OASIS File Formats

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Fireball1244
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OASIS File Formats

Post by Fireball1244 » 2005-05-29 21:14:19

Now that the OpenDocument formats have been accepted as "official" standards by OASIS, and OpenOffice is also moving towards ISO recognition, I think it would be nice for Nisus Writer to be able to produce an OpenDocument WP file as an export option (or perhaps as a more "open" default at some point).

I'm sure adding a file format is a major technical process, but its something I think would be very useful. If not in version 3.0, then at some point soon after, I'd really like to see this become an option.

cgc
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Post by cgc » 2005-05-30 08:00:34

I'm all for using open standards. What benefits will this have over .rtf?

MacSailor
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Post by MacSailor » 2005-05-30 11:57:55

cgc wrote:I'm all for using open standards. What benefits will this have over .rtf?
Maybe because it's open and non-MS? :wink: Just a guess.
Peter Edwardsson
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Post by cgc » 2005-05-30 20:31:49

RTF is open and not MS I believe... Are there any tangible benefits to transition to that format?

MacSailor
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Post by MacSailor » 2005-05-31 01:34:58

cgc wrote:RTF is open and not MS I believe... Are there any tangible benefits to transition to that format?
According to Wikipedia
The Rich Text Format (often abbreviated to RTF) is a document file format that has been continually developed by Microsoft since 1987 for cross-platform document interchange. Most word processors are able to read and write RTF documents. Unlike most of the word processing formats, RTF is human-readable.
And if it's open or not, I would leave that unsaid, but Wikipedia states that RTF is a:
Proprietary, closed specification by Microsoft.
If you ask Microsoft, they would probably say that all their products are open to use as a standard, but that the deep-going code is untouchable by anyone outside Microsoft. Just my guess.
Peter Edwardsson
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Post by cgc » 2005-05-31 19:20:37

I didn't know that...thanks.

cchapin
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Post by cchapin » 2005-06-01 07:02:45

I think supporting the OpenDocument word processing format as an export option would be a very positive thing, but it isn't a matter of urgency with me. Since OpenOffice.org (for Macs running X11) and NeoOffice/J (for Mac OS X) do a decent job of opening RTF files and since they're both free downloads, converting documents created in Nisus Writer Express to the OpenDocument format is a relatively simple two-step process. Frankly, I've had to do this only once, to run a mail merge in NeoOffice/J. (Although working in NWE is a vastly more pleasant experience, NeoOffice/J has a fuller feature set at this point.)

It might be more important to add to NWE the ability to import OpenDocument files. (In reality, I suppose, import and export abilities would be developed together.) As the OpenDocument format catches on -- and I think it will, though probably slowly at first -- Nisus users will need to deal with it, and not everyone will want to download and install OpenOffice.org or NeoOffice/J to use it simply as a converter.

--Craig

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Post by cgc » 2005-06-01 07:17:32

I'm in the middle of a thread on the Mellel forum about formats and import/export. It is interesting to note that people seem to feel Nisus and Mellel are mostly equal and people choose Nisus because of it's strong RTF import/export.

The Mellel folks have decided to create another open format for files (instead of using an existing one). Since it is open, are there plans to implement import/export of their document format?

charles
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Post by charles » 2005-06-02 14:31:42

Hi:

The reason we chose RTF as our primary file format is because that when it comes to formats, what most people care most about is their ability to share documents with other people.

We are following OpenDocument but currently very few documents are being created in that format. Adding support for any format, even an open one based on XML, is very expensive and time consuming. We are happy to do it once users actually have a real world need to work in this format. Until then, we will probably continue to invest our limited resources into formats like RTF and HTML.

My comment on Mellel's format is that there is a difference between Proprietary/Standard and Open/Closed. Mellel's new XML format will be, I suppose, an Open format in the sense that anyone can download the spec. It is still Proprietary in the sense that no one but the Redler's will support the format. Who cares if your file format is open if no one else is able to read your document? At this point, I don't see how Mellel's new format is going to benefit users in any way.

RTF is, on the other hand, is both Open and Standard according to my definitions above. Anyone can download and implement the spec and it is the most widely supported word processing format on the planet which definitely makes it Standard.

The fact that the RTF spec is maintained by Microsoft does not matter. They have made it available to the public and now millions of copies of software are out there being used by writers everyday that support it. There is no way anyone, not even Microsoft, can "close" this format.

In summary, our primary goal with file formats is to do whatever will help our users get the most out of their work. That means that we will support any file formats our users need to regularly deal with. If OpenDocument ever makes it into this category, then we will happily support it.
Charles Jolley
Nisus Software, Inc.

