Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Evolving ODF Environment: Spotlight on SoftMaker 75

Andy Updegrove writes "In this fourth in-depth interview focusing on ODF-compliant office productivity suites, I interview Dr. Martin Sommer, of Germany's SoftMaker Software. Most people know about OpenOffice, StarOffice, and KOffice, the ODF poster child software suites. But there are also other products available as well, including this one, which bundles word processing and spreadsheet capabilities (with more modules on the way), runs on both Windows, Linux and mobile platforms, is designed for home users, is available on-line, is localized in many languages - and is dirt cheap, besides. It's also been selected by AMD for use in connection with its ambitious "50x15" plan, which hopes to connect 50% of the world population to the Internet by 2015. This interview series amply demonstrates how a useful standard - in this case ODF - can rapidly lead to the evolution of a rich and growing environment of compliant products, providing customers with variety, choice, price competition, and proprietary as well as open source product alternatives - in stark contrast to the situation that has prevailed in office suite software for the last many years."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Evolving ODF Environment: Spotlight on SoftMaker

Comments Filter:
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:29PM (#15663440) Homepage

    If ODF is the reason for this new plethora of Office products, then why is
    "Reading and Writing Word documents" the very first feature they all brag about.

    As much as I wish ODF were widely used, the reason OOo, Star and the rest
    exist is because of MS Office pricing. And these products do little to erode
    the prevelance of the .doc format. I use OOo daily, and no one has ever sent
    me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened.

    • by kihjin ( 866070 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:36PM (#15663481)
      People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF. They wont know of anything better than DOC until we show them.

      Of course, DOC is so engrained in our society that it will probably be around for another decade or more.
      • People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF.

        Exactly, it's a 2-way channel. People won't send you ODF if they don't use OOo or an equivalent, or they think you don't. I have lots of friends/coworkers which probably use OpenOffice, but I don't know for sure, so I usually go with a more "universal" format. I'll pick PDF if there's no need for editing.

        I do ask some people if they use OOo, and yes, I have sent ODF files to coworkers I know use OOo.

        Want to convince people? The

        • People will start sending you ODF when us geeks (you) start sending them ODF.

          Exactly, it's a 2-way channel.

          I agree with your agreement. As this thread shows, plenty of people are using and sending people ODF documents. For my students (non-tech-savvy, mind you) I routinely post lecture notes etc. online in both ODF and PDF formats, with links to download free readers; when I send documents to (non-tech-savvy) colleagues, I regularly send them in both ODF and PDF formats; out of hundreds of people, no

      • A little off-topic but related... despite the open-source, superior quality ogg-vorbis format, mp3 remains the top format of choice for compressed audio. As much as I'm a fan of ODF, I'd have to agree it will take a while for it to dethrone DOC. I've sent out ODF files only to get 'Please resend in DOC' replies.
    • Catastrophe coming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:56PM (#15663564)
      ODF is a format which can now be relied upon from now into the future. Something not to be sniffed at when archiving (or exchanging) information. Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?

      MS lost the war on the 3rd of May 2006. They just don't know it yet. ISO 26300 commoditises the format of word/spreadsheet/database files. It's a lynchpin which has just been pulled from MS Office (and therefore Windows). From now they're going to have to compete on price and merit.

      Independants can now take advantage of that without having to run to keep up with the doc format, though that's still going to be an issue for a few years as ODF replaces doc as the standard format. That's the catastrophe, slow at first and accelerating out of control rapidly as the market does what governments couldn't.

      • If only you were right. I really hope you are. But Microsoft has enough money to buy everyone except RMS and would if it wouldn't get them in monopoly trouble. I'm afraid they'll always be able to buy enough people and corrupt enough projects to keep their strangleholds.
      • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:24PM (#15663687) Journal

        Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?

        Why, for the same reason that all government offices make any decision, of course: because it's the sensible, logical, cost-effective thing to do.

        • Why do you think it's being demanded by government offices all over the world so soon after becoming a draft?
          Why, for the same reason that all government offices make any decision, of course: because it's the sensible, logical, cost-effective thing to do.
          Or: Because the governments want to use this ruse to get better discounts on Microsoft products.

          Wait--that was sarcasm, wasn't it?
    • Yes, but only after I've converted it to some version of a Word .doc.

      Maybe that's how ODF will make its way into common use-- everyone's using it because it's free, and converting to a format Word will read before sending. We could all change to Open Office right now if we were willing to live with losing some of the formatting frills.

      For instance, in an office of 50 computers, only one might need Word (it could be an unused workstation accessible to all by VNC or even MSTSC!)-- for the plain vanilla stuf

    • I've seen it happen once. And the person downloaded Open Office so they could look at it.
    • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:20PM (#15663903)
      "I use OOo daily, and no one has ever sent
      me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened."

