Google Promises Better Compatibility with Open Source Documents
Google (GOOG) may soon be taking open OpenDocumentFormat (ODF), the native file format in virtually all modern open source word processors, like LibreOffice and OpenOffice, more seriously. That's according to a statement from Google's open source chief speaking about the future of the company's cloud-based app suite.
Google already supports ODF to a certain, meager extent. It's possible to import some ODF files into Google Docs, and very limited support for ODF export is available as well. But the conversions in their current form don't work particularly well, and the compatibility with only certain types of ODF documents means that integrating Google Docs into workflows is not realistic for people who work primarily with ODF.
That can pose problems not only for users of an open source operating systems, like Linuxs, but also, increasingly, for workers in various governments around the world. Many governments are now requiring ODF as a way to avoid vendor lock-in and other concerns associated with Office Open XML, the file format created by Microsoft (MSFT) for use in current versions of Office and other applications.
And as ComputerWorld reported, Google's interest in marketing to the government agencies is perhaps inspiring change on the ODF front. Chris DiBona, head of open source at Google, told the audience earlier this month at ODF PlugFest, a conference for developers and vendors with an interest in ODF, that Google is currently working on improving the compatibility of Google Docs with ODF.
DiBona wasn't too specific about what the company's plans entail, how much additional ODF compabitility they will bring or when it expects to deliver on them (though he mentioned summer 2015 as a possible release date for support for importing ODF-based presentation files into Docs, which would be an important new feature). Still, they suggest that substantial improvements are in store to the half-baked support that Google currently offers to people working with open source platforms.