Support for OpenOffice XML format?

Have a problem? A question? This is the place for answers from other Express users.

Is the OpenOffice XML format important to you?

Yes, I have to work with OO files, OO compatibility is important to me.
5
16%
I don't have to read OO files, but it would be good to be able to, if necessary.
21
66%
Nope, never see it, don't care.
6
19%
 
Total votes: 32

marc
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Support for OpenOffice XML format?

Post by marc »

OK, sorry if I'm rehashing an old issue, but I've not seen it discussed here.

Is there any thought being given to supporting the OpenOffice XML file format? RTF is a decent format, that's been around a long time, but looking ahead, the OO XML format is open, seems to offer more features (or potential for more) that the 'aging' RTF format, and seems to be gaining support (particularly is standardising efforts are successful.)

I guess I post the questions; might OO XML offer more opportunities in the future? Might RTF become a limitation in the future? Is there any point changing, or at least adding OO XML as another of your supported formats?

I'm not claiming this is something you HAVE TO DO, but that it might be food for thought (that you've probably already covered, internally.)

Having argued for OO XML, there is, of course, value in have RTF as the native format, esp. as it makes anything I write in NWE instantly accessible to most OS X software, and this looks like it will be very good for the 'Spotlight' future.

Hmmm, have I negated my own points, yet...? :wink:

marc
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Post by marc »

Oops, OK, perhaps I shoulda looked in the survey section first, right? Ah, nothing like being a newb, and jumping straight in! :lol:

marc
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Post by marc »

OK, so not a big deal to most of you? Fair enough! I had just thought that this could add to NWE's viability as an alternate WP for OS X, being able to deal with the 'main' doc types coming from other platforms. :D

cchapin
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Post by cchapin »

Hi, Marc.

I haven't tried it, but I suspect that OOo Writer could open a Nisus file since its native format is RTF. NWE would undoubtedly choke on OOo's native format, but if the file were saved in Word format, it could do better. And better still as NWE fills out its feature set.

My general experience is that programs do a better job of importing than exporting. If the good folks at Nisus HQ go for OOo support, I think they'd do best to start with an import converter. That would be nice, but it isn't at the top of my personal list.

By the way, I didn't participate in the poll because none of the three answers quite fit my situation. I do use OOo, but compatibility isn't a big need for me.

--Craig

marc
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Post by marc »

Craig wrote:By the way, I didn't participate in the poll because none of the three answers quite fit my situation.
Fair enough, I added the poll on a whim, when I noticed the function when posting the question! :)
Craig wrote:I do use OOo, but compatibility isn't a big need for me.
Yes, it doesn't seem to be too much of a hot button issue, for users here.

Admittedly, my question was also about the suitability of the OOo file format, as a basis for NW moving forward, but Charles has addressed that on his blog (as many of you would probably know), in Why XML Word Processing formats are proprietary.

...and that pretty much closes the issue! :)

cchapin
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Post by cchapin »

As OpenOffice.org gains traction -- and I hope it will -- perhaps that will motivate Nisus and other software makers to add support for its format. I guess we're not there yet. The fact that the OOo formats are open should make that easier when the time comes.

I am pleased that Nisus Writer Express includes support for formats other than Microsoft Word (e.g., WordPerfect and AbiWord). It suggests that Nisus has a genuine interest in making NWE work well with other software, not just piggybacking on the dominance of the leading brand.

--Craig

marc
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Post by marc »

Craig wrote:I am pleased that Nisus Writer Express includes support for formats other than Microsoft Word (e.g., WordPerfect and AbiWord). It suggests that Nisus has a genuine interest in making NWE work well with other software, not just piggybacking on the dominance of the leading brand.
Yes, I definitely have to concur with you there, along with Charles' statement elsewhere on this forum that they'd happily support other formats (like Mariner), if they had the resources, or open libraries to do it.

On a somewhat related note, it would be nice for them to elevate PDF to a 'Save As' format, rather than the obfuscated method that Apple glommed onto the Print dialogue. Perhaps this would require a notice that PDFs are read-only, probably just in the title of format, e.g. PDF (read-only).

Another format that would be nice to see is HTMLD, which is conceptually related to RTFD, both coming out of the NeXT-era. As it suggests, this is an HTML Directory, that saves the HTML and associated images/resources locally referenced within a directory with it's bundle bit set. These files can be double-click read by OmniWeb if you have it installed, and treated as a directory and HTML files by others, and on other platforms.

This could come in handy with the promised improvements to the graphics capabilities.

