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IBM Software Linux

IBM To Support OpenDocument Next Year 107

Posted by Zonk
from the happy-new-year-opendocument dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IBM announced this weekend that early next year it will begin supporting the OpenDocument standard in its WorkPlace line of products. They're planning on pushing this widely accessible format and their products in developing nations." From the article: "Rather than create an analog to Microsoft Office, IBM is offering editors for creating documents, spreadsheets or presentations within a Web browser. Documents are delivered via a Web portal and stored in shared directories. Access control and document management tools allow people to share and edit documents with others. Until now, Workplace supported the formats from open-source product OpenOffice, from which the OpenDocument was derived. Workplace Managed Client software also can read, write and edit documents created with Microsoft Office."
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IBM To Support OpenDocument Next Year

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  • Good Move... (Score:1, Informative)

    by TarrySingh (916400)
    It's time somwe heavy weights actuallt DID something in that regards.
  • by lord_rob the only on (859100) <shiva3003@@@gmail...com> on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:34AM (#14184229)

    Sun support, Novell support, Google and many many less-known software vendors supports. Now you can add IBM support and see that Open Document can become a huge success.

    You can read OpenOffice.org developpers' blog [go-ooo.org] to see many simillar stories of companies or organizations adopting opendocument standard.

    • Sun support, Novell support, Google and many many less-known software vendors supports. Now you can add IBM support and see that Open Document can become a huge success.

      Does it really matter... these companies are in the business of making money; if Open Document projects become unpopular and can nolonger be used for attracting clients, profit and political footing, the idea will be dumped like DEC's PDP-2.
    • I always thought that XML was supposed to by this mystical format that everything supported. Was I informed wrongly? And with this OpenDocument format, won't everyone simply go for the best word processor (for example) unless they have ties with a different one?
      • As far as I know, OpenDocument is XML-based; the file is a Zip archive containing schema information, several XML files, and all "embedded" data like images.

        So, yah. As far as I can tell XML is still the mystical format that everything supports (no matter how much of a bitch text parsing is to program).
      • XML files are by themselves somewhat open, but the issue comes in to play when you put in binary information in your XML file. This is what Microsoft is doing with their next version of Office. They will NOT make those binary files open to the public and thus they still will have a vendor lock in type of situation.

        • That's just a rumor -- it's not true at all. See The Myth of the Binary Key [msdn.com] in Brian Jones's MSN blog. It sure does get repeated on Slashdot an aweful lot, though.
          • Handful of obscure legacy features: There are a handful of obscure legacy features where certain pieces of the data are stored in a tag. We did this because of resource constraints when building the original XML file. An example of this would be some of our old legacy fields. We just weren't able to get to them, but we only did this for features where the use of them was very, very low. For Office 12, we've done the extra work so that even these features are now represented in XML. So if this is the binary
      • Bah, XML is, was, and will be overhyped. It's nothing more that a container format. The only thing in it's favor is that it's human (almost-)read/writeable.
    • Now you can add IBM support and see that Open Document can become a huge success.

      IBM's support was there right from the start (making the standard). If you go here [oasis-open.org] you will see that the participants in the Open Document TC are:
      • Adobe Systems
      • IBM
      • Intel
      • Novell
      • Sun Microsystems

      IBM is also selling Workplace Documents [lotus.com], based on source forked from OpenOffice.org about two years ago. Since this summer Sun droped SISSL [eweek.com] for OpenOffice.org (which is from 2.0 LGPL only) IBM cannot just fork OpenOffice 2 and get

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:42AM (#14184264)
    "The governments of India, China and other emerging markets are very interested in this," Fontaine said. "They don't have the legacy of having everything saved in Microsoft Office to transition from...This is an opportunity to start out right."

    What does this statement mean? Did China and India use pen and paper when doing their spreadsheets up until this year?
    Article on MS in China: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5197528/site/newsweek [msn.com]
  • by xoip (920266) on Monday December 05, 2005 @08:59AM (#14184354) Homepage
    Governments around the world have built on the M$ Word platform without an serious look at this defacto standard impacts the competitive environment and the choices of consumers. While there are formats available, the percieved lack of technical support and business model behind Open Office has slowed the adoption of alternatives. Support by IBM is crucial for the wide spread success of the Open Document movement and will go a long way to increasing market share.
  • Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:03AM (#14184381)
    OSS fans are always bitching about Microsoft, but they don't seem to have a good strategy for competing them. Microsoft did a lot of fairly simple but very strategic things to get their dominance, OSS developers need to do the same. Here are my ideas for increasing the use of open formats:

    1) Make Firefox display OpenDocument formats by default. I know that everyone complains about keeping bloat down, but if the OpenDocument format is going to get widespread use them people are going to have to be able to read it. Besides which, Firefox must already have 95% of the code required to do this.

