Google Supports OpenOffice, But Not (Yet) ODF

Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Share via Linkedin Share via Reddit

Gmail Doesn’t Translate ODF

Originally uploaded by sogrady.

While there’s been quite a few developments in the ODF/MSXML fray, I’ll leave those to others for the moment. Andy Updegrove has been kind enough to keep me posted on his analysis of the Ecma standardization process and, as I expected, some questions have arisen about how open they are. See his comments here or here. Meanwhile, Friend of RedMonk Stephe Walli has pursued a similar line of inquiry to what I’ve discussed here – namely, how does standardization make business sense for the folks from Redmond – in far greater detail than I could have here. Also common knowledge now is the departure of Jason Matusow, whom I discussed here, from the Shared Source group at Microsoft to the standards group at Microsoft.

All interesting developments, and all worth commenting on – later. For right now, I want to comment briefly on something that Erwin noted: namely, that Gmail is offering the ability to view attached OpenOffice documents in HTML rather than their original format. Thinking that this might be an early indication of something I’ve wanted to see from the likes of JotSpot, Scalix, SocialText, and Zimbra for a while – the first attempt to tap ODF as a transform layer within the context of an existing application – I decided to run a quick test.

In this test, I went to Firefox, copied the text from my earlier entry today and dropped it into a new document in OpenOffice.org 2.0 – my default office productivity suite. I then saved the same content in three different formats: ODF (.odt), Word (.doc), and Open/Star Office (.sxw). These documents I then emailed over to my Gmail account. The result is pictured in the window. Interestingly, Google is not – yet at least – transforming ODF, but is working with the native Open/StarOffice format. Notice that the ODT document is the only one of the three without a “View as HTML” link. Also interesting is the fact that they seem to be more adept at transforming .doc files than they do .sxw – compare the formatting here vs here.

Anyhow, I’m not reading too much into this, but I think it’s interesting that a.) Google would choose to support an essentially deprecated format in OpenOffice native, and b.) ODF support hasn’t arrived yet. Wonder when it’ll get here.


  1. re: your comment about converting documents to ODT, Word and OOO. It’s probably worth keeping in mind that the import/export engine in OOO is very powerful and can be easily scripted to import any supported OOO format (ODT, Word etc) and then to export as HTML. So the fact that GMail does not yet support ODT may just be that they just have not included the ODT option in their transformation callouts, which may only be a 15 min. job.

    So no conspiracy great here, move along please 🙂

  2. totally agree, Justin – def not trying to start any conspiracy theories 😉 i just found it curious.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *