Saturday, October 21, 2006

Would you install and use MS-Office if it is given free of cost?

I would say, NO. I actually have been given a three cd set MS office package. It is lying around in my drawer from a long time. If you are thinking why the heck I have not installed something that comes free, here are the reasons
  1. I have not felt the need to install it. I have OpenOffice.org and Abiword installed which takes care of most of my MS office document viewing requirements. To typeset new docs, I have LaTeX and nothing can beat the beauty of a LaTeX doc.
  2. Word, Excel etc cannot save in open document formats. This is the primary reason for me to not typeset my docs in MS office. My docs are saved in a format which only MS can understand properly. This, is not good.
  3. Due to reason 2, I cannot write scripts and parse MS Office docs easily. Parsing is a basic requirement for automation and automation is impossible with closed source binary formats.
Note to self: Together we will fight.

Thanks to Mr. Atul Chitnis who enlightened me about point 2

4 comments:

Abhijit Pai said...

For point 2:
http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/download.html#add-inXP

Also, as on today, Microsoft:
http://news.com.com/2100-7344_3-6125699.html
No clue about the usefulness of this one though, and I didn't bother checking whether M$ lived up to this deadline.

Devadutta D Ghat said...

These tools are just reverse engineered stuff and never can render all the attributes of the word document properly. For that matter, AbiWord and OpenOffice.org, along with docs.google.com can read word doc formats, but never "properly". Thats why I used the word "Properly".

When MS actually starts supporting ODF in full swing, or at least support their much promised XML, I will have lesser issues with usingMS Word.

Abhijit Pai said...

I would think there is a difference between the tools I mention and the tools you mention. There might not be the need to have done reverse engineering to create the tools I mentioned.
Say, .doc is an encrypted format. All these tools will do is: wait for Word to decrypt it and then save the plaintext into the required open format. What OpenOffice.org etc. have to do to open .doc is to break that encryption.

Devadutta D Ghat said...

Um... If we were to believe what the home page says, odf-converter seems to be funded by MS!
This is good. So, once I install word, I will install this and try save my documents in odf and open it in OpenOffice.og to see if there is any deprecation when the conversion takes place. If no, I will use word when the need arises.

Thanks for the link.

But I still feel and believe that automation is much simpler with scriptable software like LaTeX.

If there is a way to run scripts to generate multiple docs with variable content using word, please let me know.