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Evolving ODF Environment: Spotlight on SoftMaker

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the odf-avalanche dept.

75

Andy Updegrove writes "In this fourth in-depth interview focusing on ODF-compliant office productivity suites, I interview Dr. Martin Sommer, of Germany's SoftMaker Software. Most people know about OpenOffice, StarOffice, and KOffice, the ODF poster child software suites. But there are also other products available as well, including this one, which bundles word processing and spreadsheet capabilities (with more modules on the way), runs on both Windows, Linux and mobile platforms, is designed for home users, is available on-line, is localized in many languages - and is dirt cheap, besides. It's also been selected by AMD for use in connection with its ambitious "50x15" plan, which hopes to connect 50% of the world population to the Internet by 2015. This interview series amply demonstrates how a useful standard - in this case ODF - can rapidly lead to the evolution of a rich and growing environment of compliant products, providing customers with variety, choice, price competition, and proprietary as well as open source product alternatives - in stark contrast to the situation that has prevailed in office suite software for the last many years."

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75 comments

ODF is fine for home use (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663439)

You know, your 10 line budget, writing the odd letter to grandma (who doesn't have email.) In the real world however, ODF is so bloated and slow that if you use it for anything of consequence, you better get a 4-way xeon if you want to open that 10,000 line spreadsheet in a reasonable amount of time.

BTW, ODF is a file format (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663490)

How is a file format "slow"?

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#15663552)

i wish i could post back to my own comments on this last time..

when reading a document like ODF (and anything based on XML) you have to read the whole file in to understand any of it (i know this isn't exact but i don't want to type it all out) with a binary format like a doc file.. what you need first is first.. you can understand a section by jumping to it and geting just that portion instead of the whole thing..

it is the same with saving.. updating portions of the file instead of the whole thing.

ODF is nice in that it is human readable and easy to write code to read and write them BUT it is slow.. you can only optmize so much in code.. if your working with a bad layout you can only go so fast

MS has spent years optimizing the doc format ODF was not thought out for speed.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#15663568)

Ok good old google.. i found my previous post

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=186756&cid=154 09236 [slashdot.org]

This is a much better explination

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15663663)

So I read your post, and I disagree with what you're saying. In particular there's where you talk about rar vs. solid rar. Well, I think that's a bunch of poppycock. There's no reason the data cannot be written out with a space left at the beginning for an offset for the TOC; you read the file until you get the offset, then jump to the offset, read the TOC, and then start parsing the file. If a solid rar doesn't do this, then there either must be something about the compression algorithm that doesn't allow pulling something out of the middle of the stream, or the guy writing it has to be short on imagination.

The same thing could have been done with a "text" format. Remember, binary, text... it's all a bunch of ones and zeroes. You can, in fact, represent 8-bit data using 7 bits, although it takes up more space... so the issue of text vs. binary is absolutely meaningless.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

solafide (845228) | about 8 years ago | (#15665982)

It is actually possible to represent "8-bit data" with 6 bits; less for certain datum.

Also, I don't quite comprehend why you couldn't just store 8 8-bit values as 7 8-bit values; could you explain that please?

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

temcat (873475) | about 8 years ago | (#15668027)

If I understand correctly, the slowness has to do more with XML than with text vs. binary. GP mentioned it, but then provided this link which is probably less relevant to the issue...

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 8 years ago | (#15663752)

Of course the thought of NOT religiously hitting ctrl-s every few seocond would never occur to windows users. The "save" function is not something normally showing up on profilers.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (4, Informative)

mmurphy000 (556983) | about 8 years ago | (#15663765)

when reading a document like ODF (and anything based on XML) you have to read the whole file in to understand any of it

And your proof for this assertion is...what?

Counter-proof: pull parsers and StAX [xml.com] .

with a binary format like a doc file.. what you need first is first..

And your proof for this assertion is...what?

Counter-proof: ZIP files [google.com] have their table-of-contents at the end of the file.

you can understand a section by jumping to it and geting just that portion instead of the whole thing

And your proof for this assertion is...what?

it is the same with saving.. updating portions of the file instead of the whole thing.

And your proof for this assertion is...what?

