Novell delivers Open XML translator for OpenOffice

Translator lets users open and save Word 2007's native documents within the open-source application

Novell posted an Open XML translator for the OpenOffice.org productivity suite today, making good on a December 2006 promise to add Microsoft Office 2007 file format capability to the open-source application bundle.

The translator -- which works with both the Linux and Windows versions of OpenOffice.org -- lets users open and save Word 2007's native documents within the open-source suite's word processor application.

Open XML -- officially known as Office Open XML -- is the XML-based file format Microsoft debuted in Office 2007, the business suite released to corporate customers last November and to consumers at the end of January. OpenOffice, on the other hand, relies on the Open Document Format (ODF), which has been adopted by some governments as their de facto document standard.

Brian Jones, a program manager in Microsoft's Office group who works on file formats, called Novell's move a victory of sorts. "I think at this point we can really move on to more productive and collaborative discussion and admit that we are no longer in any sort of 'file format war.' If we ever were really in a war, it's now over, and both sides are winners," Jones wrote in a blog entry last Friday.

That may come as a surprise to one California lawmaker who only last week introduced a bill that would mandate ODF use by agencies in the state.

"Both [Open XML and ODF] were designed for different purposes, and both have been valuable additions to the market," Jones said. "Now we can also say that we have multiple implementations of both formats."

Last December, Novell announced that it would roll out the word processor translator first, then follow with others for OpenOffice.org's spreadsheet and presentation maker. Novell said today that those translators would be released sometime in the second half of the year.

A month ago, a translator for Microsoft Word 2007 that allows the Microsoft word processor to open and save documents in ODF was posted for download on Sourceforge. Although Microsoft did not create the ODF translator -- three small developers collaborated on the add-in -- the company did endorse the project and provided some financial assistance. The Open XML translator for OpenOffice.org can be downloaded from Novell's site.

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