Thursday, March 5, 2009

MSWord To OpenOffice And Back Again.

I've been working on a letter and needed a little bit of input.  I called my brother Dave and he said he'd take a look at what I had composed so far.

I sent him the letter as text in the body of an email.  Dave copied this text and pasted it into MSWord. He did some editing and then saved the document as an MSWord document. He emailed it back to me.

In the above screen shot, you can see the attachment with the ".doc" extension.  When this screen shot was taken, I was in the process of saving the document to my desktop. (I'm using the Thunderbird email program.)

Once I had the document saved, I simply double clicked the file and OpenOffice launched. Because OpenOffice is fully compatible with MSWord, the document opened and displayed exactly as Dave had laid it out.  I then added my changes and suggestions and then saved it as a .doc document (MSWord document).  Because Dave is running Windows and MSWord, He'll be able to open the document on his end with no problems.

And that's how easy it is to use OpenOffice with MSword.  There are no compatibility problems.

I'm also sending Dave a link where he can download OpenOffice for free. (You can get it here).  This way, he won't even have to bother with MSWord. He can use OpenOffice for Windows.  And we can continue to exchange documents in the OpenOffice format (.odt).  He on Windows, me on Linux. (and then I'm gonna get him to switch to Linux!)

Get Linux!


Fitzcarraldo said...

I use both Word and OpenOffice a lot, both at home and at work, and both for simple and complex documents. I find their files are interchangeable without problems for simple, straightforward text layouts, but have had terrible problems with OpenOffice wrecking Word documents with more complex text layouts, colours, indents, tables, embedded photos and drawings, and so on. I find that OpenOffice is not properly compatible with bullets and outline numbering in a Word document. If I'm writing a document containing predominantly text, simple indentation and headers for a Word-using audience then I have no qualms about creating it using OpenOffice, but if I'm preparing a complex document then I have to stick to Word. Just yesterday I used OpenOffice to make a simple edit to a sentence in a complex word document and, open opening it later in Word found that OpenOffice had messed up a lot of the document, requiring several hours of editing to fix. So Word and OpenOffice documents are not fully interchangeable. I'd say "mostly" interchangeable would be a better description.

lefty crupps said...

I've tried something similar, but the MSWord 2003 document looked very different on my OOo 2.4. So we found an Office 2000 cd and installed that, and the document looked very different there as well. Then we upgraded to OOo v3 and, in the fourth location, it again looked different.

If various versions of MS Word cannot display a document faithfully, I cannot expect to do so. The fact that OOo can open .doc formats at all is pretty great IMHO.

I don't understand the reasoning behind the MSOffice 'requirement' that so many people seem to think they have. Once there were many office suites; then less, but now again more choices than ever, and many of them use ODF. Go ODF, go!

MSzorady said...

Fitzcarraldo and lefty crupps,

Thanks for the terrific and insightful comments. I agree. OpenOffice may have some compatibility issues with complex MSWord documents. So I should amend my comments by saying that OO is mostly compatible. (I'm probably not editing terribly complex docs as I've never run into these problems) But, I'm confident that compatibility will get better and more folks will discover OO. Then, hopefully, the Open Document Format will become the standard.