Lodahl's blog: Fuzz about Google supporting odf

17 December 2014

Fuzz about Google supporting odf

Since Google announced their new so called support for the open standard for documents; odf, there has been a lot of fuzz. And yesterday when the new version of Google Docs and Drive, there has been even more fuzz.

I'm happy that Google is finally implementing support for odf BUT... and there is a but:

Honestly I'm not impressed. I'm very disappointed.

First of all because the support comes way too late. Secondly because its not even close to be good.

Back several years ago Google was politically supporting the process of getting odf approved as an open standard but they never really bothered. The business was clearly to keep both odf and ooxml/docx out of their products and keep their own proprietary document format.

Implementing good and solid interoperability is actually not difficult but it is a huge task. Google could have done this three or four years ago if they wanted to. But they didn't. Both proprietary software vendors has been busy making interoperability difficult while the providers of true open standards has been improving interoperability month by month. 

What about the implementation?
I'm not impressed by the implementation. Not at all. First of all because it works differently between different browsers and computers. If you are running a computer with chromium OS or is using a Chrome browser you get the best result. You will experience pretty good results besides the lack of collaboration features like comments and change tracking. One would think that collaborative tools would be obvious for Google to implement as the first. Collaboration between users are one of Googles advantages over local installed software.

If you are using another browser (I have tried with Firefox) the core functionality works completely different. If you have odf-files in you Google Drive and opens them with Google Docs, you are actually not editing you odf-document, but a converted Google Docs document. And now you have two versions of the same document. Both claiming to be the same file because the new Google Docs document is claiming to be an odf-document (the name is still xyz.odt) but now in Google Docs format. And as a consequence the default download format is ... docx.

Please try again Google. And this time please support odf in stead of stealing documents from odf. And don't force users to use a specific operating system or browser. You make me think of the browser war between Netscape and Internet Explorer when websites was "Optimized for [insert browser brand here]".

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