17 April 2005

Office suites

I think I'll trow my two cents at the discuss regarding the OpenOffice.org versus Gnome Office competition.

Some OOo people like to talk about The Digital Tipping Point and how Open Source applications like OpenOffice.org will replace proprietary ones in the same way Sony replaced RCA, they call it "disruption". I believe at some point Gnome Office will start disrupting OOo.

In present people think they need the full MS Office, but OOo is changing this mentality. Once it will gain a certain threshold (some OOo people estimated the needed market share at 15-20%), the mentality will change and OOo acceptance is supposed to increase dramatically. Well, I think that will be a very good opportunity for Abiword/Gumeric.

Open Document
I saw the new file format used in OOo 2.0, OpenDocument, like the best of their initiatives so far: if it is declared an ISO standard this could means immediate acceptance in governments, which will generate industry-wide support.

This is where i see a missed opportunity for Gnome Office: Abiword does not have very good support for OpenDocument (as a counter example, KOffice is using it as the default format).


  1. The Abiword support for OpenOffice.org and OpenDocument formats certainly needs work and I am sure the developers will encourage anyone interetested in providing patches. Currently only Abiword (.abw) format and Rich Text Format (.rtf) fully support everything in Abiword.
    I think it is fair to say the developers appreciate the importance of the OpenDocument format and hopefully it will come to be as widely supported as RTF currently is but they are first working through other priorties that have been around longer.

    For what is it worth anyone can set the "default" file format in abiword to use something other than the native Abiword (.abw) format. This is the default in a fairly simplistic sense. To a certain extent the file format reflects the implementation model used by an application. The work KOffice has decided to make to support OpenDocument as their native format are likely to require more fundamental changes.

  2. Alan, of course you are right, OpenOffice.org has a huge team and big corporate sponsorship and compared with this Abiword can't do everything and do it right now and they should focus on they think is important and they are incorporating wonderful features (the new math editor, the only office word processor supporting SVG images etc.)

    As for KOffice, I am not a KDE user and don't follow it's development but I know about one year ago its developers announced that in the next version (1.4 I believe but don't know when it should be released) they will drop their old file format and use the yet-to-be-finalised-at-that-time OpenDocument format. Yes, that was a bold move and they have a lot of work but I think it was an important strategic decision because, in my opinion, the single most important factor for an office application is the support for generally used file formats.