6

A Quick Note

I asked if this was an okay topic over on Meta, and they said it should be okay, as long as I "describe the writing-related context -- what you're writing, who (if anybody) you're collaborating with or submitting it to, etc. -- how you use those files. And you already know to steer clear of opinion surveys."

In light of these points, I did try my best to fulfill all those criteria below, and I also made sure to check out the On-Topic Summary over on Meta. And, as I stated on my Meta post, "I chose Writers.SE over other sites because I would be using this primarily for writing; go figure."


The Question

I'm a huge supporter of FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software), and so I would love to use ODF (.odt, .ods, .odp, etc.) as opposed to OOXML (.docx, .xlsx, pptx, etc.), but I'm not sure if it's got the features I need. I'm not a hugely complex user, but I'm not exactly inexperienced, either. I guess I'd be more of an intermediate user?

Anyway, I did a fair share of research on my own, I assure you. Most of that stuff I looked at are listed at the bottom under Sources.

So my question is this: given the information listed here, would it be okay for me to switch to OpenDocument Format, or would it be better for me to just stick with Office Open XML? Or, if an answer to that question isn't possible, then which is the best option of these two?


Some Info About Myself & How I'd Use the Stuff *

  1. I write a lot, typically nonfiction but occasionally fiction.

  2. I need endnote and footnote support.

  3. I would prefer, though I do not need, Android support. Does WPS Office support it? Fully or partially? I've already contacted them, but I don't know how much info they may "conveniently" forget to leave out, you know, so I'm asking all of you in case you know something I should know. :)

  4. What's the compatibility like with Word? What about Excel? PowerPoint? Access?

  5. Can ODS files support formulæ?

  6. SmartArt and graphs (in both Word and Excel)?

  7. I don't really collaborate, so it's cool if the feature-set's not that great with that, but I do need to be able to reliably send the file to someone. This is almost certainly a must. I read in one of those Reddit threads cited below that an option could be to send a PDF, but that's a problem because you can't easily edit a PDF. So although it's a way I could work around compatibility shortcomings, it's not perfect and, thus, not exactly preferred. Doesn't have to be perfect. Just perfect enough. Lol.

  8. Compatibility with popular extensions, such as those for LibreOffice, MS Office, and Google Docs/Sheets/Slides?

  9. Compatibility with Google Docs? Sheets? Slides?

  10. Are PowerPoint animations possible? If so, how compatible are they with LibreOffice Impress, MS PowerPoint, or Google Slides?

  11. LibreOffice has compatibility with MediaWiki. If I wanted to back up a draft or whatever, could I? (Note: I've never used that feature before, so for all I know, backing up a draft or post or whatever may not even involve ODF filetypes, but just in case they did, and I ever decided one day I wanted to try it out, I'd like to know.)

  12. Any other pros you can think of?

  13. Any other cons you can think of?

  14. Any other neutral points I should know of?

  15. Chrome OS compatibility? (I don't use Google Drive, but I have a Chromebook so it'd be nice to be able to edit, or at the very least view, ODF files on it.)

  16. Can you view ODF files on Dropbox?

  17. OneDrive compatibility?

  18. Linux compatibility? (Specifically Ubuntu.)

  19. Mac OS X compatibility?

  20. Do you like Jell-O? :3


*This list is not exhaustive, but it is the best I could do at the moment.


Sources

Reddit

  1. "Office Suites with OpenDocument Support (ODT, ODS, ODT). They Exist?", via /r/AndroidQuestions

  2. "Support OpenDocument Format (ODF)" (comments section only), via /r/Technology

  3. "Can Someone Please Kill .Docx", via /r/LinuxActionShow

  4. "OpenDocument Foundation Drops Support for ODF, Looks for Alternative Format"

(This one gave me a freaking heart attack, until I realised it was 7 years ago. x.x ), via /r/Programming


Wikipedia

  1. "OpenDocument"

  2. "Office Open XML"

  3. "Comparison of Office Open XML and OpenDocument"

  4. "OpenDocument Adoption" > "United States"

  5. "OpenDocument Software" > "Text Documents (.ODT)"

  6. "OpenFormula" ¹

  7. "MathML"


Other

  1. "Differences Between the OpenDocument Text (.ODT) Format and the Word (.Docx) Format", via Microsoft Office Support [official page]

  2. "InfoWorld Reality Check: ODF vs. OpenXML", via InfoWorld

  3. "Whatever Happened to Open Document File Format Support?", via Google Docs Help Forum



¹ It's not a huge consideration, but as OpenFormula is apparently related to MathML, and MathML is related to LaTeX, and I'm hoping to get started learning LaTeX in my free time soon, I thought maybe I should read it...

  • 2
    I'm upvoting you sheerly because you typed all that shit out. – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Sep 13 '15 at 23:00
  • 1
    (1) Haha, lol, thanks! It took me a while. xD (2) I love your freaking username. Awesome!! – SarahofGaia Sep 16 '15 at 3:52
5

I'm also a big FOSS supporter, and I detest using Microsoft products for many reasons.

That said, here's a fairly hardnosed take on the subject, from Charles Stross, a very successful author and sound thinker - who is also a FOSS advocate:

Why Microsoft Word Must Die

  • MS made what seems like an intensely stupid engineering decision about visual formatting: to simultaneously support two totally separate formatting schemes. These two do NOT work together very well. This creates intense complexity within the file format. It also creates low-level logic problems that are so bad that not even Microsoft can guarantee that the visual formatting of their own files is going to be consistent in all cases.

  • This weakness doesn't matter much to the home and office customers that make up the huge majority of Word users. But it's a real problem for extremely format-sensitive work. Like publishing.

  • MS, through market manipulation, managed to force almost everyone to use Windows, Office, and Word. The publishing industry was not exempt.

  • Then, MS decided to double down on their awful file format by breaking backwards compatibility with each new release of their own product. Making sure that everybody had to buy a copy of the new version of Word, or else be left behind. Charlie: "Each new version of Word defaulted to writing a new format of file which could not be parsed by older copies of the program."

  • As the file formats changed over time, they didn't get better. From Microsoft's point of view, the bad file format was a feature, not a bug: Word, having achieved near-monopoly status, is pretty thoroughly sheltered from competition.

Why I still have to use Microsoft Word (even though I hate it)

"You already know I hate Microsoft Word. But it takes actual exposure to generate such a volume of bile, and you probably won't be surprised to learn that there's a copy of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac on this laptop. Even though I don't use it for writing books, or even business correspondence (I've got Scrivener for the former task and Pages or LibreOffice for the latter) I can't get away from it.

Why?

It's all because of the workflow of the trade fiction publishing business."

  • The cryptic and impenetrable nature of the MS Word file format - especially its very hard-to-reproduce versioning system - means that writers and editors and typesetters and so on are all at great risk of introducing publisher's errors if they attempt to use anything except MS Word for communication between the various stages of the publishing process.

  • This has knock-on effects: yes, you can use what you wish (Charlie likes Scrivener) for composing a novel, assuming it can emit MS Word files; but you can't use that tool for exchanging edits. You have to use MS Word for editing. Even though it's not the tool that most people would use for writing a nontrivial work.

Charlie's commenters are (mainly) smart and helpful. Reading the comments is a good thing to do.

Not a happy read, but if you want to work with the publication pipeline, you need to know this stuff.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.