I’ve been using open office for 8 months now, and had no serious interoperability issues with receiving documents that are predominately written in Microsoft Word. Well that came to an end this week with 2 incidents that are worthy of recording:
Firstly, I recieved a quotation by email for some building work that was written in MS Word. I opened it in Open Office, read it, printed it, and it all looked the same. It was competitive, (but not silly) and I entered into many hours of late stage discussion and negotiation with the sender over a potential deal. After about 4 hours of my time, it emerged that the quotation I had on screen and in hard copy was different to the intended version, and crucially missed a sub total of Â£7,500 that completely destroyed the bid. (There was no grand total BTW – I can do maths!).
Dropping the font size to 2 point on each of the DOC pages emailed to me I “found” the missing text, hidden under the footer graphic. I’ve never seen this in Word, and it was a lesson that all formatting dosnt display as intended on Open Office. A waste of my time and that of the bidder.
Similarly, I’ve been signing off a major deal this week as part of my duties as a non executive director of Business Link, and the signature page of an emailed document I had to sign printed differently on open office to that of the “original” document. With so many lawyers around for all sides, someone noticed and at the (very) last minute we had to get the document resigned by fax to enable completion.
Now I dont feel agrieved by these 2 episodes, but it has made me more wary. For casual use, OpenOffice writer is excellent, and I’m very grateful to the community to have use of it. However, in business we cannt ignore the current status of the MS Word .DOC document format as the “definative” document format at the moment. If you try to work with other businesses by email using open source software, you do have to be careful that you are getting what was intended.
- PDF. easy, obvious.
- Or we could just have ONE combined ISO standard for documents (isn’t that ODF???) and not 2 “standards”.
We dont want (or need) OOXML as a second “standard” in business.
Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if there was only 1, open (source), standard file format?