And please don't cite that RAR vs. Solid RAR nonsense from your previous post. Your analysis of RAR vs. Solid RAR is spot-on, but you have not demonstrated how either RAR's or Solid RAR's performance can be used as a predictor of the performance of .doc or ODF or hamster wheels or anything else.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#15664112)

do to the fact that i do not have much experience reading doc or ODF in code i can't comment on it exactly i was just giving an example directed at the question - which in both now and previous was - how can a file format be slow.

that is all - take it or leave it or bash it.. i was just talking from what i know..

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15665630)

Oh shut up already. You started claiming a file format was slow (A FILE FORMAT, FOR GOD'S SAKE!! WHEN IS A FILE FORMAT SLOW???) not having a clue about how to prove your bullshit or how are the other file formats like. You don't have a fucking clue and still you try to badmouth something just for kicks.

You are a retard and what you need to do is shut up. Shut up already.

P.S.: by the way, you complain about ODF mostly because it is XML but it seems that you forgot to mention that MS Word's new file format (it is never the same, is it?) is also XML with the added problem of being purposely obstructed with tie-ins. Damn fool.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 8 years ago | (#15664577)

according to this http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=196 [zdnet.com] Sun themselves say that ODF is significantly slower than Microsoft's XML format.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15666327)

Oh, no.. Not the "speed" argument again.

OS/2 2.1 and OS/2 Warp 3 would boot, and then be usable. Then came the OS/2 Warp 4 and Windows 95 betas, and there was a lot of fuzz about which of the systems booted faster. People actually clocked startup times, and put a lot of effort into making them boot faster. As the boot up times shrunk, the "the desktop is loaded, but it's still doing something which is taking so much CPU-time that it is unusable"-time grew.

In OS/2 Warp 4, IBM even allowed users to start using the system *during* *installation*. If you can't even wait for the installation to complete.. Then you really have to reprioritize things in your life.

Win2000 was even worse w.r.t. slowness after the desktop is up, and although XP is pretty fast to get to the desktop, I have to wait quite a while before I can start using it.

I never cared for the "boot time" argument, since.. If how fast your system boots is relevant.. Then you're not using your computer properly.

I would prefer if there was a big sign saying "Sure, you'd think you can start using the system now. But no. So just sit back and relax and I'll notify you when all crap has been loaded/swapped/or whatever the hell I'm doing."

If the time to load documents is a big issue to you, then you aren't using the office suite properly. The majority of time you spend in front of a word processor should be for writing documents; not loading them. I very much doubt that the load time of ODF document will be so long that it will be an issue to someone using the word processor properly.

Please don't make a fuzz abot load times. Because if you do, we'll get the same crap as with operating systems. Because they will want to make it *appear* as the document has loaded *really* fast, it instead take *much* longer before you can actually use the word processor/spreadsheet/etc.

My 2 öre.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15665586)

The OP is absolutely correct. The original MS Office file formats were specifically designed to be fast to load and save. Generally speaking, they are mostly memory dumps of C structs used by the programs. Just read some bytes into memory and the file is ready for display. Also, the files are smartly ordered so that the first page can be displayed quickly while the rest can be loaded in the background or as needed.

With an XML format there is lots more work to do. The file not only needs to be unzipped (probably on-the-fly with a SAX parser), but parsed also. There's just no way that unzipping and string parsing are going to beat loading memory dumps of program state. However, there is one important thing you are forgetting. A regular binary file can have forward references that can be resolved at any time. In order to resolve a forward reference in an XML file, the whole file up to the reference must be unzipped and parsed. If ODF has their style sheets at the end of their text documents, there's no way to properly display the text document until the whole thing has been loaded.

Since MS knows that performance matters, they created their XML formats with that in mind. They intentionally use short tag names (a spreadsheet with a million elements called "c" is going to parse 10 times faster than a spreadsheet with a million elements called "table-column"). They avoid forward references by using only backward references or referring to things in other members of the zip file that can be parsed in parallel.

The ODF schemata were designed just to reflect what capabilities OOo happens to have, and to be what a user viewing the XML would expect. They were not designed with an eye towards performance, so it is not possible to make an implementation that is as fast as native Office formats, or even native Office XML formats.

