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Developers produce first ODF and XML translator

Antony Savvas

Developers of an open source project to produce a translator between the Opendocument format (ODF) and Microsoft’s Open XML document format have introduced the first completed version of the tool.

The Microsoft-funded translator project is being developed by French company Cleverage and Sonata Software of India, and tested by Dialogika of Germany and India-based Aztecsoft.

The project is a major initiative by Microsoft to convince users, particularly in the public sector, that it is not interested in locking them into proprietary data formats built around its own products.

Governments such as India are now working towards adopting the open-source ODF format, and others are following suit.

When plugged into Microsoft Office Word, for example, the Translator provides users with the choice to open and save documents in ODF rather than the native Open XML format.

The Translator may also be plugged into competing word processing programs that use ODF as the default format to open and save documents in Open XML.

Microsoft announced its support for the open source project to build a technical bridge between Open XML and ODF in July 2006, to provide interoperability between formats.

Since inception, it has remained among the 30 most active projects on Sourceforge.net and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, said Microsoft.

Microsoft said that this project, the standardisation of Open XML within Ecma International, and the ongoing standardisation of Open XML in the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC), help ensure that customers have a choice in what formats they choose to store their data in.

Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft, said, “The translator project has been built to be independent of any one application, and has proved to be useful for both Microsoft and our competitors in solving an interoperability challenge for customers.”

Novell plans to implement the Translator in the next version of the Openoffice.org productivity suite.

The second phase of the translator project, including translators for spreadsheets and presentation software will begin this month.

The project will continue to be open source, developed on Sourceforge.net at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter

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