OpenOffice, Office 2007 get new tools

OpenOffice.org and Microsoft have released toolkits for developing applications around for their rival productivity suites and document formats

Rivals Microsoft and OpenOffice.org on Tuesday both released toolkits that support building applications for their competing document file formats and productivity suites.

OpenOffice.org's toolkit allows developers to add the ability to save documents in Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) to a variety of applications.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's kits help companies build applications for its Office 2007 productivity suite, which is based on Open XML, ODF's rival file format. Office 2007 is available to business customers and will be in wide consumer release on Jan. 30.

The OpenOffice.org ODF Toolkit Project has published an initial version of its toolkit online and is inviting members of the community to add to its development, said Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager for OpenOffice.org.

Previously, developers would have to add "a good piece of OpenOffice.org" code to an application to give it the ability to save documents in ODF, Suarez-Potts said. The creation of the ODF Toolkit makes this easier, he said.

For example, "if someone has a mail application, they can take the tools we're making available and make it so mail messages can be saved as ODF," Suarez-Potts said.

However, e-mail is just one of many applications for which the toolkit can create the option to save files as ODF, he said. Because ODF is "a flexible file format," any application for which someone creates content can include the option to save files in this way, Suarez-Potts said.

More information about the toolkit can be found on the ODF Toolkit site at OpenOffice.org and on this Sun Microsystems blog.

Microsoft's toolkits for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the Microsoft Office Project 2007 provide technical guidance and sample code so developers can build what Microsoft is calling Office Business Applications. The company hopes these applications will allow employees to access information from back-end systems through the new Office UI (user interface), which it has named Microsoft Office Fluent. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the name of the Office 2007 UI for the first time and said it will license Fluent royalty-free so developers can build new applications that look like those in the suite.

In addition to the toolkits, Microsoft also announced that it will have a new portal on Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) to focus on development around Groove, a P-to-P (peer-to-peer) application it acquired when it bought Groove Networks.

P-to-P has become a strategic part of Microsoft's collaboration software strategy, and the company has even made Ray Ozzie, Groove's founder and brainchild, its chief architect and heir apparent to Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates.

Microsoft will launch the Groove portal on MSDN this calendar quarter along with free templates, called Application Templates for Groove 2007, that will provide sample code for a variety of user scenarios for using Groove within the Office suite.

More information about Microsoft's announcements can be found on its Web site.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently approved ODF as an international standard for document file formats. It is supported by companies such as IBM and Sun, which markets its own version of OpenOffice.org called StarOffice. Microsoft's Open XML, on the other hand, recently won approval by Ecma International as a standard, but the ISO has not approved it yet.

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