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ODF Add-In - Screenshots

The tool adds an ODF option to the File Menu as shown ...

I then pulled an ODT file from Massachusetts (they're not that easy to find). It downloads as .zip not .odt so I had to rename it and then opened it . This flashes up briefly ....


and then, by the magic of software ...


Simon Phipps said:

Nice. Any idea why it's not just another file type on the "Open" and "Save As" menus, Stephen?

Oh, that thing about downloading as a Zip is a bug in Outlook I believe. It looks at the file header, spots it a Zip header and recasts the file type.
# July 6, 2006 9:34 PM

Stephen McGibbon said:

Hi Simon, in the current prototype, PDF, XPS and ODF are all treated similarly, with downloads available from the office download center. (We are putting the download pointers for PDF, XPS and ODF on the file save as menu. By going there you can download these things.  Once they are downloaded, ODF appears as is shown with its own menu bar so ODF can be opened there too as shown in the screenshots). This design is not final, and may change in the future. Interested to hear your feedback.

The zip "thing" is a MIME–sniffing issue, but in IE rather than Outlook. IE6 and 7 rename to .zip whereas Firefox and Opera both save as .odt. (No conspiracy – it happens with .docx too!). I’ve flagged it to the IE team and they’re on the case now.

Thanks for the comment and hope to see you before too long.
# July 7, 2006 6:07 PM

TrackBack said:

Article by Jeroen Doorn of that quotes me and links here.
# July 25, 2006 12:00 PM

Koen van Hees said:

ODF is and likely will be forever treated as a "special format". Something for those who know about it and care to download a plugin.

Now, I like Office (for mac), but little things like this add up. I have found myself using it less and less, while my needs become greater and greater.

This while the MSOffice GUI (for windows) for the first time makes me go "woow, nice".
# July 25, 2006 4:45 PM

Cedric Parker-Smithe said:

I would like to see ODF made the default format, and there most definitely shouldn't be a separate menu item for it.
If my company is going to upgrade its ~3400 machines to another version of Microsoft Office, Office will have to demonstrate seemless integration with ODF - including perfect importing from ODF. Office must also be able to make ODF the default file format from deployment time. Users can't be depended on to store documents in our companies chosen format.
Vendor lockin is expensive, and like any sensible organisation, we are ensuring that we are never again locked in single vendor software.
# July 25, 2006 5:26 PM

TrackBack said:

Groklaw has now posted a story "Microsoft Upset Over Groklaw's Article on ODF".

I hope the tone of the Dutch article didn't sound "upset". I didn't "attack" Groklaw either, but others can judge that for themselves.

I simply attempted to make three points in response to a question from the journalist:-

  1. That Groklaw was pointing to a post from an IBMer (I didn't also mention that Rob Weir is also a member of one of the ODF Technical Committees).
  2. That the ODF Translator project is Open Source with a BSD Licence, so if IBM, Sun or anyone else interested would like to they can contribute to the project.
  3. It's possible for the translator to be written to be the default option if that's what the project particpants decide to do (Microsoft ISN'T one of them). I pointed to Brian Jones' blog where he makes this point too. Brian writes ... "the Office object model allows you to capture the save event. So if you wanted to you could make it so that anytime you hit save you always used the ODF format, just by capturing the save event and overriding it."

So, hopefully not too controversial, or one sided, and if you came over from Groklaw thanks for visiting.

# July 25, 2006 6:52 PM

Jim Millman said:

I would like to voice my support for inserting ODF into the standard Open and Save As menu items.  It is too confusing otherwise (unless that is the intention!).  Users will, by habit and common sense, try to "Open" and "Save" documents when they wish to open and save documents.  Make the user go through another menu entry doesn't make sense to me.

