Microsoft reveals how Office 2007 will support ODF

The software maker has published detailed guidelines on how it plans to implement support for the OpenDocument Format in Office 2007

Microsoft has published detailed guidelines on how it plans to implement support for the OpenDocument Format in Office 2007.

The guidelines are the latest step towards Microsoft's planned implementation of the Oasis OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.1 standard in Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2), which is scheduled for release in the first half of 2009.

Microsoft announced that Office 2007 would support ODF, as well as Adobe's PDF, in May. The next version of Office, code-named 'Office 14', is also intended to support ODF.

ODF, a rival document format to Office's native format, has become popular with governments and schools. Microsoft, acknowledging requests for compatibility with ODF, had earlier released a converter to allow Word users to open documents saved in ODF, but Office 2007 SP2 will provide the first direct support for ODF in Office.

Microsoft said its goal in publishing the details is to help make different implementations of ODF in different software products more consistent, by giving developers a model to imitate.

"By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing details that others can use as a reference point for their own applications," said Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability at Microsoft, in a statement.

The guidelines were published by the Document Interoperability Initiative (DII), an interoperability working group that Microsoft set up in March.

Microsoft's notes include details on which attributes and elements of the ODF standard are supported, as well as details about how Office functionality maps to specific constructs in the ODF specification, Microsoft said.

For instance, ODF allows for many gradations of font weight, while Office uses standard or bold fonts, so Office maps the ODF font weights to standard or bold, Microsoft said.

The notes complement a higher-level overview published in August on the Microsoft Developer Network website, the company said.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced several tools intended to improve the compatibility of its own Office Open XML (OOXML) document format with other formats and third-party applications, including an OOXML document viewer plug-in for Firefox and version 2.5 of its OOXML-ODF translator tool.