    2) Make a standalone MS Office to OpenDocument translator from the OpenOffice code. I want a tool so that I can drag a Word Document onto an icon on my desktop and it automatically translates it to OpenDocument format. And it should be able to do batch converting too, and to output a log of what it's done and any problems.

    3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice. Concentrate on making OpenOffice a great tool for creating OpenDocument format files.

    I think many people approach this the wrong way, they say things like - "OpenOffice must be able to write MS Office files so that I can send them to people that only have MS Office." However, what we really should be aiming for is to get in a position so that anyone can happily say "Please send us the document in OpenOffice format" and so that if someone says "Can you send it in Word" you can say "Download Firefox - it reads all OpenOffice files."

    People are going to criticise this as unrealistic, but these are exactly the type of strategies that Microsoft used to get their desktop dominance.
    • Re:Strategy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ken kenobi (849375) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:17AM (#14184459)
      Dropping MS Office support would be the kiss of death to OpenOffice.

      I promise you the average user does not want to go through a convoluted process to edit their existing docs, they just want to hit Open...

      Keep in mind one of the ways MS Word overtook WordPerfect was by supporting the opening of WordPerfect files

      • Dropping MS Office support would be the kiss of death to OpenOffice.

        I strongly disagree. I think MS Office support is the kiss of death for OpenOffice, mainly because it encourages the continued use of MS formats and makes OpenOffice appear to be an (inferior) subtitute for MS Office.

        Having people open an MS Word document in OpenOffice and then saving it again in Word format is just crazy, and yet this is what OpenOffice (inadvertantly) encourages people to do. Some issues

        Firstly, it puts an increadable bu
        • Re:Strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vidarh (309115)
          Personally, I'd have to drop OpenOffice if I couldn't read and write MS Office files. Why? Because that's what I receive and that's what people expect 90% of the time or more. That is THE feature I need in a word processor - anything else I can compromise on. Sad, I know, but that is what we have to deal with until Open Office has a far greater market share than it currently has.

          Messing around with an external converter would piss me off, possibly enough that I'd write a patch to make open office automati

    • 3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice. Concentrate on making OpenOffice a great tool for creating OpenDocument format files.

      People share documents in editable form so that changes can be made by all participants. There is no other reason for a standard.

      I think that the wiki is the better alternative to all of these applications.

      1) You can secure a wiki by resticting participants.
      2) You can make the wiki available to anyone with a browser regardless of the systems OS or hardware.
      3) You can

      • People share documents in editable form so that changes can be made by all participants. There is no other reason for a standard.

        I assume by this you mean MS Office is the standard... What I'm talking about is changing people's attitudes so that OpenDocument is the standard.

        Yes, wiki's are nice. Wouldn't it be great if you could edit your wiki in OpenDocument format in OpenOffice, and you could view it Firefox? Wouldn't that be wonderful?
         
    • 3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice. Concentrate on making OpenOffice a great tool for creating OpenDocument format files.

      You need compatibility with mainstream product in order to enter the market.

      • You need compatibility with mainstream product in order to enter the market.

        I don't think you need 2-way compatibility, though. As I recall, Microsoft Word could only open Wordperfect files, but not save them in the Wordperfect format. Why doesn't OO.o do the same?

    • Re:Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:38AM (#14184610) Homepage
      However, what we really should be aiming for is to get in a position so that anyone can happily say "Please send us the document in OpenOffice format" and so that if someone says "Can you send it in Word" you can say "Download Firefox - it reads all OpenOffice files."

      "Sorry, Firefox is not in our default installation and I'm not authorized to install software (and IT will not support it)." Send them a document they can't open once, they get slightly annoyed. If they reply asking for a document in Word, and you still can't provide, they are considerably annoyed. If it was your jobb application, you're probably dropped at this point. If not, you're probably already marked as a "difficult" customer.

      If you want to get to that position, you shouldn't be so quick to shoot yourself in the foot. What you are describing is a good strategy to close a market - to get you from largest player (maybe 30-50%?) to monopoly. It's probably one of the worst ideas for gaining initial market share, since you'll see more abandonment (OO can't interoperate with anything, I'm getting MS Office) than converts.
      • Re:Strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pubjames (468013)
        "Sorry, Firefox is not in our default installation and I'm not authorized to install software (and IT will not support it)."

        Well, of course in that kind of situation then the only thing to do is to send them a Word document, (or better - a PDF).

        But it misses my point, it's about mindshare and attitude - we need to get to a point where people and companies will start to feel embarrassed that they can't read OpenDocument formats.
        • I agree with this thread - one of the first things we got asked for when we got Writely running was word upload and download (and OpenOffice too).