I am happy that Microsoft is starting to listen to its users and supporting ODF, but I hope that it is utlimately done in a way that is useful and convient.
# July 25, 2006 9:31 PM

Stephen said:

So, if I click on File|Open, does the filter also show .odf as one of the document types in the directory?  Or do I need to know before hand that I'm actually searching for an .odf and go to its special menu?
# July 25, 2006 11:11 PM

Justin Sinclair said:

I would be interested in knowing why specifically you decided not to allow saving as ODF in the normal Save menu, and why you cannot choose ODF as the default save format.  Is it not obvious that users want this capability?  Were you thinking "hmm, I'll bet our users would rather go through these extra steps every time they save as ODF"?
# July 25, 2006 11:25 PM

Stephen McGibbon said:

Jim, Stephen and Justin, thanks for taking the time to comment. As you've read already, PDF and XPS are treated in the same manner, with downloads available from the office download center. I replied to Simon Phipps earlier saying the design isn't final and may change in the future. The key developer is CleverAge and if you feel really strongly I'd recommend you let them know over on SourceForge.
# July 25, 2006 11:50 PM

Allin Cottrell said:

"PDF and XPS are treated in the same manner" as ODF (Stepen).  But does that make sense?  I don't know enough about XPS to comment on that, but I do know that it makes sense to "wall off" PDF from the usual File Save/Open apparatus, since (special geek tricks aside) PDF is not an editable format; it's a page-description format.  ODF, however, is clearly intended to be an editable document format, at par with MS's "doc" or "docx".  So, IMO, it makes no technical sense to bracket it with PDF.
# July 26, 2006 2:27 AM

Stephen Boddy said:

(Not any of the previouos Stephen's, just to be clear)

I'm afraid Mr McGibbon that you are comparing apples and oranges. Neither PDF or XPS are "working" formats. They are end-consumer presentation formats. ODF is a working format, in that a document will be stored in this format for future work. In the event that I frequently revise a document, then I need the smoothest workflow. When I output to PDF/XPS it is typically the last step, and happens infrequently. So, for PDF/XPS, I don't mind a brief jar to my muscle memory. Therefore it makes far more sense for ODF load/save to be in the same place as all other "working" formats.
# July 26, 2006 3:08 AM

Rich said:

I wonder if individual developers can be held responsible for antitrust violations like this?
# July 26, 2006 11:29 AM

Col said:

I must agree that it would be more logical to integrated .odf support into the 'save as' menu and I would certainly prefer that.

Steve M, thanks for taking the trouble to blog about this and giving us the chance to respond - much appreciated! I'm not used to seeing inside the 'black box' as it were :)
# July 26, 2006 2:06 PM

Alan said:

I can understand why you'd want to treat it seperately. Though I think most people who require it as a default format or bound to ctrl+s will find it far easier to download a competing program.

Though if you don't believe office can compete purely on features - i.e. without lockin to it's own format - then poor support (which doesn't suggest the flaw is in the format) will assist the competition rather than yourselves.

Still I'll be interested to see what happens. A more balanced OS and Office software environment can only benefit all of us.
# July 26, 2006 5:36 PM

Sergio said:

Microsoft's customer for years have not been able to share their authored documents with anyone they want to; only other paying members of a private club with exception of the efforts of reverse engineering.  

ODF appears to be one way Microsoft can give their customers this choice since Microsoft's idea of open formats is closed source projects only.  

I vote that ODF be made available in the menu just like the plain text option.  Give Microsoft's customers the choice and freedom they deserve to share *their* documents with anyone they want.

I'm sorry if that's a threat to Microsoft's bottom line. That's not the customer's problem. Consider the customer's needs first and everybody wins something.  

# July 26, 2006 6:17 PM

Ian Jueks said:

As everyone else has commented, ODF is a working editable document format and like RTF, DOC, DOCX should be another file format within the regular save/open file dialogs.

And in order to comply with the Massachusets regulations "should be able to be set as the default format".

You can't rely on users to save in the correct format all the while (they're only human) and if the default id MS doc (or docx) then they'll forget once in a while, so some documents won't be saved in the open format; the point of the whole exercise after all is that an organisation using MS Word to edit documents will save ALL its documentation in an open format.
# July 27, 2006 11:41 AM

Bob Harvey said:

I'm a long-standing word97 user who felt that word2003 was a shambles of changed behaviour and intrusive automation.  Given that is it any surprise that I too would expect odf to be just another option in file-saveas or file-open, handled like .rtf or whatever?

I'd also expect it to be settable as the default.  Otherwise it become obvious that the software is trying to control my behaviour, rather than things being the correct way round.
# July 29, 2006 1:11 PM said:

I was just looking at Karel De Vriendt's ODEF (Open Document Exchange Formats) Workshop Conclusions

# March 21, 2007 9:26 PM