ODF Plug-in for MS Office Released

Pohutakawa

Independence Day for MS Office users is here! I'm pleased to say that the Sun ODF Plug-In for MS Office has now been officially released. The Word-only version has been in beta-test for several months. The release version enables users of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to read and write documents in the ISO-standard Open Document Format (ODF).

Peter Korn reports that it works well with accessibility technologies, so that people locked in to MS Office by the lack of standards on Windows for AT tools are also free to work with colleagues using ODF. It works on Windows in Office 2000, XP and 2003 and is a completely free download. Support services are available if required. Now MS Office users can get the feature their supplier refuses to include - full ODF support intuitively implemented right in the application.

Here's what the team has to say about it:

The Sun ODF Plug-in for Microsoft Office allows users of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint the ability to read, edit and save to the ISO-standard Open Document Format. The ODF Plug-in is available as a free download from the Sun Download Center (SDLC). Download the ODF Plug-in.

The Plug-in is easy to setup and use, the conversion happens transparently and the additional memory footprint is minimal. Microsoft Office users now can have seamless two-way conversion of Microsoft Office documents to and from Open Document. The ODF Plug-in runs on Microsoft Windows and is available in English. More language support will be available in later releases.

Huge congratulations to the team who built the plug-in, and to the OpenOffice.org developers who wrote the code from which it has been adapted. Not that they should have needed to do that, of course...

Comments:

Had a look and this version is an improvement. There are still speed issues, so I wouldn't agree about the seamless bit - it's quite a wait to open or save anything. There are also underlying issues in trying to map Word to ODF - they for example when trying to deal with lists they get mangled. See my review, where the conclusion is that we're going to look into this for our open source ICE content management system.

Posted by Peter Sefton on July 04, 2007 at 12:44 PM PDT #

Peter, thanks for testing this so promptly, and for your comments. I will make sure we look into the conversion issues that you describe. Some comments on seamless, splash screen and speed: The splash screen only comes up the very first time you use it after system restart. It gives the user the info that somethings starts in the background, and first conversion is the slowest one. After that, further conversions are quite fast. Well - maybe not fast compared to the speed of Word reading/wring DOC, that's right. And last but not least: Seamless means the neat integration as a filter in the file dialogs, and that you can press Ctrl+S for saving modifications, and that ODF can become the default file format in Word. See also my FAQ here: http://blogs.sun.com/Malte/

Posted by Malte on July 04, 2007 at 05:38 PM PDT #

I just tested it with MSWord 2000. Unfortunately, although it displays the text portions of a test ODT file (created by OOo 2.2.1) just fine, all of the graphics enclosed in frames (the vast majority, as that is the way that OOo does captions) give an "Error! Reference source not found" message. There were also a few (uncaptioned) graphics not in frames; they displayed correctly in Word. Where do I file a bug report on this?

Posted by Jean Weber on July 04, 2007 at 10:09 PM PDT #

Jean, I assume this also happens when using OOo, store as DOC, and open in Word. IMHO Word can't handle pics in frames, but we should be able to transform it to something Word understands. If so, please file an OOo issue to the SW module, and also state that you saw this with the Plugin, so my colleagues are aware that the fix must also be integrated into this. Assign to MRU.

Posted by Malte on July 04, 2007 at 10:45 PM PDT #

Malte, you are correct, the problem I reported also happens when using OOo to convert to DOC and open in Word. I will file an issue at OOo as you suggest. Thank you!

Posted by Jean Weber on July 05, 2007 at 06:32 AM PDT #

Follow-up to my previous post: the latest developers' build of OOo (m218) appears to have fixed the problem when saving from OOo to .DOC. Pics in frames now display as they should in Word. That is good news! I hope the fix will soon find its way into the next release of Sun's plug-in for MS Office.

Posted by Jean Weber on July 06, 2007 at 04:37 PM PDT #

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