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18 July 2012, 10:54

Improved OOXML support for LibreOffice and OpenOffice

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Developers from a project hosted by the Open Source Business AllianceGerman language link are working to improve the compatibility of LibreOffice and OpenOffice with Microsoft Office. The German municipalities of Munich, Jena and Freiburg, and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU) and the Swiss Canton of Vaud – who together use OpenOffice on around 18,000 workstations – have jointly raised €140,000 (approximately £109,000) funding for the project.

The goal is to improve the way in which Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents that have been saved in the Microsoft-developed OOXML format can be imported, displayed and edited. Among other things, the developers plan to enhance the formatting of frames, images, tables and lists in Word documents. They are also working to fix the display of comments in Word and Excel files and add the option to embed fonts in ODF and OOXML documents. They say, however, that they need a further €30,000 (£23,000) to complete the font embedding feature and have called on interested OpenOffice and LibreOffice users to contribute development funds.

In December, the OSB Alliance's Office Interoperability Working Group introduced a specification which mapped out the improvements that need to be made in these areas. The extensions are being implemented by developers from SUSE and by Hamburg-based open source specialists Lanedo.

The work is being done in a branch of LibreOffice, which, according to project lead Matthias Stürmer from Ernst & Young, already offers better OOXML compatibility than OpenOffice. However, the patches will be released under the Apache 2 licence and will be suitable for integration into OpenOffice as well. Development is already under way, and the first code can be tested in the daily builds of LibreOffice. The development of the most important components is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.

Update 20-07-12: The Open Source Business Alliance has now set up a bank accountGerman language link for individuals who want to donate money towards the €30,000 still needed to achieve funding for the font embedding feature.


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