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ZeroGravitas 513 days ago | link | parent

Strange that if you create a Word Processing format so byzantine that even the combined might of IBM, Sun, Google and the open source community can't reverse engineer it, (and that you yourself struggle with when porting to Mac OS X or Win 8 RT) that the result is people considering you the safe option for their government data.


2muchcoffeeman 513 days ago | link

It's not just the format. MS Office really is better than Libre Office. Even Apple's iWork suite is better than Libre Office.

And now that everything is becoming mobile. What choice do you have? The only office suites that work on mobile devices are Office and iWork ...

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pbhjpbhj 513 days ago | link

>The only office suites that work on mobile devices are Office and iWork ... //

Under a very narrow definition of "mobile".

Isn't that where VNC's come in. In a corporate environment why would you attempt to duplicate apps on a mobile device rather than simply securely tunnel to a local instance running all the standard apps on the internal network?

I guess one answer is: to use the cloud. But are corps really putting their faith and critical/sensitive docs in the trust of cloud based apps already?

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pmelendez 513 days ago | link

Sorry if I am wrong, but as far as I know, Office Open XML specification is public since 2007, precisely the version referred in the article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Open_XML

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gioele 513 days ago | link

Microsoft Office do not produce or read Office Open XML files as defined in the OOXML ISO standard. They produce something that looks similar but not quite right. The same thing happens with the older formats, they are not produced or read in the way it is written in the published specifications.

[1] http://techrights.org/2010/05/31/formats-red-herring/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Open_XML#Application_su...

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tzs 512 days ago | link

The same thing also happens with OpenOffice/LibreOffice and the ISO ODF spec. In practice, this is not a big problem with either OpenOffice/LibreOffice and ODF, or Microsoft Office and OOXML, because the deviations from the spec are minor. For instance, almost all the deviations in Office from OOXML transitional are due to last minute changes in the values of some attributes.

BTW, don't cite techrights.org. They are one of the most unreliable sources of information on the net.

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ygra 513 days ago | link

The binary formats are open too. Mind you, both OOXML and the binary formats are quite tightly coupled to Office's inner workings and implementing them is probably not easy either. But documented they are.

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mahmud 513 days ago | link

Microsoft's Office file-formats are now public.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc313118.aspx

At least in principle. Not sure if there are critical omissions that might hinder interop. Devil's in the details, and such ..

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bradleyland 512 days ago | link

From a practical perspective, I'd say the open formats have, at least, improved the situation. I don't have much experience with the word processing document formats, but every tool I've used that worked with the old Excel BIFF8 format failed hard. BIFF8 was never officially released as a standard, so everyone's work was the result of reverse engineering. The results were really bad.

We recently started the transition from the old Spreadsheet (Ruby) gem, which targeted BIFF8 format, to the Axlsx gem, which targets OOXML format. The results are so, so much better. Spreadsheets generated with the old Spreadsheet gem work presentationally, but features of Excel are broken when you open the resulting documents. We also ran in to issues when generating very large documents with lots of formatting. All of these problems are gone with Axlsx.

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randym 510 days ago | link

glad to hear you are happy with axlsx. If you are doing excel, libre office, numbers or even google docs from Ruby, give it a spin.

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bradleyland 508 days ago | link

I can't thank you enough for the work you've done with axlsx. The API is very similar to a wrapper we wrote for Spreadsheet. I think it speaks volumes for software when you find that it works exactly as you expect it to.

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rplnt 513 days ago | link

You are talking about past. And here's a good read for you http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/02/19.html

It's much better nowadays with docx format that is open and is used by default (for a few years).

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