Hi everyone,

This blog is intended to tell about the ODF Converter (also known as "ODF Translator") project, mainly from a developer point of view. I am the project leader, working for a french IT company called Clever Age - but I hope other developers will also participate in this blog, especially the polish team (Clever Age has developers in France and Poland). You may ask yourself why we decided to launch a blog more than 2 months after the beginning of the project... Well, there are many reasons, one of them beeing that we don't have enough work on this project, so we can spend time describing our lives ;-)

No, to be honnest, we initially thought that there would be much more people getting involved into the project (that's why we decided to make it Open Source), and we intended to rely heavily on the community, especially when decisions related to user feedback have to be taken. But until now, we only had one proposal for external help, and I must be almost the only one who posted on the project mailing lists... There are still some questions on the forum (yeah, today we had a new question!) or directly sent to my e-mail address, but that is very far from what we expected, especially when considering the buzz made by Microsoft announcement at the very beginning of the project. Now "the sea is quiet" (well, not sure this makes sense in english, but anyway, forgive my poor english: I'm french ;-) and trying to talk about the project and to make people react (hope, hope...) won't hurt for sure.

When developing such a converter, we face many issues due to the fact that the formats we're working on (OpenDocument and OpenXML) are quite different in many aspects. Some features simply don't exist in one of the two formats and can't be preserved (for instance: OpenDocument's "table shadow" has no equivalent in OpenXML); others don't exist but we might use workarounds (for instance: OpenXML does not have the "page break before" feature for tables, whereas OpenDocument does; in this case, we can add a page break before the first content of the table, it will behave the same way). The problem with such workarounds is that they may destroy the consistency of the document. A quick example: imagine that default fonts are not the same in both formats (say it is Bitstream for OpenOffice and Times for Word): should we enforce the font to be Bitstream each time we encounter characters with default font? Or should we let the default font beeing applied? With the first solution, the converted doc will look the same as the original one, but if someone adds some text with the default font, it will differ from the rest of the document (problem of consistency). With the second alternative, the converted doc won't look like the original one (Bitstream font will be replaced by Times), but the document will remain consistent with further modifications. OK, this example is not a good one, because in both formats you can specify the default font - but I think it is good for an illustration (you can find "real" examples on the users mailing list of the project).

I think this blog can be a good place to discuss such issues - so we'll try to expose them when possible, hoping that people will find an interest and give their opinions! We are very attentive to user feedback and open to any sugestion.