It is also likely that OOo is not a very good implementation of ODF with respect to reading and writing. It probably just unzips the whole file, parses it, puts it into its working data structures, and displays it; writing is probably the same thing in reverse.

dom

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

roynux (207014) | about 8 years ago | (#15665746)

It is also likely that OOo is not a very good implementation of ODF with respect to reading and writing. It probably just unzips the whole file, parses it, puts it into its working data structures, and displays it; writing is probably the same thing in reverse.

I'm pretty sure that we will see something like super optimized zip-fs libraries for reading and writing that would allow fast update of just some bytes in the files.
I can also think of a zip-xml parser, where the xml in memory is still compressed. It would read a block of the zip file into memory and uncompressed/recompress on the fly. Modifying the ODF file would be as fast as modifying a binary file.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (3, Informative)

Svartalf (2997) | about 8 years ago | (#15663768)

Reliability and consistency is first on my mind, followed up by speed.

Unless MS Office is a standard in the same sense as ODF now is, it's not as useful to me as ODF can be.
MS Office is only a standard in the sense that "everybody uses it"- here's a clue for you: not everybody does.

I don't. I don't send editable documents to people with formatting unless I'm needing
their editing input in the first place. I send PDF or PS files to people when I need a formally formatted
and printer ready document to go to people. Yes, MS Office is smaller. Yes, even ODF is smaller. What most people don't get is that it's less likely for someone to catch a Macro Trojan/Worm off of PDF files and they're honestly what you see is what you get- with an MS Office document, it's not guaranteed if you use a font they don't have on their machine- same goes with OpenOffice.

If it doesn't need formatting- it probably ought to be sent as a text email/file. If it does, and doesn't need editing, it probably needed to be sent as a PDF or similar. If it needs editing, you might want to consider something secure, something portable. MS Office formats are neither and can probably be said to not be so because they're little more than COM structured document stores.

doc is xml too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15664255)

I thought ms word now writes xml based "doc" files.

Re:doc is xml too (1)

steveg (55825) | about 8 years ago | (#15664444)

Nope. "Current" Word supports an XML file format. It's not .doc, nor is it Word's default format.

Nextgen Word will use an XML format as its native format. It will be the default, but it won't be .doc either.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (3, Interesting)

bit01 (644603) | about 8 years ago | (#15664523)

BUT it is slow..

You are mistaken. Have you had a look at the bytes of a typical binary format such as MSDOC? It's mostly zeroes.

A text format with general purpose compression (as ODF is) can be considerably faster than a primitive binary "memory image". The reason is that that by far the biggest limiting factor is disk speed, not CPU, and if compression can reduce the disk size then the CPU needed to decode the text is not important. That's why read+decompress is often faster than read uncompressed.

M$ have highly optimized MSDOC read/write routines. OO's routines aren't highly optimized. The ODF document format is almost irrelevant.

Typical numbers. This [oasis-open.org] is 719 pages. It's about 0.5MB in both sxw and odt forms. A typical disk drive can read 10MB/s (just measured it). The entire document can be read in 50ms. Modern PC's have memory speeds of typically 1GB+/s [virgin.net] . The entire document can be read from memory in 500 microseconds.

This doesn't prove that the ODF document can be parsed quickly but unless the ODF document format is totally brain dead, it does strongly suggest that decoding is not a big deal time-wise. It's not as if serial decompression and parsing is a computationally challenging task. e.g. This [irrlicht3d.org] XML parser read from disk cache the entire uncompressed 5MB (400KB compressed) content.xml from the above document and processed it in 0.7s.

So please, stop spreading the all too common student excuses about primitive binary formats being magically faster. They may be but it's not automatic.

---

Open source software is everything that closed source software is. Plus the source is available.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (1)

sxeraverx (962068) | about 8 years ago | (#15663556)

Uhh...I'm not sure, but I think it's because it's slow to read and slow to write. Formats can be slow to read/write by being compressed, by storing a lot of unnecessary data (like, for example, using XML for everything), and I'm sure there are other things. Feel free to add to the list.

well.. (0, Offtopic)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 8 years ago | (#15663626)

I've got a 3d Gene expression regulatory network format that's pretty slow.

Re:BTW, ODF is a file format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663704)

The guy who first responded to you is correct but perhaps overly critical of ODF while being overly praising of the .DOC format for no given technical reason.

Firstly, the file format is typically parsed into an internal RAM format. The file format only has effect when saving and openning, and even for 1000 pages in OOo we're talking less than a second (typically it's less) and this is nothing compared to the processing of any Office Suite.