Finally, with the HTML export, while I know this is handled via a OSS library, it will be great if 2.0 exports its styles to CSS, rather than the verbose styling used now. :)
Last edited by marc on 2004-07-28 18:01:50, edited 1 time in total.

charles
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Post by charles »

marc wrote:On a somewhat related note, it would be nice for them to elevate PDF to a 'Save As' format, rather than the obfuscated method that Apple glommed onto the Print dialogue. Perhaps this would require a notice that PDFs are read-only, probably just in the title of format, e.g. PDF (read-only).
2.0 has a "Save as PDF..." menu command.
marc wrote:Finally, with the HTML export, while I know this is handled via a OSS library, it will be great if 2.0 exports its styles to CSS, rather than the verbose styling used now. :)
We are definitely thinking about how to improve handing of web content. I'm curious what you intend to do with HTML files that you would save in Nisus Writer Express? If you are trying to create HTML for the web, why use a word processor instead of a web-page editor?

I know I ask questions like these a lot, but all of your feedback on this forum really helps us decide where to take features in our product!

Cheers,
-Charles
Charles Jolley
Nisus Software, Inc.

SpikeH1464
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Use of html saved from NWE

Post by SpikeH1464 »

8)
Hello all. I am eagerly awaiting NWE 2.0.

One of the features I most want is saving to html.

I write for the web (weblog, online instruction). Writing in NWE with its sophisticated user-friendly interface and then saving in html for publishing online would be a huge gain for me.

Here's what I do, must do, now, as I prepare to publish for my radio.userland weblog (see web address below). I write some notes in NWE or BBEdit. I expand ideas until the content seems to be "whole". Then I paste into a Dreamweaver web design page and start formatting and adjusting for optimum online look and feel. Once that feels good I check spelling and grammar and then copy the code from the upper half of the Dreamweave environment into my RU entry page (pretty much the same for Blosxom or for class web content pages).

Sure, RU templates handle the look and feel of each page.. but message content itself must often have some formatting sophistication as part of the getting an idea across. Html option offered by RU is helpful but feature poor. Thus I have to write content and html simultaneously or in a two step process.

Coding straight into html is something I can do, skill-wise, but in the midst of an all-out html fest I can easily lose the "feel" of the content message itself; spelling and grammatical errors creep in, the "look and feel" of the argument itself is less accessible.

Yes Dreamweaver makes these problems smaller (code in top window, look at bottom window for look and feel) but could not compete with a NWE WYSIWG interface that saved to html as a last act of publication. If this were the case I could focus directly on the content and let coding remain subsurface.
-----------------------------

In short I would be a more effective online communicator if I could concentrate more on the message and its design and less on the html representation of same. Thus I encourage, shall I say 'implore' :roll: , you to really crank on the html save capability of NWE.

I do think it would be a generally well received feature. If writing for paper or online venues could involve substantially the same work flow... more people would think of joining in. (via use of NWE 2.0's "save to html" feature to enable a nearly transparent entry into online venues )

marc
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Post by marc »

charles wrote:We are definitely thinking about how to improve handing of web content. I'm curious what you intend to do with HTML files that you would save in Nisus Writer Express? If you are trying to create HTML for the web, why use a word processor instead of a web-page editor?
Because the issue is not about designing web pages, it's about exchanging files in the lowest common denominator, and basically the only universal styled format that exists.

There are two distinct types of document sharing; editable, and non-editable, and these are (obviously) very much related to the available editor/viewer.

Sure there's RTF, and PDF, which are pretty universal, but each requires a client, and has its own characteristics that are useful in different circumstances; RTF for sharing editable files, PDF for non-editable, high-fidelity sharing/printing etc., whereas HTML is a really good, lowest common denominator format, that everyone can read, for (largely) non-editable, easy online sharing/publishing.

Realistically, both RTF and PDF are pretty universal, if you're just looking at PCs, but HTML is the lingua franca, it's basically the most accessible format available, on PCs, PDAs, phones, and things come, and it's easily indexed and searched, within existing infrastructure.

Think academics, intranets, and yes, some basic web publishing, where the message is more important than the design, OR the HTML is destined for a CMS; pretty much SpikeH1464's points, but also for 'offline' sharing, where 100% fidelity may not matter, but (basically) 100% accessibility is... pretty much everyone has an 'HTML reader' these days.

I'm not advocating that Nisus attempt to be a WYSIWYG HTML editor; there's a place for these types of app, but it's a word processor, and web sharing of your 'words' is a big part of contemporary work/life.

aguynamedjoe
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Re: Why use NWE for HTML?

Post by aguynamedjoe »

marc wrote:Finally, with the HTML export, while I know this is handled via a OSS library, it will be great if 2.0 exports its styles to CSS, rather than the verbose styling used now. :)
We are definitely thinking about how to improve handing of web content. I'm curious what you intend to do with HTML files that you would save in Nisus Writer Express? If you are trying to create HTML for the web, why use a word processor instead of a web-page editor?

