Sun Announces ODF Plug-in For MSFT Office

Wednesday, 2007-February-07 at 13:52

And Now There are Two: Sun Announces its ODF Plug-in

Sun Announces OpenDocument Plug-in Application for Microsoft Office

Sun Microsystems Announces OpenDocument Format (ODF) Plug-in Application for Microsoft Office

Sun Microsystems has announced a preview version of their own plug-in for Microsoft Office. “The early access version of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) plug-in, available as a free download, will allow seamless two-way conversion of Microsoft Office documents to ODF.” Note the word seamless. The Microsoft-sponsored CleverAge [often referred to as MCAN, for Microsoft-CleverAge-Novell] project on SourceForge is anything but seamless, converting an already-saved OOXML file into an ODF file or converting an ODF file to an OOXML file.

“Organizations can now consider switching to ISO/IEC 26300 OpenDocument Format while protecting employees needing assistive devices only supported by legacy Microsoft software,” said Rich Green, executive vice president, Software at Sun Microsystems. “ODF is important because it ensures documents will still be readable long into the future while allowing a wide choice of proprietary and open source software choices to work with the documents.”

Is this announcement meant to take some steam out of the MCAN project? Does this do something other than mere XSLT, which has already been seen as inadequate to use with OOXML’s “XML with some bit operations and binary blobs seasoned with proprietary secret sauce” format.  So far, no word.  If Sun is converting file formats after saving, like MCAN is, that is not going to be satisfactory for anyone.  Support staff will be called when someone cannot figure out how to save in ODF format, and they will be unhappy with whomever forced them to deal with it.

 Given that MCAN does such a poor job, Sun’s announcement may indeed be meant to keep people from using it until something better comes along.  Whether that something better is actually Sun’s plug-in remains to be seen.  From my perspective, if you are not dealing with “critical” documents, you might take whatever you can get.  If you are dealing with anything that might be personally important (such as a resume) or business-critical, you will want to use something that has been tested and confirmed to work properly.  For that reason, it is probably best to wait until da Vinci comes out and test it against Sun’s product, assuming (as I do) that Sun is not just offering a repackaged version of da Vinci.

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