          BTW - now you can upload the file into us and send the recalcitrant user a link instead of a word file, if you like. That's why we wrote Writely the way we did, so that the "I can't use it, I can't install software" excuse doesn't work.

        • But it misses my point, it's about mindshare and attitude - we need to get to a point where people and companies will start to feel embarrassed that they can't read OpenDocument formats.

          I think this can be done without dropping support for any format in OpenOffice.org. When the document is not too large, it can be sent in several formats at once. When there are no specific requirements, I usually send people both OpenDocument and PDF versions of my documents - that way, almost anyone should be able to re
      • If you've got a drag-and-drop standalone ODF/MS converter, it's no problem to convert the document if you don't think you're in a position to boss the recipient around. Ideally, you want to make Office compatibility a feature of your mail client, so that you can have it make Office files when you send a document to someone who can't deal with ODF.

        Of course, what I really want to see is a Word macro for reading ODF. That shouldn't really be all that hard, since ODF is easy and Word's macro system obviously w
    • Re:Strategy (Score:3, Funny)

      by duffbeer703 (177751)
      <i>People are going to criticise this as unrealistic, but these are exactly the type of strategies that Microsoft used to get their desktop dominance.</i>

      Not really. I regularly open documents written in Wordperfect 5.1 in Word.
      • But, can you write them back in Wordperfect 5.1 format and have Wordperfect 5.1 be able to open the files without error?

    • Re:Strategy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by caudron (466327)
      these are exactly the type of strategies that Microsoft used to get their desktop dominance.

      Those are the things MS did to /maintain/ dominance. To /get/ dominance, they did things like allow us to tweak the system (anyone else remember the joy of eeking another 3k on bootup in MSDOS?), being freindly to programmers (OSS will get no mainstream developers as long as they continue to beleive that Glade is the end-all-be-all GUI designer...Visual Studio has THE BEST in the biz. Deal with it), and all around
    • Re:Strategy (Score:1, Interesting)

      by jc87 (882219)
      I for example , usually open my father work docs in ubuntu (he is a policeman , and around here , government unfortunally still uses M$ in almost every public place) , if OOO didnt suport it , i would be forced to have M$ wintendo plus M$ office to open them , and for me , wintendo is only for playing Counter strike source , not for anything else. Besides ,removing the M$ office compatibility , would be playing the same kind of dirty game that MS plays with theirs closed formats.
    • Re:Strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smchris (464899)
      3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice. Concentrate on making OpenOffice a great tool for creating OpenDocument format files.

      Same argument I used to hear when I was running OS/2: "Don't buy WordPerfect 7 (probably the last Win 3.1 version) that would run on WinOS/2, buy an OS/2 word processor.

      We can see how well that worked out. The important thing is that IBM (gulp) is helping to promote a _new_ standard.

    • 1) Make Firefox display OpenDocument formats by default.
      2) Make a standalone MS Office to OpenDocument translator from the OpenOffice code.
      3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice.
      ...these are exactly the type of strategies that Microsoft used to get their desktop dominance.


      No it's not. Internet Explorer doesn't display Office formats by default and never has. There is no standlone other-to-Office translator and there never has been. And Microsoft initially had strong support for just about
      • Internet Explorer doesn't display Office formats by default and never has.

        I said "type of" not "literally the same". IE wasn't even around when Microsoft was building its Office monopoly.

        There is no standlone other-to-Office translator and there never has been.

        So? Personally I think it would be a good thing to be able to translate directories full of MS Office documents into OpenDocument format.

        And Microsoft initially had strong support for just about all of the competing formats so that people had upgrad
    • Half of the people out there wouldn't be able to install OpenOffice to actually open the files. When you are sending to someone at a large corporation, they usually wouldn't have the admin rights to install programs. And half of my customers wouldn't know HOW to install it. I'd have to walk them through it. I'm not about to do that. Its a major change, and it will take time. But it will be a change for the good.
    • 3) Take out the MS Office compatibility from OpenOffice. Concentrate on making OpenOffice a great tool for creating OpenDocument format files.

      That would kill OpenOffice instantly. Even OpenOffice fans (like me) could no longer use it.

      I agree on 1 and 2, though.

  • Great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:12AM (#14184428)
    Another IBM product you never heard of is going to use open document. Anyone who uses these obscure IBM products has been drinking so deep from IBM's koolaid well, that they will never use a non-IBM product anyway. Thus the adoption of open standards will have zero impact on those customers.
    • But, well, IBM is symbol of computing age. It is example for others to follow; and remember - almost everything we use now has its roots in IBM 20 years ago.
      • I'm not sure which things you are referring to:

        Ethernet - Not invented by IBM (NIBIBM)
        Mouse - NIBIBM
        GUI - NIBIBM
        C/C++,Java and just about every computer language in use today - NIBIBM
        Unix - NIBIBM
        Laser Printers - NIBIBM
        .
        .
        IBM was a symbol of the computing age. Just not in the last 20 years.
    • I think it ends up being a numbers game. If the Open Document format is used by many different applications and can show great interoperability between these different apps, it makes a MUCH stronger case for decision makers in companies to standardize on the format.

