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Comparing XML: ODF, iWork, and MSOOXML

August 31st, 2007 Benjamin Horst

It’s not just ODF vs. MSOOXML in the world today, there are some other XML formats too. There’s UOF from China, and the native XML file format developed by Apple for its iWork suite, that come quickly to mind.

CyberTech Rambler investigates three XML formats in his post iWork XML Format vs ODF vs OOXML Preliminary Thoughts.

He gets inside Apple’s XML format for a close look and seems to be pleased by most of the design choices Apple made:

“What does all this say about Apple? It has the competency to implement a good XML structure for office documents. I cannot help but use this to take a swipe at OOXML. While I can see from a business point of view, participating in OOXML’s ECMA TC45 made sense, from a technical point of view, it tarnishes Apple’s reputation when one considers that it deliberated and approved that lousily-written OOXML in ECMA TC45. Also, since Apple is already brewing such an XML for its own document use, this further confirms my suspicion that Apple is there to ensure it can implement import/export filter only.”

From his perspective, OOXML is the least well-designed of the formats, and while Apple “supports” it as a (readable) format in iWork, it cannot save files into OOXML.

I don’t really care about OOXML format support for iWork, since I don’t think it will gain widespread adoption. However, I think ODF will, and I would like to see Apple’s iWork provide read and write support for ODF.

NeoOffice 2.2.1 Released

August 27th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

NeoOffice 2.2.1 for Mac OS X is available to the world starting today. (Slashdot also picks up the release.)

The project site announces “This release is based on the 2.2.1 code and includes all of the new 2.2.1 features. NeoOffice 2.2.1 can be downloaded here.”

NeoOffice is based on, but unfortunately there have been disagreements between the two projects. The official OOo Mac porting project has picked up a lot of steam recently, and has received fulltime employees paid by Sun, so if I can speak for the wider community, all we want is for these two projects to carry on amicably. While they have different goals and purposes, there is still a lot of common ground on which I personally would like to see ongoing collaboration.

Congratulations to the NeoOffice team for today’s release!

Mac Moving To Cocoa

August 13th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

On Friday, Philipp Lohmann reported on the progress being made in moving the Mac port of to the Cocoa framework.

Sun has moved aggressively in its efforts to support OOo on the Mac, and we’re already seeing great progress after just a few months.

Lohmann agrees, but also cautions that this is still a small step: “So the Mac port continues to thrive, but even with all we have already there is much yet to do. Any developer willing and able to help is welcome (please find build instructions here), Sun even offers a job in this area for people willing to work in Hamburg.”

Update on Mac Native Port

July 3rd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

I’m a huge fan of NeoOffice and all the work its developers have been putting into it, but I am also keenly following the development of the native Mac OS X port formally supported by Sun.

Click the link above to see Eric Bachard showing off some of the latest development; it’s good.

I hope to see the two efforts collaborate productively. Combined, I think OpenOffice Mac/NeoOffice stand a good chance of becoming number one on the Mac, which will be a huge win for the community and for the entire world of open source.

More Stories of Linux Adoptions

June 28th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Walt Hucks has a few posts about both high-profile and everyday users leaving Windows in favor of Mac OS X and Linux.

He covers “influencers” in his first post on the subject: “James Robertson is giving up Windows at home, because of the administration load. He joins a growing chorus of people switching to Mac and some to Linux instead of quietly accepting the forced march to the Vista compound.”

Now he’s posted Giving Up On Vista, chronicling his own family and friends’ migrations to Linux and Mac OSes. Much of it comes from frustrations with using Vista, while other reasons include control over one’s own data, the time cost of Windows management, and, most important to me, the simple elegance of Mac and Linux systems today.

Hucks writes, “In some of my recent calls home, I learned that one of MJ’s friends, the one who has been the most pro-Vista, has decided that he wants to get rid of some of the six computers his family has (all except one running Vista) and replace them with Macs. MJ has decided that one of his two WinXP computers is going Ubuntu or Mint in the next week or two. The other one will probably be converted soon after, now that he sees that the family administrator is less and less willing to spend his evenings and weekends fighting Windows to make it obey the wishes of the computer’s owner…”

But Hucks doesn’t declare war, instead he simply calls for mutual respect: “Since FLOSS and free culture help to spread the benefits of software and arts and information to all of society, the continuing attacks on FLOSS from Redmond are attacks on consumers, citizens, and individuals, not just attacks on perceived competitors. I call upon the Softies to begin to respect us all by ceasing the anti-FLOSS initiatives.”

