office apps

Chad Perrin perrin at
Wed Jun 9 00:44:47 UTC 2010

On Tue, Jun 08, 2010 at 03:55:40PM +0200, Polytropon wrote:
> On Mon, 7 Jun 2010 22:28:04 -0600, Chad Perrin <perrin at> wrote:
> > I've never had a client who wouldn't take either PDF or plain text. 
> And five minutes later, they call you by phone and ask how they can
> edit the PDF file... :-)

Hah.  Good point.

. . . though in cases where they'll take PDF, it's usually for something
like an invoice, so this doesn't come up much in practice.

> Just a friendly sidenote:
> > On
> > the other hand, clients who prefer Word DOC(X) but will take plain text
> > if they "must" have a tendency to immediately open it in Word, save as
> > DOC(X), then send the friggin' thing back to me in that format after
> > making some changes.
> You are aware that there is not "the" DOC format? The many
> various "Word" programs use slightly different formats, and
> rendering a document heavily depends on the current environment
> "Word" is running in, e. g. which fonts are installed, even
> which printer is installed - all this can have influence on
> how the document is opened.

Yeah, I'm fully aware.  That's why I said DOC(X) -- because it's DOC (any
version) or DOCX.  It's easier to say DOC(X) than "some variation of DOC
or DOCX".

> Furthermore, the DOCX format isn't really an open format. It
> *claims* to be standardized, but it's not; even MICROS~1 didn't
> implement it properly, and there are still blobs inside the
> XML, which can lead to problems.

I think Microsoft's mis-implementation (according to the "standard") was
quite intentional.

> There are many problems you can encounter in import/export
> settings. So the only way to be sure is to use a standardized
> format.

My preference is plaintext.  It doesn't get much more "standard" than

> I've worked in a setting where interoperability was the main
> goal, because there were BSD, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X and
> even "Windows" machines, and our choice was OpenOffice, which
> worked excellently across the platforms. It wouldn't have been
> possible with MICROS~1 binary garbage in between. :-) is a heinous snarl of cat hair and feces, from my
perspective.  It's little better than MS Office, frankly.

Your mileage obviously varies.

> > I keep hoping the day will come when people who prefer MS Word are the
> > rarity, rather than me being the odd man out.
> It *will* happen, just consider the costs and the growing
> uncomfortability of those programs (not counting those who
> regularly use pirated copies to have "the same pictures at
> home" as they know them from work). :-)

Actually, "pirating" is one of the main reasons MS Office is the dominant
office suite in general use -- just as it is with MS Windows, too.
There's not as much reason to switch to something free when the Microsoft
option is "free" too.  This might seem like kind of a foreign concept to
many users of open source software, but I've discovered that even when
they don't *respect* copyright law, open source software users and
developers tend to *follow* copyright law a lot more diligently than the
general run of computer-using humanity.

From what I've seen, people who use nothing but Microsoft, Adobe, and
similar relentlessly closed-source consumer software are much more likely
to think *nothing* of downloading cracked versions of commercial software
than open source software users.  That includes people like me, who
simply don't use "pirated" software and believe that copyright law as a
whole is a suppurating pustule on the face of modern civilization.  Then,
of course, if I get into a discussion of the ethicality of copyright law
with one of those hypocrites, he almost invariably ends up accusing me of
rejecting the ethicality of copyright law for no deeper reason other than
trying to justify "stealing".

Ironic -- don't you think?

I'm a bit off-topic.  Here's the on-topic:

I wish I'd find a foolproof, simple, transparent way for me to see and
edit well-formatted plain text no matter what nonsense bloated featuritis
infected office suite anyone else wanted to use.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
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