Yesterday I was reminded just how much work the OpenDocument group has to get before it becomes a usable standard. I say â€œusableâ€ 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 â€œwill work.â€ 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 â€œstandardâ€ 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.