I remember the days when I had to sheepishly asked people who wanted to share files with me to go back to .doc or .docx as none of the Google properties would talk to ODF files. That was quite embarrassing because I invested a lot of time in liberating those people from Microsoft’s vendor-locked file formats.
Fair enough. But it was a Catch 22 situation. Google was talking about not seeing demand for a product that no one could use from within its ecosystem. Since Google didn’t support ODF, folks like me were forced to either go back to Microsoft formats or ditch Google services.
Even if there was demand for ODF, the lack of support wasn’t a threat to Google’s business.
We’ve been listening to your feedback, and we’re happy to say that we now offer support for importing all three major ODF (Open) file formats: .odt files for documents, .ods for spreadsheets, and .odp for presentations.
I checked my Linux desktop and Chromebook after today’s announcement to find ODF playing well with Google products. Gmail gave the preview of the odt file and I was able to open and edit it in Google Drive.
However, when I tried to open the same file on my Android phone, Gmail refused to show the preview. I downloaded the file and then uploaded to Google Drive, Docs wouldn’t open the file calling it ‘unknown type’.
The problem may lie in the inner workings of Google. During the PlugFest, DiBona explained that different components of Google products, such as file viewer, are being developed separately for Gmail and Docs within the company. So what may work with one Google product on one platform may not work on the same product on a different platform. That’s exactly what I am experiencing here. I assume that ODF support will eventually trickle down to Android.
Going back to the desktop, much more work is needed to be done by Google to fully support ODF. There are still many things that it doesn’t support – for example track changes, which my editor would be very happy to see.
I believe this is the beginning of Google’s support of ODF and things will get better with time. If Google does want to sell Drive and Chromebooks to governments, it will have to offer better support for ODF.