Sounds reasonable! The extremists and throwbacks may still be in the Windows camp, but the pragmatists and those who just want to get work done efficiently and without hassle are jumping into the Mac and Linux waters. And if you’re ready to buy a new Linux box, check out ZaReason, a great Ubuntu-based PC retailer.

iPhone and Safari’s Open Standards Support

June 25th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Among many interesting details of Apple’s forthcoming iPhone is its apparent strong support for web standards. The Safari browser it ships with, now also available on Windows, is considered by many to be the most standards-compliant of all major web browsers.

Roughly Drafted considers the impact of the iPhone and the importance of open standards to its development, as well as the importance its success could have on further pushing open standards for the web and for mobile devices themselves.

“The iPhone offers the Safari web browser as a third party development platform. That means IT groups won’t have to write iPhone specific ports of their custom apps… It also means that any development invested in building custom applications targeted for the iPhone will automatically be cross-platform, and work on any other mobile devices that support a standards-based web browser.”

The first part of the article covers various reactions to the iPhone, and wonders whether negative pieces may be inspired by vendors who fear the impact this embrace of open standards will have on their proprietary mobile devices. The end of the article reviews how strong support for open standards has helped propel Apple’s latest product, functionality-wise, beyond its competitors even before it has been launched.

As an Apple and open source/open standards fan, the launch of the iPhone is going to be very interesting.

Lifehacker Recommends NeoOffice

May 23rd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Lifehacker publishes Free your Mac of Microsoft Office with NeoOffice.

Any SolidOffice reader will already be familiar with NeoOffice, so only a short quote is necessary:

“NeoOffice is based on previously mentioned, but its design, integration, and even the installation are much more “Mac-like.” Like, NeoOffice can be a bit slow when it’s firing up, but in general it’s a really nice program.

What is really important is the strong drumbeat of support building for and NeoOffice on Mac OS X, of which this article is but one note. This beat is reaching a crescendo now, and I think OOo/Neo dominance on the Mac platform is close at hand.

Sun to Support OOo Mac OS X Port

May 3rd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Until now, the efforts to port to Mac OS X were entirely volunteer-driven projects, without any major corporate sponsorship or full-time developers, just interested and motivated programmers working in their free time.

NeoOffice and the Mac Porting Project have been working hard for years, but with official support from Sun just announced, there are now two full-time, paid developers dedicated to the project.

A lot of us Mac users have been waiting for this for a long time! And now Sun’s decided the time is right.

Philipp Lohmann, one of the two Sun developers, writes:

“Some may ask: Why is Sun joining the Mac porting project? If you look around at conferences and airport lounges, you will notice that more and more people are using Apple notebooks these days. Apple has a significant market share in the desktop space. We are supporting this port because of the interest and activity of the community wanting this port. The new invigorated effort in Mac/Aqua-porting (basically since CWS aquavcl01) is an obvious indicator. I think this is the right way to go to make OOo on Mac as good as or even better than the other ports. Add in the growing Mac community as a whole and suddenly from Sun’s point of view Mac has a higher value since our strategy is to be multi-platform capable.”

This is great news for everyone involved! It also lends support to my feeling that OpenOffice (and derivatives) will achieve majority market share on OS X someday soon.

NeoOffice 2.1 Review

April 17th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

Newsforge reviews NeoOffice 2.1, the distribution of specifically for Mac OS X.

The review is positive, but it is balanced with recognition of some of the software’s shortcomings.

Newsforge concludes, “All in all, NeoOffice 2.1 is an incremental improvement over NeoOffice 2.0 Beta 3. Microsoft Office OpenXML compatibility is still a weak point, and if you are looking for help, you are better off avoiding the inconsistent and outdated documentation on the wiki and heading directly to the discussion forum. Nevertheless, NeoOffice remains far superior to the X11-based Mac builds of The OS integration work is impressive, and the new features make the suite as a whole all the more indispensable.”

I’ve been using NeoOffice 2.1 since its recent release and am very pleased with it myself. I strongly recommend it over spending money on its MS competitor for Mac users. And I very strongly recommend avoiding the MS OOXML (“Office Open XML”) file format and using the ISO standard ODF instead (which is the default format for, NeoOffice, KOffice, and many other applications).

Macintosh Biblioblog Recommends NeoOffice

April 2nd, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The site “Macintosh Biblioblog” publishes NeoOffice a Great, Free Microsoft Office Replacement.

The review is very positive and helps to get the word out. (That’s a pun–it’s a bible study blog!) Now is a great time to switch to NeoOffice:

“We’re putting in a computer lab of all iMacs at our church and so have been exploring Open Source solutions for our application needs. And with NeoOffice having a new version this week, I’ve downloaded it, installed it, and played with it. And I think I may never buy Microsoft Word again.”