February 1, 2007 9:00 PM PST

Microsoft to release ODF document converter

A Microsoft-sponsored open-source project is expected on Friday to release a translator that will convert file formats between Microsoft Office and rival standard OpenDocument, or ODF.

Microsoft started the project at SourceForge last year, relying on three partners to develop the code that lets a user open and save word processor documents in two different formats.

The Microsoft format is called Office Open XML (OOXML), which is the default document format in the company's recently released Office 2007 suite. The other is ODF, which is backed by Microsoft competitors IBM, Sun Microsystems and Novell.

The plug-in will work with Microsoft's Word application, including the latest Office 2007 version as well the Office 2003 and Office XP editions, Microsoft said. Once installed, a person can open and save documents in the ODF format from Word.

People can download the software, available under the open-source BSD license, for free from SourceForge on Friday. Microsoft intends to make the software available from its own Web site as well, the company said.

The same group of Microsoft partners will now start work on code to translate file formats between Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software and the corresponding ODF files, said Jean Paoli, the general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft.

Those plug-ins, which will also be developed as open-source projects, are expected to be available by the end of the year, he said.

Novell last year said it will use the Word translator to allow users of OpenOffice, which supports ODF, to work with OOXML files from Microsoft Office.

The delivery of the first document format translator comes at a time of growing interest in electronic document standards.

ODF has emerged as a viable document format and been integrated into commercial products. Microsoft, meanwhile, has standardized the Office Open XML (OOXML) document formats at Ecma International and is in the process of seeking certification with the ISO, or the International Organization for Standardization.

Adobe Systems, too, said last week that it intends to submit the full Portable Document Format, or PDF, to ISO for standardization.

Critics of Microsoft's OOXML have complained that it overlaps with the functionality already in ODF and that there should be only one standard. Others have complained that the specifications--at more than 6,000 pages--are too difficult to implement in products.

IBM, a vocal advocate of ODF, was the only representative to vote against making OOXML an Ecma standard. Now it is seeking to block its ISO standardization as well, said Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager of interoperability and standards.

"The most vocal opponent is a competitor (that) has business reasons to try to stop the process from happening and I think that's unfortunate. By doing that, it's creating an environment where choice and innovation would be limited," he said.

Robertson said he expects many document standards to exist to serve different purposes and markets.

Paoli said that although the specification is large, developers are free--both legally and technically--to implement only components of the full documentation.

See more CNET content tagged:
OpenDocument Format, SourceForge, general manager, Microsoft Office, open source

8 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
"IBM,...
... a vocal advocate of ODF, was the only representative to vote against making OOXML an Ecma standard. Now it is seeking to block its ISO standardization as well, said Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager of interoperability and standards."; this action by IBM may very well have "some" merit; the point being - why should OEMs at this stage of the competition concern themselves (be distracted from their business objectives) about yet another ISO standard when one already exists; also, in the first instance - why on Earth did Microsoft not attend the Open Document Format Standards parties when they were held, were the folks on the Redmond Campus still practicing their crowd-pleasing dance moves or what!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Only Now!
"The same group of Microsoft partners will now start work on code to translate file formats between Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software and the corresponding ODF files, said Jean Paoli, the general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft...."; As previously mentioned; and, a point of reference here is an extract from a 1998 Lotus Development Corporation communication; Re: Concerning the issues with 1-2-3 that are talked about in the documentation you gave me, most of the issues are related to converting files between older and newer versions of product and converting documents between Lotus and Microsoft. Anytime a file is saved backwards or saved with an older file format than the format the file was created under, such as saving a 1-2-3 , 97 file for Windows 95 into a WK1 format for DOS, then naturally we are expected to loose certain features due to technology and features that are present now that were not present 8 - 10 years ago. Similarly, if we try to convert a file from Lotus into Excel or Excel into Lotus, due to differences in the products not every feature will be converted perfectly with the file filters that are available. Both Lotus and Microsoft create similar spreadsheet programs; however, there are several differences in both programs and these differences will remain to distinguish the products apart. We do try to design conversion filters that will allow as much of the file formats as possible to be exchanged and converted without disrupting the actual file design and format.

In one of your letters you made mention of the @IRR and @ERR functions in the 1-2-3 product. By design the @IRR (notably "absent" in Open Office) will calculate the Internal Rate of Return; where the @ERR is used in conjunction with other formulas, posted was an "ERR" showing an error was received in the calculations. As far as I can see in the program I cannot find an @ERR function that will allow us to calculate an Economic Rate of Return". Why after all of these years since it was determined that there may be several differences in various OEM programs and "these differences will remain to distinguish the products apart" it appears that it is only now as this article states that "The same group of Microsoft partners will now start work on code to translate file formats between Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software and the corresponding ODF files"! As it is now 2007... it appears also that there are no more time-outs for the Office Team from the Redmond Campus. Huh!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The AC/BC SpreadSheet Concept!
Question: When does a "new" project year starts? On the temperature scale if the temperature drops to below 0' then the temperature is read in negative readings... taking a look at both Excel, OpenOffice.org Calc... they all apparently portray a positive 1A, 2A... 1B, 2B Column and Row configuration. When will Microsoft or the OpenOffice folks come up with a SpreadSheet program that portray a negative 1A, 2A... 1B, 2B Column and Row configuration (meaning that one is able to view past financial performances of projects) as is with the case of the temperature scale readings. Wow! Why did they not think about that?
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Answer!
Developers at Redmond... should sit down with certain analysts... and agree on how the given "tools" must operate to adequately address certain tasks at hand. Now that we are talking standards... maybe, its time for some to get back to the design board!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
openoffice.org
openoffice.org

I visited it 2 days ago and downloaded the latest version for OS X PPC CPU. First Open Office has the most distributions for the wide array of different computer platforms that exists in the market place.

Microsoft only develops for it's own OS and does a 1/2 ass job for the Mac platform, and Access is not even included. (Visual Basic can't be licensed under Apple OS X or what ?).....

After some time playing with it, I realized that it is not as good as Office 2003, but close, and there are some features in it that are even better then Office 2007. For Macros you can use 4 different languages to work with, you are not limited to VBA. I like VBA, but just saying, that's something right there...

Anyways, I really hate the new Office look, but will probably have to learn it for work related.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and the best part
ahhh and I almost forgot, the greatest feature of openoffice.org is it's price - free $0.00

No license BS restrictions, I can install it on 100 computers and it's still free.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
and the best part
ahhh and I almost forgot, the greatest feature of openoffice.org is it's price - free $0.00

No license BS restrictions, I can install it on 100 computers and it's still free.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.