ODF consists of a zip file containing content.xml, styles.xml, meta.xml, and a directory full of binaries like images. Editing one of these means opening these 3 files and parsing them, which was the easily understood complaint.

The alternative was a binary standard-width field approach as taken by MS .DOC. You can save a binary dump of the format (as early version of Word did) and save/open it quickly. You tend to acquire format cruft over time however because the format isn't easy for programmers to see mistakes in, which is why .DOC files are often larger than comparative ODF files. Parsing this cruft is difficult.

Now Microsoft are moving to XML too. Their patents were around single xml files with base64 encoding of binaries. I doubt if they'd use this in Word but you get the idea that processing/disk speed is meaning we can move to more coherent file formats. Abiword's .abw was always XML. Everyone is moving word processing formats to XML.

So the speed argument given to ODF applies to all modern word processor formats. Infact it was started by Microsoft in Massechusetts (sp?) to associate the speed of OOo with the ODF format and it's all FUD.

One of the most important issues around ODF is that server-software can process it without the overhead of a word processor. The same can't be said of current .DOC. The integration of ODF Converters [docvert.org] means that lean libraries can convert the format faster, so as you can see the format means speed in many situations.

Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (3, Insightful)

popo (107611) | about 8 years ago | (#15663440)


If ODF is the reason for this new plethora of Office products, then why is
"Reading and Writing Word documents" the very first feature they all brag about.

As much as I wish ODF were widely used, the reason OOo, Star and the rest
exist is because of MS Office pricing. And these products do little to erode
the prevelance of the .doc format. I use OOo daily, and no one has ever sent
me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (3, Insightful)

kihjin (866070) | about 8 years ago | (#15663481)

People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF. They wont know of anything better than DOC until we show them.

Of course, DOC is so engrained in our society that it will probably be around for another decade or more.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (2, Interesting)

Pneuma ROCKS (906002) | about 8 years ago | (#15663697)

People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF.

Exactly, it's a 2-way channel. People won't send you ODF if they don't use OOo or an equivalent, or they think you don't. I have lots of friends/coworkers which probably use OpenOffice, but I don't know for sure, so I usually go with a more "universal" format. I'll pick PDF if there's no need for editing.

I do ask some people if they use OOo, and yes, I have sent ODF files to coworkers I know use OOo.

Want to convince people? The free PDF converter is a very good selling point.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (2, Interesting)

Petrushka (815171) | about 8 years ago | (#15664049)

People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF.

Exactly, it's a 2-way channel.

I agree with your agreement. As this thread shows, plenty of people are using and sending people ODF documents. For my students (non-tech-savvy, mind you) I routinely post lecture notes etc. online in both ODF and PDF formats, with links to download free readers; when I send documents to (non-tech-savvy) colleagues, I regularly send them in both ODF and PDF formats; out of hundreds of people, no one has complained yet.

If they want to take the responsibility of editing these documents they'll have to take the responsibility of installing an editor; so far, those that have needed to have happily followed my instructions. For those that can't install OpenOffice or similar for some reason (e.g. they don't have root access on their Mac), I'll make a special case and send them a document in another format, usually RTF or CSV, occasionally doc or xls if necessary. Works fine.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15666044)

Hmm, you don't need root to install openoffice on mac, tho you do to install X11 if you don't already have it...
I`m sure you can still install neooffice without root tho.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | about 8 years ago | (#15671616)

I'll take your word for it -- I'm not a Mac user at the moment myself, so I know nothing :-)

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

owlman17 (871857) | about 8 years ago | (#15664545)

A little off-topic but related... despite the open-source, superior quality ogg-vorbis format, mp3 remains the top format of choice for compressed audio. As much as I'm a fan of ODF, I'd have to agree it will take a while for it to dethrone DOC. I've sent out ODF files only to get 'Please resend in DOC' replies.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (2, Insightful)

arose (644256) | about 8 years ago | (#15665238)

MP3 remains the top choice because everything reads it, this is not true for .docs by any measure.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663505)

I urge people to use the .rtf format whenever it is possible(.odt is just too unsupported). It actually works since people go through that little bit of trouble and don't save it as .doc

Catastrophe coming (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#15663564)

ODF is a format which can now be relied upon from now into the future. Something not to be sniffed at when archiving (or exchanging) information. Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?

