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20 August 2009, 11:54

Fraunhofer: ODF and OOXML only just compatible

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Fraunhofer FOKUS logo The Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communications Systems (FOKUS) has been investigating the compatibility of the ISO standardised document formats, Open Document Format (ODF, the standard format of OpenOffice) and Open Office XML (OOXML, from Microsoft) and have now publishedPDF the results of their studies.

The tests looked to establish how well information was retained as documents were passed between the formats. The test cases used a simple conversion from ODF to OOXML and vice versa and a round-trip conversion (ODF to OOXML to ODF and OOXML to ODF to OOXML) to examine how well document content was preserved.

The test documents ranged from empty text documents and documents with simple formatting to documents with forms, fields, tables and images, spreadsheets and slide presentations with animation and transitions. The conversion of these documents was judged, taking into account the presentation of the document's formatting, the preservation of metadata, the use of dynamic content and the implementation of structural properties such as headings, lists and tables.

The researchers come to the conclusion that the two formats are not as interoperable as may be suggested, saying that while simpler documents can be translated between the standards, documents that use more advanced functionality "can prove complex or even impossible" to translate. The researchers also point out that the quality of the application doing the translation has to be considered, as the rules for transformation between the formats are not standardised and each application has its own specific transformation rules. Even so, the researchers feel generally it cannot be guaranteed that a document which has been through a round-trip conversion will be identical to the initial document.


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