OpenOffice.org's file format now an ISO standard

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Great news today as the OpenDocument file format, used in the excellent OpenOffice.org word processor / spreadsheet / presentation application, was ratified as an official ISO standard. This means many things, from the fact that many major international corporations and organizations will start using it as their standard file format instead of the inferior Microsoft formats, but that also people world over now have security in the knowledge that files they create in this format will still be accessible for years to come, regardless of any one company. This is akin to how in the 90's the various Internet service providers stopped using their own custom messaging system and standardized on regular RFC 2821/2822 email, letting customers of one communicate with friends and family who had the audacity to use another company. Hurray for common sense finally succeeding against one corporation's profits.

8 Comments

Personally I don't see why

Personally I don't see why you think Microsoft's file formats are inferior??? Additionally, I think OpenOffice is a bloated, memory hogging, resource intense, piece of java crap.

Microsoft's file formats are

Microsoft's file formats are inferior for the simple reason that they don't give out the file format specifications, instead prefer to wrap it all up in patents and IP bullshit. Having a publically documented file format that is outside of the control of any one single corporation is in the public's best interests, especially when it is documents that our tax money pays for. And do you want your data being controlled by a company that can't even write its own software to its own internal development guidelines, or do you want to be free to choose your software on your terms?

OpenOffice isn't a piece of java crap, only a small portion of v2 is written in Java :-P The fact that anyone can get an "office"-like application for free, without worrying that they're breaking the law (especially at the corporate level) is also in its favor. Yes, OpenOffice.org is slow to start, a problem that they improve on with each revision, but once it starts up it works great.

Personally I'd like to see Apple migrate their office apps (Pages and Keynote) to use ODF instead of their own formats, they've got some really great software that is again hampered by proprietary formats.

But let me make sure I

But let me make sure I understand you...

Because company keeps something confidential, proprietary, or secret in whatever shape or form, that makes their product inferior?

AFAIK It would be feature set, quality of construction, etc. that makes a product inferior. Can you provide a list of the various file formats, and their featues, so we can make at least some sort of educated conclusion as to whether or not one is inferior or not... Or perhaps the difference at all???

Admit it Damien... You just hate Microsoft!!! :)

If the company was certain

If the company was certain they could sell their product on its quality alone they wouldn't be playing games for 15 years forcing their document format upon the world. I'm not talking about the product, I'm talking about the file format it creates. They can patent widget #56 (the one with the spining crucifix) all they want, I don't care, so long as they don't do their utmost to stop me doing what want with my files.

This is all part of the greater question of: who owns your data?

An example. The image format PNG was created as a reaction to Compuserve and Unisys deciding that they wanted to cash in on GIF's LZW compression routine. PNG is an open format that is supported by I believe all current web browsers (IE6 has a bug with transparent PNGs, but it can be patched with javascript) and the majority of image management software, and has gained an increase in web development marketshare in over GIF/JPG due to its virtues. Macromedia/Adobe Fireworks is a great graphics editor that uses PNG as its default file format, rather than e.g. Photoshop's custom PSD format, so you can rest assured that the files won't one day become obsolete because e.g. the company was bought out and the product cancelled.

Another example. I know an architect who has been doing her work on PCs for donkeys years. A large number of very important designs she and her husband created over the years are now useless because they were saved in proprietary formats where the companies went under, were bought out and the products canned, etc.

The end result is the same - if you base your life/business on proprietary file formats you will pay for it in the end.

And yes, I know the fact that the personal accounting software market sucks in this regard. Right now I am Intuit's beotch.

But all the popular office

But all the popular office systems can open each other's formats. MSFT does not stop Corel, or OO from being able to open, and even modify the document. So What's the problem there?

They have to reverse engineer

They have to reverse engineer the formats, rather than read publically available documentation. MSFT also are known to publish a specification and then write their own software to variations or supersets of the specification so 3rd party apps written to the public specs are incompatible with their own. You might want to read up on these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_format
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_standard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendor_lock-in

But in the end, the file

But in the end, the file formats are not actually inferior. They are just somewhat proprietary. That does not equal inferior. It may be semantics, but I think you are using the wrong terms.