MS lost the war on the 3rd of May 2006. They just don't know it yet. ISO 26300 commoditises the format of word/spreadsheet/database files. It's a lynchpin which has just been pulled from MS Office (and therefore Windows). From now they're going to have to compete on price and merit.

Independants can now take advantage of that without having to run to keep up with the doc format, though that's still going to be an issue for a few years as ODF replaces doc as the standard format. That's the catastrophe, slow at first and accelerating out of control rapidly as the market does what governments couldn't.

 

Re:Catastrophe coming (1)

TechForensics (944258) | about 8 years ago | (#15663643)

If only you were right. I really hope you are. But Microsoft has enough money to buy everyone except RMS and would if it wouldn't get them in monopoly trouble. I'm afraid they'll always be able to buy enough people and corrupt enough projects to keep their strangleholds.

Re:Catastrophe coming (4, Funny)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#15663687)

Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?

Why, for the same reason that all government offices make any decision, of course: because it's the sensible, logical, cost-effective thing to do.

Re:Catastrophe coming (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 8 years ago | (#15663988)

Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?
Why, for the same reason that all government offices make any decision, of course: because it's the sensible, logical, cost-effective thing to do.
Or: Because the governments want to use this ruse to get better discounts on Microsoft products.

Wait--that was sarcasm, wasn't it?

Re:Catastrophe coming (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#15666683)

Wait--that was sarcasm, wasn't it?

Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yes.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

TechForensics (944258) | about 8 years ago | (#15663610)

Yes, but only after I've converted it to some version of a Word .doc.

Maybe that's how ODF will make its way into common use-- everyone's using it because it's free, and converting to a format Word will read before sending. We could all change to Open Office right now if we were willing to live with losing some of the formatting frills.

For instance, in an office of 50 computers, only one might need Word (it could be an unused workstation accessible to all by VNC or even MSTSC!)-- for the plain vanilla stuff, everyone uses OO and cranks out .doc-compatible files.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (2, Interesting)

noldrin (635339) | about 8 years ago | (#15663649)

I've seen it happen once. And the person downloaded Open Office so they could look at it.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 8 years ago | (#15666156)

And the person downloaded Open Office so they could look at it
I assume this is a joke?

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (3, Funny)

killjoe (766577) | about 8 years ago | (#15663903)

"I use OOo daily, and no one has ever sent
me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened."

Nobody has ever sent you plain text? Nobody has ever sent you HTML (even in email?), nobody has ever sent you a PDF file?

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

jnuzzo (313424) | about 8 years ago | (#15664041)

Yes, they exist because of Office pricing.

But to succeed, they don't need to erode the prevalence of .doc format. The .doc format can live forever, who really cares about a file format that's .rtf under the covers? If the product is *REALLY* better (as opposed to simply NOT-Microsoft) then they have a start.

To succeed, they need to:
1. Provide a graphically-equivalent product. Nothing is worse than getting a document that's "Word-compatible" and then having it look different when loaded into Word; or getting a Word doc that doesn't look like it did in Word.

2. Provide functional equivalence (or superiority) including ergonomics. Not the garbage attempted by the likes of Lotus.

3. If they succeed at (1) and (2), then (3) must be widespread exposure.

Personally, I have not seen a competing product that's "superior" to Word, at any price. It would be really nice if somebody took the task seriously rather than the limp-ware popular in the Linux universe.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15664756)

In regards to the formatting issue mentioned in your first point: yes, it's a problem. I chalk it up to a case of the wrong tool for the job in a lot of cases. The real root of it lies in the long-standing tradition of using word processors for page layout. Part of that's because of the complexity, or at least percieved complexity, of proper page layout applications. The other part? Format/application wars, for which solutions have also been proposed; ain't quite "there" just yet from the perspective of a lot of the crustier "I paid X for Pantone's industry standard colored bits of paper and associated liscenced technologies" cross-section of graphic design folks and service bureaus, but it's probably damn close for the office worker. Of course, there's also the training issue, but let's forget about that for the moment. Instead: what can we do to discourage the fairly stupid practice of dropping unsightly tables, disproportionately scaled photos, tacky clip-art, and all that other crap into their word processor? How do we make it obvious that any word processor-created document less than 1000 pages and more than 2MB is probably not exactly a great idea?

