Among other things, this week I have been developing a court form with the recently released LibreOffice 4.0 that uses ISO ODF/XForms standard formats. Why am I doing this? First, cost. The project I am working on simply couldn't afford to buy an office software suite.
But more important, the document format can be used by not only LibreOffice but also Microsoft Word 2013 and Corel WordPerfect. This allows for both compatibility and future flexibility. And it is easy to get "under the covers" to see if the data field tags and XML structure are working correctly. Using 7-Zip (and my friend uses Win-RAR) one only has to right click on the file and extract, in my case the contents.xml file, to see what is happening in the code. In other words, I have a lot more control over the work produced compared to the older word processing file formats. And of course I could have still used Microsoft Word to do this work as well.
So for those of you stuck in the old word processing file "hole", you should take some time to read Simon Phipps InfoWorld blog article: "How Microsoft was forced to open Office" published in August, 2012.
The blog post notes that Microsoft's manager for Office standards, Jim Thatcher stated:
"In the next release of Office, we have added two additional formats for use: Strict Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2. We have also added support for opening PDF documents so they can be edited within Word and saved to any supported format. By adding support for these standardized document formats, Microsoft Office 2013 provides users with more choice for office document interoperability."Also note that the Microsoft announcement also included the ability to edit PDF's as discussed in an earlier CTB article.
And last, the article discusses the development of LibreOffice to create "hybrid" XML/PDF files that Adobe introduced a few years ago. This is what the PDF/A-3 standard provides.
ODF works well in my current work. It is something for our court friends to consider in your future plans.