Interoperability: Open Source ODF/Open XML Translator and Microsoft Office

by jcannon on July 06, 2006 05:42pm

Linux Format reported on Port 25 recently with the tagline “Reports of snowballs seen in hell as Microsoft offers to work with Linux developers,” which I thought was funny.  It’s apparently getting even colder down there as we’ve now announced an open source project that adds support for ODF to Microsoft Word 2007 ("Microsoft Expands Document Interoperability").

A few months ago I started working with Jean Paoli, whose leadership on Interoperability at Microsoft is steadily moving product teams toward the goal of consistently delivering high-quality interop.  Brian Jones notes this in his blog but doesn’t call out Jean by name.  You can be sure that you’ll see more of Jean’s handiwork in the coming months and years.

During the time I’ve worked with him I’ve been greatly encouraged by his commitment to openness in documentation and in implementation.  The Open XML Translator project is a great example of this – it’s an open source project hosted on Sourceforge.

I couldn’t help but hop over to Slashdot and check out the reactions to the news – and as usual there was a mixture of the rational and irrational, hope and fear, insight and suspicion of conspiracy.  It’s worth making one point over and over.

The Open XML Translator is an Open Source project.
The Open XML Translator is an Open Source project.
The Open XML Translator is an Open Source project.

By definition it can’t conceal its implementation, is open to experimentation, modification, and commercialization (it uses a BSD license), and is owned by the community.

If you think it needs improvement, then improve it.  If you think it doesn’t matter, ignore it.  But above all, really think about it and what it means that we’ve taken this step before reacting reflexively.

This is actually something new and different.

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