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French Co. Writing MS Plugin for ODF Support Found - Updated
Thursday, October 27 2005 @ 12:37 PM EDT

Remember yesterday, Dan Farber interviewed Ray Ozzie of Microsoft, and Ozzie said that Microsoft is not opposed to supporting ODF and is working with a French company to see what would be involved? There is a bit more than that happening. I believe a functional prototype is already available.

Two readers in France, Thierry Stoehr and Jean Roc Morreale, found the Paris company, Clever Age, that is writing the plugin to convert ODF to Word. And here's the project on Sourceforge. It is licensed under the BSD license, and runs only on Windows. Microsoft loves the BSD license, because they benefit from openness that works in one direction only. From the site:

This project aims at providing a plugin for Microsoft Word 2003 XML to open OpenOffice XML documents.
* Development Status: 3 - Alpha
* Intended Audience: End Users/Desktop
* License: BSD License
* Operating System: WinXP
* Programming Language: C#, XSL (XSLT/XPath/XSL-FO)
* Topic: XML, Office Suites, Word Processors
* User Interface: Win32 (MS Windows)

The project lists one developer, Denis Delangle, who is a member at Sourceforge since September 26, 2005. Well, Ozzie did say it was a matter of resources. Evidently they are not spending all their billions on this task.

September 26. Hmm. What happened then? Well, September 16 was the public meeting we all got to listen to; September 23 was the day Massachusetts' decision to go with ODF was announced officially. Now my memory is that Microsoft told us it would not support ODF. It wasn't until October 16 that the company began saying maybe they would, if there was enough customer demand. Meanwhile, there was work afoot.

Here's what Clever Age says on its website (it's in French, so a computer translation follows):

Clever Age a donc réalisé un prototype de convertisseur de documents OpenOffice intégré à Word, sous la forme d’un add-on. Ce convertisseur repose sur : un composant écrit en C#.NET qui ouvre un document OpenOffice dans Word, lance la transformation XSL et effectue les post-traitements ; une feuille de transformation XSL convertissant (en partie) un fichier OpenOffice en WordML (le format XML de Word). Le prototype est fonctionnel et permet d’ouvrir des documents OpenOffice dans Word ; cependant, tous les attributs du document initial ne sont pas restitués (sont préservés notamment : le contenu, les styles, les images, les tableaux et les attributs du texte). La procédure d’installation du plug-in utilise la procédure standard d’installation de composants Windows.

Clever Age thus produced a prototype of converter of OpenOffice documents integrated into Word, in the form of a add one. This converter rests on: a component written in C#.NET which opens a OpenOffice document in Word, launches transformation XSL and carries out postprocessings; a sheet of transformation XSL converting (partly) a OpenOffice file into WordML (format XML of Word). The prototype is functional and makes it possible to open OpenOffice documents in Word; however, all the attributes of the initial document are not restored (are preserved in particular: contents, styles, images, tables and attributes of the text). The procedure of installation of plug-in uses the standard procedure of installation of Windows components.

Here's a better, human translation:

Clever Age has made a prototype of an OpenOffice document converter integrated in Word; this converter is an add-on. It is based on: a component written in C#.NET which opens an OpenOffice document in Word, starts the XSL transformation and post-processes the result; an XSL transformation sheet converting (partially) an OpenOffice file in WordML (Word XML format). The prototype is working and it is possible to open with it OpenOffice documents in Word; all the attributes of the original document are not preserved (among others contents, styles, images, tables and text attributes are preserved). The plug-in installation procedure uses the standard installation procedure of Windows components.
The plugin works like this then, I gather:
- open an document in Word
- use XSL
- convert it to WordML

Their prototype is apparently functional but for the moment doesn't convert all the attributes of OO.o's documents but only these: tables, styles, content, image, text attibutes.

Morreale writes: "WinXP is the only system mentioned but the fact the sources are available should allow someone with knowledge in C#.NET/Mono to give a try."

Hilarious Update:

A Microsoft spokesman has issued an offical denial that the company is making plans to support ODF, according to TGDaily. Here's the statement, and note the careful use of words:

"We have no plans to directly support the OpenDocument format at this time," reads the statement, e-mailed to us this afternoon. "Our standards-based formats for Office 2003, as well as our announcement that XML will be the default file format in Office '12,' have been extremely well received by customers and partners, including over 330,000 developers who are leveraging Office's XML support already. We fully expect partners, independent companies, and competitors to provide converters between our Open XML formats and the OpenDocument formats, and are aware of a few projects along these lines already."

Also, I have learned that so far at least, no taping will be allowed on Monday, and Senator Pacheco has decided not to invite any vendors. So it is beginning to look like the showdown at the OK Corral is fizzling. Shining the light on FUD tends to have that effect. However, disability groups will apparently be there. You will also find David Berlind's latest article interesting.

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