Ben Langhinrichs

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July, 2006
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Tue 11 Jul 2006, 11:38 PM
To follow up on my earlier post, here is yet another interesting difference between Open Document Format (ODF) and Notes rich text

Differences in Drop Shadow (and related items) for Tables
In both ODF and Notes rich text, you can specify a shadow for a table.  They even look pretty similar:

Drop shadow in ODF
Figure 1: Simple shadow on a table added in OpenOffice.org Writer


Figure 2: Simple shadow on a table added in Notes client

although the Notes shadow is a fuzzy one and a bit darker gray.  Both ODF and Notes allow you to specify the depth of the shadow as well, but ODF goes a good bit further.  For example, what if the light casting the shadow is coming from somewhere other than above and to the left?  ODF allows any of the other corners to be shadowed:

Alternate drop shadows in ODF
Figure 3: Alternate corner shadows in ODF

But the difference does not stop there.  What if the light is a different color?  In ODF, you can have tables with varying colors for the shadow, such as this lovely sample:


Figure 4: Alternate color shadow in ODF

But, not surprisingly, there are different features that Notes has that ODF does not support.  For example, both Notes rich text and ODF can support varying cell borders widths and colors, and the color can be separate between the shadow and the cell borders, but Notes rich text also allows a separate border around the entire table.  For example:

Different table border and cell borders in Notes
Figure 5: Different table border and cell borders in Notes

The real issue, of course, is not what cool features each of the two formats supports, but how the heck to translate between the two.  What should happen when one of the tables in Figures 3 or 4 are imported to Notes rich text?  What should happen when the table in Figure 5 is exported to ODF?  To show that these questions are not academic, let's take a look at the ODF table in Figure 4, copied and pasted into Notes 6.5.3 (I have no idea if this changes with other versions, but will find out):

Figure 4 coped and pasted into Notes
Figure 6: The table in Figure 4 coped from OpenOffice to Notes

Ouch!  We have lost the size, the drop shadow and, obviously, any color.  But let's see if things are any better going the other direction.  Here is the table in Figure 5 copied into OpenOffice:

Figure 5 coped and pasted into OpenOffice
Figure 7: The table in Figure 5 coped from Notes to OpenOffice

Ouch again!  The width is maintained, but the drop shadow, background color, cell border thickness, cell border color and table border are all gone.

Conclusion
A conversion between Notes rich text and ODF, or between ODF and Notes rich text, is fraught with difficulty, but could definitely be done with more smarts than the copy and paste.  By the way, this is slightly different than my first post about list differences, because it is not clear that the ODF format prevents more compatibility.  The only certain thing is that OpenOffice.org Writer and Notes have these incompatibilities.  I will update this post if I discover ways to accomplish better compatibility with ODF than OpenOffice.org Writer allows, but these are the limitations which are likely to be found in the ODF compatible word processor to be added in Hannover.

Copyright © 2006 Genii Software Ltd.

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Tue 11 Jul 2006, 09:39 PM
To my lovely, amazing daughter, Happy Birthday!  Enjoy it while you can, and if you can't be good, then at least don't get caught.

Copyright © 2006 Genii Software Ltd.