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15665663)

Now that MS has started an OSS Office XML-to-ODF converter project (http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter [sourceforge.net] -- BSD license), it's quite likely that you'll be seeing them a lot more once Office 2007 ships.

The project seems to include a command-line converter as well as an O2k7 plug-in that can import/export ODF. It looks to be just a basic C# wrapper around some XSL conversions.

dom

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15666530)

Actually yes. And to my biggest surprise it was a carpenter building the deck for my house (not some Linux geek or something ;-) ). He sent me the calculation in Open Spreadsheet format.
Miks

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

Kancept (737976) | about 8 years ago | (#15666573)

Actually, ODF helped me land my job. One of the "not required" requirements was to know alternate software such as OpenOffice, and I was the only one who sent in my resume and cover in openoffice format. Noone else did. Then to top it off, I took my laptop with me, and it was running linux.

Re:Has anyone ever sent you an ODF document? (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15667035)

"no one has ever sent me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened."


Well if you posted your e-mail address, I would!

I just don't get it... (1)

PixelPirate (984935) | about 8 years ago | (#15663452)

While I am a HUGE proponent for choice, I just don't understand the logic behind creating Office suites like these. They are nowhere near as polished as the expensive Microsoft Office, and yet are far more immature than OpenOffice.org. I could understand if they released the office suite for free, but who wants to pay for an application that (ultimately) you don't no whether you will be able to get support for because the company could be a fly-by-nighter. I have similar feelings with yellowTAB's Zeta -- why charge $100 USD for a product that ends up costing almost as much as Windows with much less support, and must be paid for in comparison to Linux? I just don't get it....

Had you bothered to go to their site... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about 8 years ago | (#15663524)

and click on the "About" tab, you' d realize they've been in business since 1987.

A fly-by-nighter lasst a couple of years, at best.

Re:I just don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663639)

Who cares if they're temporary? They read and write STANDARD FILE FORMATS, meaning that you could just switch to a competitor for whatever reason tickled your fancy.

Who wants proprietary anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663486)

huh?

Great product, but not quite ODF (4, Informative)

rduke15 (721841) | about 8 years ago | (#15663531)

A very misleading article and submission.

I'm a big fan of TextMaker, which is SoftMaker's word processor. (I don't know the rest of the "suite").

But even though it is a really good word processor, it is hardly "ODF-compliant". In fact, this is my main problem with the program. By default, it stores documents in it's own proprietary format. It can save as MS-Word, which is what I do as a "lesser evil": it's also proprietary, but at least it is so widely used that I can expect to find converters for a long time. There is an .odt importer, but the exporter is still "in the works".

I don't want import/export filters. I want my word processor to use an open document format natively, by default. So I hope they will eventually completely switch to ODF.

Then of course, if the ODF is such a monstruosity as OpenOffice, I can understand why SoftMaker doesn't jump on the bandwagon... (yes, that's flamebait, but I mean it...:-)

An alternative would be to comletely open up the specification to their own format.

Re:Great product, but not quite ODF (4, Informative)

martin-k (99343) | about 8 years ago | (#15665378)

We are already working on ODF export, and it will be featured in a free servicepack later this year. When this is done, OpenDocument will be added as one of the "default file formats", i.e., you can set TextMaker to create OpenDocument documents by default.

Martin Kotulla
SoftMaker Software GmbH

Re:Great product, but not quite ODF (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 8 years ago | (#15665590)

We are already working on ODF export, and it will be featured in a free servicepack later this year.

Thankyou, finally a reason to actually bother to install my Textmaker back onto my Linux box. I got v2002 ages ago and was using it pretty entensively, but when OOo went to v2 and I changed from Suse to Ubuntu I didn't bother to install it back again. I still use the nice fonts though that came on the CD.

However, does this "servicepack" only apply to the Windows version? cos I really want ODF support (both directions) in the Linux version.

Re:Great product, but not quite ODF (1)

martin-k (99343) | about 8 years ago | (#15665605)

We have one set of source codes that works on all platforms, so OpenDocument import and export will be both in TextMaker 2006 for Windows and TextMaker 2006 for Linux, as well as the other platforms we are supporting.