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Post by cgc » 2005-06-03 07:29:42

Good to hear. In the Mellel forum, the state the advantage of Mellel XML would be the ability to "do things that couldn't be done in RTF." I think it's more of an "it's easier to make our own than to adhere to existing standards." I also made the point of who cares if it's a standard is nobody uses it? Good discussion, however.

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Post by cgc » 2005-07-24 13:48:01

With the recent news that future Micosoft Office (2005?) will support xml format (.docx) and the format will be free, non-royalty, and documented. I hope Nisus now reconsiders as 100% MS Word copatibility is possible.

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Post by charles » 2005-07-25 15:21:01

cgc:

When it starts to look like Word's new XML format will become a real world need for our users, we will definitely implement it. From a technical point of view, of course, XML would be much preferred anyway. :-)

-Charles
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Post by lewphelps » 2005-10-04 14:38:41

Two recent news items show that OpenDocument is beginning to catch on, in a way nobody envisioned just a few months ago. First, the State of Massachusetts has decided to embrace the OpenDoc standard, and that decision explicitly excludes Micro$oft from serving that market, because their XML document format is different from OpenDoc, and the folks in Redmond have said explicitly that they will NOT support OpenDocument. Several countries in the EU are headed toward the same decision. See:
[url] http://news.com.com/2102-1012_3-5878869 ... util.print [/url].

Then, today (October 4), Google and Sun announced a partnership to advance the distribution of Sun's OpenOffice suite of programs. see [url] http://www.computerworld.com/softwareto ... 53,00.html [/url] for details.

All of this means one thing: OpenDoc now has a chance to become The Next Big Thing. I would love to see Nisus Writer at the forefront of this revolution, as a leader rather than a follower.

RTF is a good standard, but not nearly as powerful as XML for controlling formatting. XML is an open standard, and there is potentially a large market for those who implement it, creating a viable alternative to Micro$oft Word.

Lew Phelps

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Post by marc » 2005-10-05 20:10:05

charles wrote:At this point, I don't see how Mellel's new format is going to benefit users in any way.
I think that comment is unfortunate, as it's simply not the case that there are no benefits to Mellel's proposed XML file format; the big one of course, is XSLT, and the ability to translate their files into many other formats.

That's a lot of power they'll be putting into their user's hands, and shouldn't be underestimated; once this change happens, assuming the format is sufficiently stable and documented, Mellel users will not be restricted to the file formats that the programmers deem worth supporting, and they won't necessarily have to keep copies of Word, NeoOffice etc. lying around, to be able to read and write officially unsupported formats.

Of course, what generally goes unmentioned in these effusive celebrations of the 'power of XML' is that there still needs to be feature parity to be able to render, interact with, and edit the individual elements of a document; just supporting XML, doesn't suddenly give you a Revision Tracking system, just because the file format supports it, whether it's OASIS, DOCX, etc.

At the same time, the short comings that the RTF proponents offer are all pretty much true at the moment, but that equation may very well change, and we want our preferred WP to be there, when that time comes.

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Post by Ryan » 2005-10-06 11:17:15

marc wrote:
charles wrote:At this point, I don't see how Mellel's new format is going to benefit users in any way.
I think that comment is unfortunate, as it's simply not the case that there are no benefits to Mellel's proposed XML file format; the big one of course, is XSLT, and the ability to translate their files into many other formats.

That's a lot of power they'll be putting into their user's hands, and shouldn't be underestimated; once this change happens, assuming the format is sufficiently stable and documented, Mellel users will not be restricted to the file formats that the programmers deem worth supporting, and they won't necessarily have to keep copies of Word, NeoOffice etc. lying around, to be able to read and write officially unsupported formats.
But, um, this is what RTF is already. Every major word processor supports it, and it's even tightly integrated with the OS X operating system. So format translation is irrelevant.

Now, if the Nisus people are running into shortcomings of the RTF specs, then a considered change in file format could possibly make sense. But RTF is fairly robust for writing needs, and is by far the most widely supported (as I said, everyone can use it). I don't see companies dropping support of RTF, even if they add OpenDoc or another XML-structured format.

One other thing to add about XML formats is that, not only do they require an app that can do something with their tags, the different formats are still incompatible. XML is a grammar, not a syntax. OpenDoc is not compatible with DOCX, etc. So, basing a format on the XML structure gives little to no compatibility benefit. But Marc, is this XSLT thing supposed to be the cure for this? How would that work?

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