...
Cheers,
-Charles
I maintain a website for a boarding school committee/board. The members live in several states. I get some reports as Word documents and open them and save them as HTML. I may then edit them to standardize formats, add hyperlinks, etc.

Used to be Word was so bad with the HTML it generated that I have perl scripts to clean it up. I switched to using NWE for the job, and that HTML is saner, but truly ugly due to the style info in every paragraph heading. I usually have to delete it all and then restyle. Having NWE pass the style info to the HTML (as an embedded style sheet, rather than in each paragraph marker) would be a significant improvement.

Would also be nice to be able to select some text and attach a URL, so it could act as a hyperlink -- ( Use the system's "open" command to open it! -- that would open in in NWE if appropriate, or pass it to the default browser, or pdf reader, or... Note that that could work in a normal Nisus document... (Does rtf support links?) NWE doesn't do that yet, does it?) -- and save it as an anchored href in the HTML...

joe

marc
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Re: Why use NWE for HTML?

Post by marc »

aguynamedjoe wrote:Would also be nice to be able to select some text and attach a URL, so it could act as a hyperlink -- ( Use the system's "open" command to open it! -- that would open in in NWE if appropriate, or pass it to the default browser, or pdf reader, or... Note that that could work in a normal Nisus document... (Does rtf support links?) NWE doesn't do that yet, does it?) -- and save it as an anchored href in the HTML...

joe
I beleive that RTF does/can handle links/URLs, I would very much agree that this would be a useful addition, and presumably not too difficult to add. Like you I want to be able to simply post documents to an intranet, and not bother with editing HTML (and FWIW I have a background in web dev.)

In a situation where you're posting to a CMS, it would be great if you could control the charcteristics of the stylesheet, and match up the styles used in the NNW doc, with a organisation's stylesheet, to produce compliant, minimally styled text/HTML for posting to an intranet (of course there are significant details to be worked out in this case...)

jbravo556
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Post by jbravo556 »

We are definitely thinking about how to improve handing of web content. I'm curious what you intend to do with HTML files that you would save in Nisus Writer Express? If you are trying to create HTML for the web, why use a word processor instead of a web-page editor?
My main use of NWE is as a scriptable RTF -> HTML converter, and it does a decent job of it. So a more solid html converter would be extremely welcome. And the less cruft gets dumped into the resulting html files the better.

By the way, what's with that EXTREMELY long class name for the 'Normal' style that gets added to each <p> tag in NWE 2.0? The class name is something like 100 characters long! That causes the html files to be extremely bloated.

BHD
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Post by BHD »

marc wrote:Admittedly, my question was also about the suitability of the OOo file format, as a basis for NW moving forward, but Charles has addressed that on his blog (as many of you would probably know), in Why XML Word Processing formats are proprietary.

...and that pretty much closes the issue! :)
I'm afraid Charles' post on this issue -- and the nature of the poll questions posted here -- reflects a really narrow view of XML. XML is not a document format; it is a standardized way to represent data that has a whole infrastructure of tools built around it to query, transform and reuse that content in ways that go way, WAY beyond what's offered in RTF. And the OOo file format is developed by a technical committee that is not limited to OpenOffice developers.

The reason why to support XML is because it will -- if you do it right -- open doors for you and your users you never dreamed were shut closed. If you don't have the resources to do so, that's one thing, but to reject deep support for XML because users aren't clamoring to exchange their documents with OpenOffice users is a copout, and missing the point entirely.

The advent of CSS, XHTML and XSLT ought to prompt developers designing productivity applications like word processors to rethink some basic premises. The OpenOffice developers (and MS itself) are doing just that; what is Nisus going to do?

If you want to improve web content support, the best place to start is XML; (X)HTML and CSS then just become one output option among many.

mntbighker
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XML

Post by mntbighker »

Thank's to BHD, I could not have said it better myself. Another big advantage I see to using xml is that it is mostly "human readable". When things go wrong as they always seem to, with xml you can pick through your file and identify problems. If you take for example Word documents, I can't begin to count the number of times my users have pitched 4 hours of work when Word refused to save or open a file that had become corrupt. MS is supposedly on the road to adopting xml and they would have you believe this is for standards compliance. But they will surely wrap binary information in the xml so they can continue the quest to hold your data hostage and force you to continue using their products. I hope more developers will come to understand the things BHD is saying. Something only really hinted at in his post was metadata. Apple is starting down the road with OS level metadata support. The problem with metadata is cross platform support. Graphic files have EXIF and audio files have ID3, but there is no universal metadata standard :-(

--MM

p.s. RTF appears to have the advantage of human readability as well. It just lacks all the other stuff xml has going for it.

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