Martin Kotulla
SoftMaker Software GmbH

Re:Great product, but not quite ODF (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 8 years ago | (#15665767)

ah, so I'll probably have to pay for an upgrade to Textmaker 2006 for Linux when it comes out then... Will there be a beta program first for existing owners to sign up for?

Re:Great product, but not quite ODF (1)

martin-k (99343) | about 8 years ago | (#15665779)

Yes. TextMaker 2006 is a totally new release (AutoShapes, Track Changes, comments, better Word filters, OpenDocument import, and a zillion other new things). And, yes, there will soon be a Linux beta (the Windows version of TextMaker 2006 is already shipping).

We'll announce the public beta program in our newsletter and on our web site.

Martin Kotulla
SoftMaker Software GmbH

Article mirror - server is slow. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663553)

Article mirror. [tinyurl.com]

MOD PARENT DOWN!!! (1, Informative)

Joey Patterson (547891) | about 8 years ago | (#15663561)

Parent is a troll!!!

WARNING: IGNORE PARENT (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | about 8 years ago | (#15663576)

The link does not go to a mirror at all. It goes to a site labelled "Family Medicine Notes: Docnotes - Occasional Notes from a family physician - since 1999". Except the AC screwed up, and it returns
Page Not Found Page not found - /images/2002/11/08/fracture.jpg

But the domain is www.docnotes.net, it was probably was intended to be some kind of gross medical pic.

Hmm, it's the 49ers all over (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 8 years ago | (#15663585)

What we have here gentlemen and lady who wandered onto the wrong site by mistake, is a good old fashioned goldrush.

Folks hear tell there's some erosion happening in the Microsoft foothills, and they want to stake a claim.

Next comes a marketplace awash with Wannabe Microsoft Office clones, all trying to eke some small living off the Open format that can be like the holy 'doc', and which they desperatelly hope is a way to get a decent market share. Sorry guys, the junkies aint switching, it's create an entirely new market or die.

I use ODF for *everything*, it's great, but these companies have got to realise, if all they can do is ape Office, then they're going against a battleship in a rowboat.

ODF brings a chance to create something new, a way to store documents in a unified format that means there will never be a place or time when they cannot be accessed. Not just the next few years, but centuries from now.

Microsoft have *never* offered this, unless the entire world plays their tune, and in spite of what you may have been told, there have been area's in computing where microsoft has never been able to venture. Without that they couldn't hope to dominate documents of all types, and you know they'd like to.

ODF can though, it has one huge advantage. Being an Open standard, it can be modified in full public view. Things will only ever be added if they enhance the document format itself, not to suite the perceived needs of a single vendor.

The only way to really exploit ODF is to break away from MSOffice like atributes, and start making something different and new.

Both of three things! (3, Funny)

knewter (62953) | about 8 years ago | (#15663621)

runs on both Windows, Linux and mobile platforms

I found the article both informative, entertaining, and grammatically confused.

Re:Both of three things! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 8 years ago | (#15666194)

I found the article both informative, entertaining, and grammatically confused.
Well that's 2 more (out of 3) than usual on /.

Apple: MIA (3, Interesting)

m874t232 (973431) | about 8 years ago | (#15663651)

There is set of office apps besides MS Office and OpenOffice where ODF really would make a difference: Apple's. But, instead, Apple Pages and Keynote use their own, proprietary format, a format that isn't even consistent between Apple's own releases.

Vendor lock-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15663997)

People usually rip on MS for stealing the GUI, why aren't people ripping on Apple for stealing the vendor lock-in? Everything Apple does, with formats, DRM and so on, is a textbook example on how MS has been doing it...

Re:Apple: MIA (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 8 years ago | (#15671019)

I have sent question to Apple's support about ODF support but got no response. I was really thinking about buying it - after pains of OOo on Mac OS (and not only Mac OS).

In the end, you have to recall that M$ own share of Apple and they have some sort of agreement. As long as M$ itself doesn't support ODF officially I'd expect Apple will not move a finger. What is rather sad reality.

I tries Microsoft Office out the other day (4, Funny)

Procyon101 (61366) | about 8 years ago | (#15663686)

I was using a Windows box the other day. Overall, the OS seemed solid and polished, so I installed MS Office.

Office opened up, I typed some characters... simple first steps. All seemed to be in order, so I go to try it out with some of my documents.

