03 June 2007

Followup on Microsoft Office 2007 File Formats

This blog post is a follow-up to my earlier post on Microsoft Office 2007 and the "incompatible" file formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint ("incompatible" for those who are using an older version of Microsoft Office, open-source software, Mac OS X, or Linux).

The first possible solution is an article from the Tidbits Mac news site:
MacLinkPlus Deluxe Converts Word/Excel 2007 Documents
Thanks to Jim Dewitt, who alerted me that DataViz's venerable MacLinkPlus Deluxe, now at version 16, also includes read-only support for the file formats used by Word 2007 and Excel 2007 under Windows. So, if Microsoft's free beta converter doesn't work for you (see "Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter in Beta," 2007-05-21), and you want an alternative to Panergy's docXConverter, check out MacLinkPlus Deluxe. DataViz deserves kudos for sticking with the conversion game for so long and with such a large list of file formats. My experience is that conversions are seldom perfect, but any automatic tool that brings you closer to the desired result is a good thing.
The second solution was also mentioned on the Tidbits news site and may be useful for Windows and Mac OS X users:
You have received a file from the new Office 2007 and cannot open it...

If this file is a Word file (generally with the extension docx)

. . . have a look at docXConverter today!

With docXConverter you can simply:

Forget that one minute ago you couldn't open this file.

Continue your work without missing a single comma.

With docXConverter there is:

Nothing lost and nothing new to learn. Just double-click on the file and let docXConverter work for you, silently and without getting in the way.

docXConverter version 1.3 works on the following systems:

Windows 98 to Vista
Mac OS X version 10.2 to 10.4

Mac OS 9.2
Finally, a older Tidbits article also mentioned some future updates for the Mac OS X file format converter software for the Mac OS X version of Microsoft Office:
Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter in Beta
If you find yourself needing to access Office Open XML documents created by Windows users in Word 2007, Microsoft now has a free beta converter that may help. The Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 0.1b can convert .docx and .docm documents (the latter are Word macro-enabled documents) into RTF format, which can be opened in Word 2004 and Word X on the Mac. The converter provides both individual file and batch conversion.

In this beta release, macros and Visual Basic scripts are dropped from the converted file, and charts and SmartArt graphics are converted to pictures. Other problems that might crop up in the beta include resizing of graphics, loss of color fills and shading in tables, loss of certain document formatting and layout, loss of some Unicode characters and picture bullets, and font substitution. The conversion might fail entirely if the document contains a bibliography, citations, WordArt, or very large pictures, or if you use an SMB network volume as the destination. To summarize all that, most documents should convert fine, but some that use less-common features may have troubles. Nonetheless, it's great to see Microsoft's Mac Business Unit releasing this beta now; even though it's clearly not done, it will undoubtedly be useful to Mac users right away. Now if only they could give it a snappier name.

The Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac beta is a
24.9 MB download and expires on 31-Dec-07. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.8, and either at least Office 2004 11.3.4 or Office X 10.1.9 to open the converted documents. Free upgrades to both versions of Office are available from Microsoft's Mac Downloads page.

If you find yourself needing a conversion capability that this free beta doesn't support, it's worth taking a look at Panergy's $20 docXConverter, which promises to convert the majority of Word 2007 features to RTF as well.

Microsoft tells us that updates to the converter in a few months will include support for PowerPoint and Excel documents, and a version of it that provides read/write conversion will be integrated into Office 2004 six to eight weeks after the release of Office 2008 for Mac. For more about it, check out Geoff Price's post in the Mac Mojo blog.
These options may be useful for you when you receive a newsletter article or other church business documents in these new "incompatible" Microsoft Office file formats.


Boy in the Bands (Scott Wells) said...

Perhaps impolitic, but saying, "I can't read this format; please send it in RTF, plain text or another non-proprietary open format" with a link back to your first post on the subject would be my first choice.

(Of course, I can say that because open formats are a live issue at Day Job.)

Steve Caldwell said...


I agree that open standard file formats are an ideal solution that we should work towards.

However, it will take some education to get all church volunteers to the same level of knowledge and awareness on this solution.

This is compounded by the time constraints (e.g. newsletter deadlines, the board meeting that is happening tonight, etc).

For church volunteers working with each other and with the paid staff in a church, sharing of interformation is getting better.

I remember about 6 years ago when our congregation's President was complaining about typos in her column. She had written her column with her computer and had submitted the column to the office administrator on paper.

I suggested that it might make more sense for her to send the file electronically by email or floppy disk ("sneakernet"). That would cut down on the typing errors and allow for a better use of church staff resources by only typing the article once.

Today, nearly everybody is sending their newsletter submissions to the office administrator by email in an electronic format that's usable by the office staff (e.g. Microsoft Word, RTF format, etc).