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Fellows » numerone » Articles » Text Processors

HowTo: Open and write the most importants documents with the preferite text processor

A format is the language that a program uses to understand a file. On windows the extension is a method to associate a format to one program, but the extension is not the format because it can be changed.

Have you tried to change the extension of an mp3 to doc and open it? Microsoft Office or Wordpad cannot open it because the file is written in a language that they cannot understand: even if the extension is doc (because you changed it) the format is not doc, but is mp3.

In real life, for text documents, format can be simplified as the paper on which the words are written.

Unfortunately, in computer science very few things are free, so that paper is not bought, but is licensed.

What happens if the owner change license? The worst thing is that you cannot read your documents!

So a format should be free (free as free speech, not as free beer).

Let examinate another scenario: you have written some documents using pirated office, but one day microsoft win it's war with piracy.

OpenOffice cannot understand doc format very well, so you have two ways:

  1. Buy an original version of office
  2. Renounce at your documents

If a format is standardized, it can be successful read with any program that implements it.

So if a format is free and standard, it can be read from any program!

For many years microsoft has tried to impose it's own formats as standard de facto; but now, thanks to justice, they works for interoperability.

So Office 2007 can write PDF, can read OpenDocument etc.

Unfortunately all this thing can be done with plugins that are not included.

Office 2007 has even a new format Office OpenXML (extension docx) that can be read from previous versions of office only with a plugin.

Reading and Writing OpenXML with Office 2003 or previous

The plugin can be found here.

It requests the .NET Framework.

Reading and Writing OpenDocument (odf) with Microsoft Office

Microsoft has included ODF support with SP2 of office 2007, but this support has been accused to not be compliant to standard. So there are two ways for obtain a complete interoperability:

1. Sun Microsystems' plugin. There is only one installer for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Reading does work with Office 2007 only with SP1 because of a bug of word. From version 1.2 comments are converted. It does not recognize protection options.

2. Microsoft's odf converter. The file must be saved in any of the format known by Office and then converted. It support comments, and recognize when a file is protected, but it cannot open it.

Writing PDF with Office 2007

From sp2 of office 2007, pdf can be exported as well. Before sp2, microsoft has made an add-on Protection options are not exported. The option for exporting bookmarks is disabled by default, but it offers make as bookmark the titles of document or the bookmarks of word.

Reading and Writing DOC and Writing PDF with OpenOffice

OpenOffice supports natively Doc and PDF, so no plugins are needed. In PDF notes are not explorted and it make as bookmarks the various titles of the document.

Reading and Writing OpenXML with OpenOffice

OpenOffice 3.0 support natively this format.

Reading PDF with OpenOffice

Sun Microsystems is working to a plugin for OpenOffice 3.0 that will make possibile open pdf with openoffice Draw.

Changelog

10/05/09: Article was update with office 2007 sp2 features.

12/04/09: Article was submited to new FSFE Fellow site and was updated with openoffice 3,0 features

28/09/07: Article released on FSFE Fellow site

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