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20 March 2013, 12:45

OX Text offers open source collaborative DOCX/ODT editing

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Open Xchange logo

Open Xchange has announced that the major new feature of its OX App Suite will be OX Text, a web-based collaborative word processor which handles DOCX and ODT documents natively, without conversion to an intermediate format. DOCX is Microsoft Office's native XML format and ODT is the document format of OpenOffice and LibreOffice; both are ISO standard document formats.

The lack of conversion to an intermediate format reduces risk that content will be lost in any conversion. OX Text also sets out to intelligently ignore content it does not handle which means that document content like "Smart Art" or Charts remains untouched by the web editing and complex documents can be worked on on the web.

OX Text is due to be released in April, as both open source (backend under the GPLv2, front end under a CC-Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike 2.5 licence) and as a commercial version aimed at companies and service providers. Rafael Laguna, Open Xchange CEO, told The H that his interpretation of Non-Commercial in the licensing was such that companies could use the software in-house, but not sell it as a service to others. Companies that want support will have to purchase the software from Open Xchange.

OX Text will be available to run as either standalone or integrated into OX App Suite where it can be launched from the cloud storage file browser or from within email messages in the OX Mail service. OX Text has been developed by a group of former OpenOffice developers who joined the company after trying to, controversially, launch Team At Open Xchange, they have focused on creating an HTML5 and JavaScript web-based front end and backend services that can handle a full document round trip.

A demo version of OX App Suite with a preview of OX Text is available via a button at the bottom of the OX Text launch page. Early limitations mean that only one person can edit a document at a time, while others can view those edits taking place. There's also a lack of support for headers and footers, but that is likely to be addressed in the second half of the year when a second major release of OX Text is due. The company also hopes to have spreadsheet and presentation software joining the OX Text software to create a rounded office application suite on the web.


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