OpenOffice .doc format 4


Although it might not seem obvious this is a big open source topic both for technical and other reasons. On a technical level although OpenOffice/StarOffice can execute, read, and write .doc format documents there are some problems. For example I have found that OpenOffice 1.1.2 using a default install of Red Hat Linux 8 is not too bad, but does have a bit of difficulty with the layout of Tables.

Things get even more confusing with Fedora Core 3 and OpenOffice 1.1.2, which tends to expand say a 13 page document created with Red Hat Linux 8 and OpenOffice 1.1.2 into a 15 page document. I think this maybe to do with the CUPS print manager, which is the default install since Red Hat 9. To confuse matters further OpenOffice 1.1.4 and the beta 2.0 version will do something different again even when used with Red Hat Linux 8.

One way around the example problems given above is to create a pdf version of the .doc document. OpenOffice 1.1.2 will compress such a document into a fairly small file. This will usually end up being quite a bit smaller than if StarOffice 7 or early versions of OpenOffice are used.

Another technical solution might be to run Microsoft Word on Linux using WINE or Crossover Office. However some OSSG members could object to this because of course the source code for Microsoft Word is not Open.

At the time of writing this seems to be the most appropriate, but not fully ideal forum, for this article. In any event I suppose it could be argued that the almost de facto insistence by many organizations to put everything into .doc format is potentially a barrier on the communication of open knowledge.

Mark Elkins


4 thoughts on “OpenOffice .doc format

  • ptansom
    OpenOffice .doc format

    The problems with file formats are key to the lockin to proprietry systems. What you are using your application for can help in defining the best way of working for you.

    For example, if you are using your Star/OpenOffice package on Windows then you can use a Word viewer (or Excel, etc.) to view the documents you are sent and print them.

    If your primary reason for using the package is to produce printed or published information without the need to allow others to edit then using the native file formats is fine, along with the ability to save as PDF (which is a major bonus, and will become an even better proposition when Adobe Reader 7 is realeased – obviously not OSS software itelf unfortunately, but a big step forward in reading PDF documents on Linux).

    The big problems come when you are exchanging documents with others for frequent editing. If you are in a closed environment for this (i.e. within a company) then you have the option to standardise on the new package. If you are exchanging with another company/organisation then things get difficult.

    Exchanging regularly between Star/OpenOffice and MS Office for anything except fairly basic files is, unfortunately, not a good option (you are, after all, working with an import filter developed without access to Microsofts moving target of a file format specification).

    You do, however, have the advantage that, if the organisation you are working with is flexible, that they may themselves be interested in using Star/OpenOffice given that the latter is available without cost. This doesn’t always go down well though as in my experience many end users are very reluctant to use anything other than MS Office and would rather use ‘borrowed’ copies than change.

    Hmm, started this post this morning. I’ve been to the meeting since then and it is now late, but it looks finished so I’ll post and be damned! (Will that be content filtered?!)

  • mikendall
    OpenOffice .doc format

    To second what has been said already this is my experience of posting the group’s
    minutes to the BCS HQ in ODT format. (Identities obscured to protect privacy.)

    First email:
    Send minutes in ODT format.

    First reply:
    Thanks Malcolm
    The attachment wouldn’t open. Was it done with some peculiar Open
    Source program?!

    Second email:
    Hi XXXXXX,
    It was done with Open Office version 2.0 beta. What else would you expect?
    We are the Open Source Specialist Group after all.
    Do you want me to send you a MS Office compatible version?
    Or pehaps you can download and instatll Open Office (much better option).
    Here is the URL:
    http://download.openoffice.org/2.0beta/index.html

    Second reply:
    Malcolm
    I thought there was nothing on the reply until I have had another look
    and found it at the bottom. We are not allowed to download programs
    without permission. I will ask ‘IT’.
    Thanks XXXXXX

    FX waiting….
    FX messages at BCS HQ
    “XXXXX,
    Please do not download open office. We have had issues with the
    software. Could I suggest that you use a neutral file format such as
    RTF., YYYYY”

    Third reply:
    Malcolm
    I have had the response from our ‘Technical Architect’, IC Software.
    Please can you convert the minutes to RTF and send again.
    I nearly downloaded Open Office at home but it said that a vulnerability
    had been discovered, so I didn’t bother.
    Thanks. XXXXXX

    FX converting document…
    Third email.
    Hi XXXXXX,
    Thanks for your efforts to get Open Office installed in the BCS. The reply
    from YYYYYYY is sadly typical. A measure of OSSG success will be to
    change this.
    Attached are the minutes in a neutral file format ; hopefully not a neutered
    format.Best Regards, Malcolm Kendall, Secretary BCS OSSG

    All this took 10 days and 8 emails to achieve.

  • mikendall
    OpenOffice .doc format

    To second what has been said already this is my experience of posting the group’s
    minutes to the BCS HQ in ODT format. (Identities obscured to protect privacy.)

    First email:
    Send minutes in ODT format.

    First reply:
    Thanks Malcolm
    The attachment wouldn’t open. Was it done with some peculiar Open
    Source program?!

    Second email:
    Hi XXXXXX,
    It was done with Open Office version 2.0 beta. What else would you expect?
    We are the Open Source Specialist Group after all.
    Do you want me to send you a MS Office compatible version?
    Or pehaps you can download and instatll Open Office (much better option).
    Here is the URL:
    http://download.openoffice.org/2.0beta/index.html

    Second reply:
    Malcolm
    I thought there was nothing on the reply until I have had another look
    and found it at the bottom. We are not allowed to download programs
    without permission. I will ask ‘IT’.
    Thanks XXXXXX

    FX waiting….
    FX messages at BCS HQ
    “XXXXX,
    Please do not download open office. We have had issues with the
    software. Could I suggest that you use a neutral file format such as
    RTF., YYYYY”

    Third reply:
    Malcolm
    I have had the response from our ‘Technical Architect’, IC Software.
    Please can you convert the minutes to RTF and send again.
    I nearly downloaded Open Office at home but it said that a vulnerability
    had been discovered, so I didn’t bother.
    Thanks. XXXXXX

    FX converting document…
    Third email.
    Hi XXXXXX,
    Thanks for your efforts to get Open Office installed in the BCS. The reply
    from YYYYYYY is sadly typical. A measure of OSSG success will be to
    change this.
    Attached are the minutes in a neutral file format ; hopefully not a neutered
    format.Best Regards, Malcolm Kendall, Secretary BCS OSSG

    All this took 10 days and 8 emails to achieve.

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