Opening ODF (.odt, .ods, .odp, etc) Files
You are doing your regular day-to-day work, when someone sends you a file that your office applications suite will not open. What can you do to open this file? Well, if the file is in OpenDocument Format (ODF), you have the following alternatives available to you.
What Is OpenDocument Format (ODF)?
ODF is a file format specification created by OASIS, an industry standards group. Its purpose is to create a set of standardized file formats that is XML-based, archivable, not written specifically for any specific vendor’s products, and can be freely implemented by anyone. This standard has been approved by the Internation Organization for Standards (ISO), and is soon to be required for government documents in some European countries and American states. The format includes handicap accessibility, so that such tools as screen readers can easily hook into an ODF-using application. It re-uses proven technologies such as the W3C’s XML, MathML (for mathematics formulae), and SVG (graphics) formats within the standard, rather than experimental and unproven technologies.
Because ODF is a truly open standard that does not place the user’s data into the hands of any particular vendor’s control, it is something that government agencies need to implement for the documents that they hold in trust for their citizens. Best of all, several years from now, after one or more software upgrades, users will still be allowed to access their data—already, some people and companies have found that their historical documents are not readable by their current software—this open format means that any decent programmer can always implement tools to enable access to stored data.
Reading, Printing, Editing & Writing ODF
The following list consists of items known to me as of 2007-01-08. I will update this list as I find out more information.
- File Viewing Software: View and Print The File
- TextMaker Viewer can view and print ODF word processing documents (.odt files).
- OpenDocument Fellowship’s Viewer can view and print ODF wordprocessing (.odt), spreadsheet (.ods), and presentation (.odp) files. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX. Thanks to Jean Weber for getting me this information.
Update: 2008-01-18: It appears that OpenDocument Fellowship’s .org domain is now held by a squatter. Use the .com link above. Thanks, Jesse, for reporting it.
Update: 2012-02-20: It now appears that OpenDocument Fellowship is gone. Clicking the above link leads nowhere.Update: 2014-04-29: The link works again.
- Online Conversion Sites and Online Office Application Suites
- 3BView offers the ability to convert to or from ODF formats on their Web site, including a free trial. Apparently, 3BView has been purchased by Microsystems, and now offers DOCX-related services only.
- Google Docs can import .odt (ODF word processing) files, but it apparently exports .sxw files renamed as .odf. These files will open in OpenOffice.org, but may not open correctly in other applications that support ODF.
- Zoho Office supports ODF for both uploading and downloading documents.
- IBM’s Workplace—network-based applications for businesses—is adding support for ODF. Their Lotus SmartSuite product is not currently doing so. Is SmartSuite even still being developed and sold? Will IBM make it easy for someone to find out if their business is a potential user of Workplace?
- Added 2007-01-13:ZamZar offers an online file conversion service, currently zero-price.
- WebPDF is a server that gets set up to provide service to a company’s network, converting between ODF, Microsoft, and other formats or converting them to PDF. There are pricing plans to enable application service providers to use the server for their customers.
Update: 2012-02-20: It currently appears that the software now known as WebPDF converts more than 100 formats, including the ODF formats, into PDF/A.
- Installable Software Applications
- OpenOffice.org, available for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OSX (X11 only), Solaris
- KOffice, available for Linux, Mac OSX, FreeBSD, and any other UNIX-like operating system
- I recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice.org. I believe The Document Foundation is the project shepherd that Sun should have put into place prior to selling itself to Oracle, and that TDF will better ensure that more than just large corporations’ interests are served by the directions taken by the product. Further, LibreOffice is working to make the product slimmer and faster.
- AbiWord (on Windows, be sure to install the extra file formats plugins) available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX
- NeoOffice, a Mac-native derivative of OpenOffice.org
- StarOffice for Windows, Linux, Solaris operating systems. It appears that Oracle, the new owner, has closed their commercially-supported version of OpenOffice as part of the transition to the Apache Foundation.
- added 2007-10-01: IBM Lotus Symphony for Windows, Linux operating systems with at least 512MB of RAM; this one can also handle many of your old Lotus SmartSuite files. A Mac version is expected in 2008.
- TextMaker, PlanMaker (SoftMaker Office) for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD operating systems.
- WordPerfect. Supports word processing files (.odt – OpenDocument text). You may want to write to them to ask for broader support if you intend to buy their products.
- added 2008-01-18: Sun’s ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office allows users of Microsoft’s product to also open and save ODF (.odt, .ods, and .odp) files in the corresponding Microsoft application. Available for Windows operating systems. UPDATE: 2010-04-20: Oracle / Sun now charges $90 for the plugin, with a minimum 100 unit order. For most of us, this means that this plugin is no longer a reasonable tool for our uses. Update 2011-04-18: A recent search of Oracle’s site gives “page not found” errors for StarOffice / Oracle Open Office and for the ODF Plugin. Oracle did recently announce that OpenOffice.org is being released to the community’s stewardship. Perhaps the plugin is included in that announcement.
- added 2009-05-01: Microsoft Office 2007 with Service Pack 2 can now read and write ODF files. Available for Windows operating systems.
- added 2011-04-18: Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013 can read and write ODF files. Available for Windows operating systems. Their implementation appears to be substandard. Unless you’re at work and have no choice, use LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org instead. Not only do they handle the format better, but they are less annoying to use.
- Freely available software that can manipulate data in files stored in ODF file formats
- If you are writing such an application, please inform me and also Rob Weir.
- Software for mobile phones and PDAs
- Importers / Exporters for Web Content Systems
- ODT Indexer – Allows Joomla! 1.0 indexing to index contents of ODF text document (.odt) files.
- OpenDocument Fellowship maintains a list of applicatons at http://opendocumentfellowship.com/applications. Be sure to use their .com domain in the link, not the .org that has been taken by a cybersquatter. Thanks to Jean Weber for bringing this list to my attention.
If you have knowledge of something that I missed, please inform me about it, so I can update this information.