      Furthermore, it can assist in putting pressure on developers to add support for the format (see: snowball effect).
  • by Mjlner (609829) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:17AM (#14184460) Journal
    ...for almost any post labled "Linux" on Slashdot is, of course, why is this labled "Linux"?

    Granted, this is good news for the linux community, as much as it is good news for people who use lots of other operating systems which do not run certain proprietary programs. Most of all, it is good news for anybody interested in using an open format instead of a proprietary format, regardless of the platform which may or may not be proprietary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:34AM (#14184575)
    This misconception is not helped by the presence of Tux at the top of this report. /. should know better.

    ODF is a format for saving documents. It is platform independent and there is no reason why it should not be used by any application that creates documents, whether open or closed source.
  • by HexaByte (817350) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:05AM (#14184805)
    This is just another crack in the MSOffice dike.

    Several national governments are now mandating Open formats for thier documents, spreadsheets, etc. The more they are adopted, the more Bill and Company will have to compete on quality, features and price, not "Only we are 100% compatible with our proprietary format".

    Now, if we can only convince the the Feds, or at least several more states, to make OD format the standard, we can make real progress. After all, most of Bill's bucks come from the US, and if we don't get the changes made here, we have so much less impact.

    My 2 cents.

    • ...you'll never nuke out Bill from US. China & Russia are our friends.
    • Several national governments are now mandating Open formats for thier documents, spreadsheets, etc. The more they are adopted, the more Bill and Company will have to compete on quality, features and price, not "Only we are 100% compatible with our proprietary format".

      Quality and features are exactly the things that OO.o has been unable to compete on. That's why they developed OpenDoc (based on what was already the OO.o format, so it's not like there was much work there) so that they could compete simply ba
      • That's why [OpenOffice.org] developed OpenDoc ... so that they could compete simply based on "We have an *open* format" and nothing else. Office12 makes OO.o look like utter trash.

        That may be, but you are completely missing the point of having open standards.

        This is not about "open source must crush Microsoft at any cost!" This is about making information available in a format that a single company does not control.

        If Microsoft were to fully support the OpenDocument format in the next version of Office, the
      • Quality and features are exactly the things that OO.o has been unable to compete on. That's why they developed OpenDoc (based on what was already the OO.o format, so it's not like there was much work there) so that they could compete simply based on "We have an *open* format" and nothing else. Office12 makes OO.o look like utter trash.

        I beg to differ. While OOo may not be "cutting edge" on all features, it is mature and stable, more so than many office suites of just a few years ago.

        And that's the problem

  • by Dutchmang (74300) on Monday December 05, 2005 @10:42AM (#14185108)
    One error in the report is that it's a Web-based implementation. It's actually an Eclipse-based implementation. The container for the ODF-compliant editors is IBM Workplace Managed Client [ibm.com]. The container itself is a very interesting thing because it lets you build applications of just about any type, which are then deployed with the client over the network (or added to existing deployed clients as the case may be.) It also runs unmodified across Windows and Linux, because the Eclipse/Workplace layer does all the interaction with the OS windows, file system etc.

    The point about the ODF support is that, like all standards, it takes interoperability out of the equation and lets vendors compete on the implementations. OpenOffice is essentially a MS Office competitor, using the same desktop-centric deployment and support model, except with open source and cross-OS capabilities. This is good for folks who like the MS Office "way" but want choice. IBM is approaching the problem of desktop productivity tools a little differently, as a locally installed but network managed app. Again, innovating in the implementation because the standard lets you do that.
  • IBM Office Suite. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by saintlupus (227599)
    What ever happened to SmartSuite, anyway? I used to have a roommate that swore up and down that it was the best office suite in the industry. Do they still make that?

    --saint
  • IBM announced this weekend that early next year it will begin supporting the OpenDocument standard in its WorkPlace line of products.

    Oh, wow! I almost get the feeling that OpenDocument just appeared in final form and IBM is an early adopter -- NOT!

  • I think that IBM is smart to try this in developing countries first. For one thing, when you do not have a well established standard, it is much easier to try something else - and maybe even make that "something else" a standard in those countries. There have been well documented cases concerning the resistance to change in the U.S., even though there are now quite a few viable alternative desktop environments.

    I have been using alternative desktop environments for the past twenty years. For many years, I

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