Help! I can’t open this ISO standard OpenDocument file on my Mac!

Yesterday I was reminded just how much work the OpenDocument group has to get before it becomes a usable standard. I say “usable” because as of now, I cannot use it. At least on my PowerBook anyway. Normally, I write my posts in a either OpenOffice or MS Word. I don’t have office on my PC so I use OpenOffice. Since Mac OS X is my primary platform, I own an MS Office 2004 license. I started yesterdays post while on my PC and I later attempted to finish it on my PowerBook. I saved it as an OTD, and then I was quickly reminded that it cannot be opened on a Mac OS X system.

It’s interesting that my home state is pushing for a standard that really on supported by one major Office Suite. There is this page which lists the appications that work with OpenDocument. But with the exception of AbiWord (which still leaves A LOT to be desired) nothing in that list runs on a Mac. Ignoring Windows for a moment, Mac OS X represents the next largest installed base for desktop systems. Mac OS X is still much bigger than Linux on the desktop. And please don’t tell me that OpenOffice will run fine under X11 or that NeoOffice is “will work.” Yes, they do work, but they are both unfished or do not integrate with the OS. Take a quick glance over at opendocumentfellowship.org, and it doesn’t look like much progress is being made on making applications that support OpenDocument. And lastly, the ODF Add-In for MS Word will only work on the Windows version of Word.

The other major word processor on Mac OS X is Apple’s own Pages which supports the current MS Word format. Seeing how Apple is on the ECMA Technical Committee for the standardization of the Office Open XML Format and not on the OpenDocument comittee, I can only imagine that the next release of Pages will support the Office Open XML format. Additionally, Office 2007 for Mac OS X will support the Office Open XML Formats as well. But still, not a peep from the OpenDocument community on how they intend for Mac uses to be able to work with this new “standard” format.

So come 2007, Mac users won’t be able open documents from the great state of Massachusetts, even though it is an ISO standard. It’s ironic that a standard is shutting out an entire platform! Wasn’t Microsoft accused of this 6 or 7 years ago? I’m all for standards, but when only a very small group supports a defined standard, is it really standard? Remember that Mac users are a whiney, pissy bunch who make themselves heard when we’re being neglected. With the current state of OpenDocument on the Mac, I’m hedging my bets that Microsoft will be successful at making Office Open XML the defacto document standard. That is of course if Adobe, which is an OpenDocument member, doesn’t swoop in the next few moths with a cross-platform Office Suite which intgrates with Acrobat and their graphics tools. Such a product on Mac OS X might be far more compelling than what Office 2007 might provide.

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6 thoughts on “Help! I can’t open this ISO standard OpenDocument file on my Mac!

  1. You said it yourself: “Remember that Mac users are a whiney, pissy bunch who make themselves heard when we’re being neglected.” NeoOffice works, maybe not that fast, but it WILL OPEN ALL ODF’s which you need and when you have NO opened once, odf’s open just as fast as a Word document. I agree that it should be in Pages but it is probably Micro$oft’s requirement to Apple that they wil keep on supporting OSX by making MSOffice for Mac. If there was no MSOffice for Mac it is most likely that Apple would support ODF.

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  2. You said it yourself: “Remember that Mac users are a whiney, pissy bunch who make themselves heard when we’re being neglected.” NeoOffice works, maybe not that fast, but it WILL OPEN ALL ODF’s which you need and when you have NO opened once, odf’s open just as fast as a Word document. I agree that it should be in Pages but it is probably Micro$oft’s requirement to Apple that they wil keep on supporting OSX by making MSOffice for Mac. If there was no MSOffice for Mac it is most likely that Apple would support ODF.

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  3. NeoOffice is a beta, which is a strong indication that it is an unfinished piece of work. For example, you’re still limited to printing at 300dpi when printing images. Also, it still feels and looks like a rushed port of a  MCF app to Aqua – that still doesn’t look like Aqua. Everything “kinda” looks like Aqua, but it is not Aqua.

    Also, can you quantify “slow as hell”? Personally, I find that Office runs significantly faster on a MacBook than on my aging PowerBook. By comparison, it took 2 full minutes to launch NeoOffice, under 10 seconds to launch Word. I’m glad you’re happy with NeoOffice, but it’s still not for me.

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  4. NeoOffice is a beta, which is a strong indication that it is an unfinished piece of work. For example, you’re still limited to printing at 300dpi when printing images. Also, it still feels and looks like a rushed port of a  MCF app to Aqua – that still doesn’t look like Aqua. Everything “kinda” looks like Aqua, but it is not Aqua.

    Also, can you quantify “slow as hell”? Personally, I find that Office runs significantly faster on a MacBook than on my aging PowerBook. By comparison, it took 2 full minutes to launch NeoOffice, under 10 seconds to launch Word. I’m glad you’re happy with NeoOffice, but it’s still not for me.

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  5. Well, I use Mac OS X and NeoOffice/J Aqua and I don’t see why it’s unfinished work. I had no single crash since I use it (I used it on Powerbook and now on my MacBook Pro). It does MS Office formats and also OpenDocument. I don’t know what you mean by OS integration, but I can open files by clicking on them, I have native printing and file selection dialogs and Spotlight searches in ODT files. I could not imagine what else do I need (unless I’m specifically looking into finding something).

    On the other side, MS Office is still for PowerPC platform and is slow as hell (running through Rosetta).

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  6. Well, I use Mac OS X and NeoOffice/J Aqua and I don’t see why it’s unfinished work. I had no single crash since I use it (I used it on Powerbook and now on my MacBook Pro). It does MS Office formats and also OpenDocument. I don’t know what you mean by OS integration, but I can open files by clicking on them, I have native printing and file selection dialogs and Spotlight searches in ODT files. I could not imagine what else do I need (unless I’m specifically looking into finding something).

    On the other side, MS Office is still for PowerPC platform and is slow as hell (running through Rosetta).

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