For the most part, I am a LibreOffice user in lieu of Microsoft Office. LibreOffice is free and meets most of my needs. I also sometimes dip my toe in Apache OpenOffice. LibreOffice and OpenOffice both use ODF formatting, which is an open-source standard in competition with Microsoft Office’s old binary format (doc, xls) and their newer streaming format (docx, xlsx).

For the most part, I don’t miss Microsoft Office*. The problem is… Google.

Google’s Android apps, Drive and OpenOffice, don’t read ODF files. There is a third-party app that can read them capably, one that can edit them clumsily, and one that can edit documents but not spreadsheets. It’s all harder than with regular MS Office docs, however, where there are multiple apps that can edit them well.

If Google were to offer support within Drive, that would be remarkably convenient. Not just for my phone, where I wouldn’t be doing anything non-major, but for the desktop as well. Their refusal to support ODF files is maddening. It’s honestly not clear to me why they, like OpenOffice and LibreOffice, shouldn’t use ODF by default. Their decision to do so, as well as their decision to not even support ODF at all (as Microsoft Office does) reaks of a desire to challenge Microsoft’s formatting with their own rather than simply to support an alternative.

Happilly for me, the UK has announced that it will be shifting to ODF formatting for all of its government documents. This may not stick, as the state of Massachusetts did the same (more or less) and then backed off. My hope, though, is that this will be the burr in the saddle that Google needs to finally do what they should have done all along.

* – Other than Google, the only problem with my decision has been that I do not have the command knowledge of MS Office that I used to. Which means that when it comes time to job hunt, I am going to have to re-familiarize myself with software I once had mastery over.

Category: Server Room

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