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Google Docs (aka Writely) does not really support ODF, or at least not current ODF

Sun 5 Nov 2006, 11:32 PM



by Ben Langhinrichs
It is odd, but true.  In Google Docs, there is a menu item which says "Save as OpenOffice, and when you save a document, it has a .odt extension, which is indeed the extension OpenOffice.org Writer uses, but the contents are not really standard ODF.  Instead, they seem to be the legacy .sxw format, saved with a .odt extension.  Since OpenOffice.org will open them just fine, Google probably thought it was OK to fudge the truth a bit, but the value of open XML formats is there ability to be processed by various processors.  Ironically, it was the people writing the open source converter which converts ODF to OOXML who discovered this, as described in What's the matter with Google Docs?  
Menu item from Google Docs

It is inexcusable for Google to pretend that it supports a format that it does not. What makes matters worse is that Google Docs can read a proper .odt file, but will save it back as a disguised .sxw file with an .odt extension, thus corrupting existing ODF files.  While some applications, such as OpenOffice.org Writer, may support .sxw format, others do not, and should not have to.

It also makes me wonder about IBM's productivity editors, to be introduced with Hannover, the next major release of the Lotus Notes client.  There are some indications that the productivity editors were based off earlier versions of the OpenOffice.org suite, but I hope that IBM has gone to the effort of updating to use the current ODF formats.  Anybody know for sure?

Copyright 2006 Genii Software Ltd.

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