      Nobody has ever sent you plain text? Nobody has ever sent you HTML (even in email?), nobody has ever sent you a PDF file?

      I find that incredibly hard to believe.
    • Yes, they exist because of Office pricing.

      But to succeed, they don't need to erode the prevalence of .doc format. The .doc format can live forever, who really cares about a file format that's .rtf under the covers? If the product is *REALLY* better (as opposed to simply NOT-Microsoft) then they have a start.

      To succeed, they need to:
      1. Provide a graphically-equivalent product. Nothing is worse than getting a document that's "Word-compatible" and then having it look different when loaded into Word; or gett
    • Actually, ODF helped me land my job. One of the "not required" requirements was to know alternate software such as OpenOffice, and I was the only one who sent in my resume and cover in openoffice format. Noone else did. Then to top it off, I took my laptop with me, and it was running linux.
    • "no one has ever sent me a document in anything other than Word. I'd be amazed if it happened."

      Well if you posted your e-mail address, I would!

  • While I am a HUGE proponent for choice, I just don't understand the logic behind creating Office suites like these. They are nowhere near as polished as the expensive Microsoft Office, and yet are far more immature than OpenOffice.org. I could understand if they released the office suite for free, but who wants to pay for an application that (ultimately) you don't no whether you will be able to get support for because the company could be a fly-by-nighter. I have similar feelings with yellowTAB's Zeta -- wh
  • by rduke15 ( 721841 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [51ekudr]> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:48PM (#15663531)
    A very misleading article and submission.

    I'm a big fan of TextMaker, which is SoftMaker's word processor. (I don't know the rest of the "suite").

    But even though it is a really good word processor, it is hardly "ODF-compliant". In fact, this is my main problem with the program. By default, it stores documents in it's own proprietary format. It can save as MS-Word, which is what I do as a "lesser evil": it's also proprietary, but at least it is so widely used that I can expect to find converters for a long time. There is an .odt importer, but the exporter is still "in the works".

    I don't want import/export filters. I want my word processor to use an open document format natively, by default. So I hope they will eventually completely switch to ODF.

    Then of course, if the ODF is such a monstruosity as OpenOffice, I can understand why SoftMaker doesn't jump on the bandwagon... (yes, that's flamebait, but I mean it...:-)

    An alternative would be to comletely open up the specification to their own format.
    • by martin-k ( 99343 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:10AM (#15665378) Homepage
      We are already working on ODF export, and it will be featured in a free servicepack later this year. When this is done, OpenDocument will be added as one of the "default file formats", i.e., you can set TextMaker to create OpenDocument documents by default.

      Martin Kotulla
      SoftMaker Software GmbH
      • We are already working on ODF export, and it will be featured in a free servicepack later this year.

        Thankyou, finally a reason to actually bother to install my Textmaker back onto my Linux box. I got v2002 ages ago and was using it pretty entensively, but when OOo went to v2 and I changed from Suse to Ubuntu I didn't bother to install it back again. I still use the nice fonts though that came on the CD.

        However, does this "servicepack" only apply to the Windows version? cos I really want ODF support (both

        • We have one set of source codes that works on all platforms, so OpenDocument import and export will be both in TextMaker 2006 for Windows and TextMaker 2006 for Linux, as well as the other platforms we are supporting.

          Martin Kotulla
          SoftMaker Software GmbH
          • ah, so I'll probably have to pay for an upgrade to Textmaker 2006 for Linux when it comes out then... Will there be a beta program first for existing owners to sign up for?
            • Yes. TextMaker 2006 is a totally new release (AutoShapes, Track Changes, comments, better Word filters, OpenDocument import, and a zillion other new things). And, yes, there will soon be a Linux beta (the Windows version of TextMaker 2006 is already shipping).

              We'll announce the public beta program in our newsletter and on our web site.

              Martin Kotulla
              SoftMaker Software GmbH
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:01PM (#15663585)
    What we have here gentlemen and lady who wandered onto the wrong site by mistake, is a good old fashioned goldrush.

    Folks hear tell there's some erosion happening in the Microsoft foothills, and they want to stake a claim.

    Next comes a marketplace awash with Wannabe Microsoft Office clones, all trying to eke some small living off the Open format that can be like the holy 'doc', and which they desperatelly hope is a way to get a decent market share. Sorry guys, the junkies aint switching, it's create an entirely new market or die.

    I use ODF for *everything*, it's great, but these companies have got to realise, if all they can do is ape Office, then they're going against a battleship in a rowboat.

    ODF brings a chance to create something new, a way to store documents in a unified format that means there will never be a place or time when they cannot be accessed. Not just the next few years, but centuries from now.

