasttracked though the ISO process too ?
  • by Underholdning (758194) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:36AM (#12430176) Homepage Journal
    Back when I was a developer I wrote all my documentation in TeX. I often get emails requesting a Word version of my documentation. Even though TeX is quite open.
  • by krygny (473134) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:31AM (#12430365)
    And you know how that happens?

    The US Department of Defense. If there is any "customer" that can tell Microsoft what's what, it's the DoD. (Other branches of the government can too; they have the juice but they don't have the prunes.) Once the DoD even begins to addopt these open formats, it immediately shuts out Microsoft because Office doesn't support them.

    Microsoft would have to make a very painful decision at that point.
  • Unless you know what's going on in serious documentation, you don't understand what this is about. Serious documentation (books, manuals, etc.) has been moving away from Microsoft Word for a decade now, but it has had a lot of bumps along the way. Any reasonable-sized company with a documentation library is going to be using something like FrameMaker, Xmetal, RoboHelp, AuthorIt or any other number of real publishing packages.

    One problem with this is that each software package is good for a particular type of publishing (print, PDF, online help, HTML) and not as good or useless for the others. The other problem is that the collaboration models on most of these programs are weak.

    But the really big issue is that the companies making these products tend either to get bought out by the big guys or go belly-up after a few years when the new tool-de-jour hits the shelves. In the last few weeks, two tools (RoboHelp and FrameMaker) announced end-of-life. Now if you are HP and you are using one of these, you are now stuck with thousands of pages of documentation in a semi-proprietary format. This happens to you every few years, and you pop several thousand or several hundred thousand dollars in the conversion each time.

    It just so happens that the tool-du-jour right now is something called AuthorIT, which isn't even a cousin of a word processor. It's a database that stores documents, and stores output properties. It actually is the one tool that does a good job of producing print and online documentation (CHM, HTML, XML, whatever) The single-sourcing capablity is why it is the tool-du-jour, and why a lot of the big companies use it. CA alone has a million pages in this format.

    But AuthorIt isn't any bigger than those previous tool companies, and their format is just as proprietary, although you can have HTML and XML output, so in theory you are in pretty good shape for converting. Still, these big companies are using it for their big documentation projects.

    I don't know what percentage of documentation uses all these other tools, but suffice it to say it's a lot, and it's more critical stuff than most of what is written in Word. These people don't care about the documents written in Word. They are all on the standards body so that they don't have to keep losing all their documentation styles, templates and layouts every time a new kind of online help or new kind of documentation product becomes popular.
  • by bogado (25959) <[bogado] [at] [bogado.net]> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:03AM (#12430833) Homepage Journal
    ... eventualy, but is it good? Have you seen how well MS has adopted the W3 open standards for css and (x)html? If saving your document in this open format results in strange things, people will blame the format and not MS.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @09:14AM (#12430924)
    I had never even heard of Oasis before this article. So I figured that this must be an impressive group of people, if they're designing standards, and at least the Slashdot editors think that those standards will make some ripples. Instead, the membership of this standards group consists of:

    Tom Magliery Blast Radius Inc. Voting Member

    Nathaniel Borenstein IBM Voting Member - Probation

    Xiaowei Hu IBM Voting Member - Probation

    Gary Edwards Individual Voting Member

    David Faure Individual Voting Member

    Patrick Durusau Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Voting Member

    Michael Brauer Sun Microsystems* TC Chair

    Lars Oppermann Sun Microsystems* Secretary

    Instead, 8 seemingly random, average people are making this "standard". Who are these people? What are their qualifications?

    On a similar note, my buddy and I came up with a new standard that should replace EDI for all intra-business communication. We'll have it up just as soon as my Geocities account is activated.
  • by solios (53048) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @10:51AM (#12431746) Homepage
    ... but you can't make him use Ogg.

    "Approved" != "Adopted", and best of luck with that.
  • by bokmann (323771) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:20AM (#12432039) Homepage
    IT seems as if a lot of the comments in this thread are of a 'why bother' attitude, thinking that Microsoft will never adopt it. Well, the battle has just begun folks - there are still a LOT of ways this could play out...

    1) All of the OTHER office programs now have a common format to use, and third parties have a standard 'input' for other processing - such as automatically making html, pdf, docbook, or some other format. With one well-documented standard, each tool can concentrate on doing one thing well.

    2) Microsoft won't budge on this until they feel the heat from their customers - so people who care must start educating people. The more people who start asking for this format, the more pressure Microsoft will feel. The average joe isn't going to be able to put much pressure, but what if a big contract at the Department of Defense included a requirement that said, "All deliverables must be in OpenDocument format."? The companies bidding on that contract sure would care... And SAIC, Lockheed Martin, etc can put a LOT of pressure on Microsoft.

    3) If Microsoft expressed any interest, it will initially be as a 'migration path away from all those inferior products', and they will read the format perfectly. They won't allow users to save in that format without the pressure I mention above, and even when they do, it will probably be buggy, and throw up so many 'Warning: You are saving your document in OpenDocument. That may cause you to lose page formatting' messages that users will have no faith in the OpenDocument format.

    Don't give up the battle yet - the fun is just beginning!

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