I go to open a document I have opened with a few other Word Processors.. nothing. Word can't read any of my standard ODF documents. All my other word processing software can read Word docs, but Microsoft can't read the basic, common denominator standard. So much for that.

So, on to spreadsheets. Open up an open document format spreadsheet with Excell. Excell somehow thinks this is a CSV formatted file of all things. I can't use any of my existing spreadsheets on this new software.

Rather than spen untold painful hours converting everything, I uninstalled office and installed OOo for Windows. It seems that MS has alot of work to do to bring their office suite up to par with current standards. As it is, it seems barely useable, *IF* you can get access to a Windows machine and only if that machine has MS Office installed, which is a fairly rare combination from where I stand. I wonder why I don't see more "Windows isn't ready for the desktop" comments, because from my vantage point, that's the impression I get every time I struggle to use the damn stuff.

Maybe I' m just in a foul mood today, but... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | about 8 years ago | (#15663783)

I was using a Windows box the other day. Overall, the OS seemed solid and polished, so I installed MS Office.

This first paragraph reeks of astroturfing. And not for Microsoft.

From the rest of your post, it's clear you're not a regular Windows user, much less an Office user.

If that's the case, where'd you get the Office CD to install on a Windows box (which, it appears, is not your machine)?

Re:Maybe I' m just in a foul mood today, but... (3, Insightful)

Procyon101 (61366) | about 8 years ago | (#15663851)

First sentance is a bit sarcastic ;)

GF's machine. She wanted access to some spreadsheets of mine and owns office which she normally uses on her laptop. In this case, I was using her desktop.

Needless to say. MS Office was not a workable solution because it didn't play nice with standards. Any number of alternative solutions were available, none of them Microsoft's. Other products that use a proprietary format can at least fall back to accepted standards as an alternative to work in normal environments... Microsoft Office does not. When even the small, open source products provide a trivial solution (or at least make a valiant attempt) to what in my mind is a fairly mundane computing task, I would expect a mature product to be up to the task. Microsoft's suite is not. For my purposes it is an inferior product, as I don't care how well it can intermix fonts and indent my letter, if I can't even read my letters, written to a standard, with their product, then their product sucks.

Re:Maybe I' m just in a foul mood today, but... (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 8 years ago | (#15664500)

I would hazard a bet that there are FAR more applications that read and write Office formats than there are that read ODF.

Re:Maybe I' m just in a foul mood today, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15664479)

Whooosh!

Re:Maybe I' m just in a foul mood today, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15665042)

You're a moron, right?

Microsoft to support ODF (just in) (1)

nickull (943338) | about 8 years ago | (#15666313)

http://www.betanews.com/article/Microsoft_to_Suppo rt_OpenDocument/1152166759 [betanews.com] "In a surprise move, Microsoft is bending to pressure from governments and will sponsor an open source project to build tools that enable conversion between its Open XML formats in Office 2007 and OpenDocument (ODF). The forthcoming Office suite will also support an add-in for saving directly to ODF." I have to go scare some pigs off my roof that just flew in....

Textmaker Platforms (1)

slapout (93640) | about 8 years ago | (#15666749)

FYI, Textmaker is also available for Pocket Pc and Linux PDAs. Don't know if the portable versions support ODF though.

Re:Textmaker Platforms (1)

martin-k (99343) | about 8 years ago | (#15666827)

Yes, the mobile versions of TextMaker support OpenDocument, too. In fact, they have all the features of their desktop counterparts.

Martin Kotulla
SoftMaker Software GmbH

OpenDocument is the way to go here... not some con (1)

AZteach (987652) | about 8 years ago | (#15707526)

I have been using OpenOffice and the OpenDocument format since it was available and have never had a problem... After a lot of discussion, the school where I teach (I'm the CIS teacher) is going to OpenOffice and the OpenDocument format this year- it's an international standard and 15 years from now we will still be able to open those documents created this year. (We store a lot of student records in digital form. And the discussion was whether to go OOo AND Linux this year. We're going Linux next year... ) An example... my wife wanted to open a set of Word documents created in an earlier version of Word using Office 2003- no luck. I had to set up a computer with an older version of Word, and then save them to a "newer" old version so Word 2003 could convert them. And this isn't the first time I have had to do that. Need I say more?
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