Microsoft Details How It Will Support ODF

Microsoft publishes documentation on how it plans to implement support of the OASIS Open Document Format Version 1.1 in Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 when it becomes available in 2009. Microsoft says it will deliver similar notes on how it will support Open XML in Office in the near future.

Microsoft has published documentation on how it plans to implement support of the OASIS Open Document Format Version 1.1 in Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 when it becomes available in 2009.

Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability at Microsoft, said the goal is to support interoperability among office productivity applications. Microsoft announced its plans to support ODF earlier in 2008, and this documentation represents the software giant's first concrete step toward fostering true interoperability. Mahugh said similarly detailed documentation on Microsoft's implementation of Open XML in Office are forthcoming.

"The goal here is transparency of our implementation," Mahugh said in an interview with eWEEK. "We've committed to do the same for other document formats."

In a news release, Microsoft said:

"These implementation notes offer a comprehensive guide on how Microsoft is implementing ODF and Open XML within its flagship Microsoft Office suite. These notes, available at no charge on the Document Interoperability Initiative (DII) site,, will be useful to developers seeking to enhance the interoperability of their solutions with Microsoft products."This is an extremely valuable contribution to the pursuit of grounded, practical interoperability among applications," said Dennis Hamilton, document-system interoperability architect. "This step raises the bar for transparent disclosure of how standard formats are supported at a detailed level.""

In the same release, Mahugh said, "By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing details that others can use as a reference point for their own applications. ... We encourage other companies to take similar steps to help achieve greater interoperability across the industry."

Mahugh said the overall goals of the effort are threefold: to promote shared stewardship, transparency and collaboration.

In terms of shared stewardship, Mahugh said Microsoft is committed to being an active participant in the evolution of ODF and Open ISO/IEC.

There also will be transparency in how vendors approach the implementation of standards in their own products, and collaboration "with other vendors to identify and resolve real-world issues among implementations, and build tools and solutions to improve interoperability over time." Mahugh added in the release, "Events such as the DII workshops around the world enable technical vendor discussions, labs and solution-enablement programs that help vendors develop solutions for effective data exchange between product implementations of document format standards."

Microsoft's implementation notes include details on implementation decisions, details on additional data written into files and details on implementation variances, Mahugh said.

"There are some things we do in Office that are just not in ODF," Mahugh said. "In these document format standards it's common for the standard to allow for a wide set of capabilities. For instance, the ODF spec allows for huge page sizes; Office has smaller page sizes. Also, on font weight, Office has regular or bold, but the ODF spec allows for many gradations. So we map that to normal or bold. We try to make it easy for implementers to use. We provide a lot of detail, and a level of information and detail that is unprecedented in a document format."

More information about the ODF Implementers Notes can be found at the DII site at the DII site.