    Microsoft have *never* offered this, unless the entire world plays their tune, and in spite of what you may have been told, there have been area's in computing where microsoft has never been able to venture. Without that they couldn't hope to dominate documents of all types, and you know they'd like to.

    ODF can though, it has one huge advantage. Being an Open standard, it can be modified in full public view. Things will only ever be added if they enhance the document format itself, not to suite the perceived needs of a single vendor.

    The only way to really exploit ODF is to break away from MSOffice like atributes, and start making something different and new.
  • by knewter ( 62953 ) <josh...rubyist@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:08PM (#15663621) Homepage
    runs on both Windows, Linux and mobile platforms

    I found the article both informative, entertaining, and grammatically confused.
  • Apple: MIA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:14PM (#15663651)
    There is set of office apps besides MS Office and OpenOffice where ODF really would make a difference: Apple's. But, instead, Apple Pages and Keynote use their own, proprietary format, a format that isn't even consistent between Apple's own releases.
    • I have sent question to Apple's support about ODF support but got no response. I was really thinking about buying it - after pains of OOo on Mac OS (and not only Mac OS).

      In the end, you have to recall that M$ own share of Apple and they have some sort of agreement. As long as M$ itself doesn't support ODF officially I'd expect Apple will not move a finger. What is rather sad reality.
  • by Procyon101 ( 61366 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @07:24PM (#15663686) Journal
    I was using a Windows box the other day. Overall, the OS seemed solid and polished, so I installed MS Office.

    Office opened up, I typed some characters... simple first steps. All seemed to be in order, so I go to try it out with some of my documents.

    I go to open a document I have opened with a few other Word Processors.. nothing. Word can't read any of my standard ODF documents. All my other word processing software can read Word docs, but Microsoft can't read the basic, common denominator standard. So much for that.

    So, on to spreadsheets. Open up an open document format spreadsheet with Excell. Excell somehow thinks this is a CSV formatted file of all things. I can't use any of my existing spreadsheets on this new software.

    Rather than spen untold painful hours converting everything, I uninstalled office and installed OOo for Windows. It seems that MS has alot of work to do to bring their office suite up to par with current standards. As it is, it seems barely useable, *IF* you can get access to a Windows machine and only if that machine has MS Office installed, which is a fairly rare combination from where I stand. I wonder why I don't see more "Windows isn't ready for the desktop" comments, because from my vantage point, that's the impression I get every time I struggle to use the damn stuff.
    • I was using a Windows box the other day. Overall, the OS seemed solid and polished, so I installed MS Office.

      This first paragraph reeks of astroturfing. And not for Microsoft.

      From the rest of your post, it's clear you're not a regular Windows user, much less an Office user.

      If that's the case, where'd you get the Office CD to install on a Windows box (which, it appears, is not your machine)?

      • by Procyon101 ( 61366 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:05PM (#15663851) Journal
        First sentance is a bit sarcastic ;)

        GF's machine. She wanted access to some spreadsheets of mine and owns office which she normally uses on her laptop. In this case, I was using her desktop.

        Needless to say. MS Office was not a workable solution because it didn't play nice with standards. Any number of alternative solutions were available, none of them Microsoft's. Other products that use a proprietary format can at least fall back to accepted standards as an alternative to work in normal environments... Microsoft Office does not. When even the small, open source products provide a trivial solution (or at least make a valiant attempt) to what in my mind is a fairly mundane computing task, I would expect a mature product to be up to the task. Microsoft's suite is not. For my purposes it is an inferior product, as I don't care how well it can intermix fonts and indent my letter, if I can't even read my letters, written to a standard, with their product, then their product sucks.
  • http://www.betanews.com/article/Microsoft_to_Suppo rt_OpenDocument/1152166759 [betanews.com] "In a surprise move, Microsoft is bending to pressure from governments and will sponsor an open source project to build tools that enable conversion between its Open XML formats in Office 2007 and OpenDocument (ODF). The forthcoming Office suite will also support an add-in for saving directly to ODF." I have to go scare some pigs off my roof that just flew in....
  • FYI, Textmaker is also available for Pocket Pc and Linux PDAs. Don't know if the portable versions support ODF though.
    • Yes, the mobile versions of TextMaker support OpenDocument, too. In fact, they have all the features of their desktop counterparts.

      Martin Kotulla
      SoftMaker Software GmbH
  • I have been using OpenOffice and the OpenDocument format since it was available and have never had a problem... After a lot of discussion, the school where I teach (I'm the CIS teacher) is going to OpenOffice and the OpenDocument format this year- it's an international standard and 15 years from now we will still be able to open those documents created this year. (We store a lot of student records in digital form. And the discussion was whether to go OOo AND Linux this year. We're going Linux next year... )

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel