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LibreOffice's compatibility to MS office formats... or what can LO learn from WPS?

asked 2017-10-13 20:28:31 +0200

Gibtnix gravatar image

Hello everyone,

I am using LibreOffice for years now, both on Windows and Linux... however, regularly I have to open and sometimes even to save MS office files. To my experience, opening usually works but unluckily some elements are messed up, e. g. try to open a pptx with slides containing formulas, Impress totally messes up the respective slides. Further, saving can be really problematic, saving a pptx with impress even might cause PowerPoint to resist to open the file.

So why not use open document formats instead? Well, if this was my choice I would completely switch over from docx, xlsx, etc. to the open document formats, objectively comparing them I personally would prefer the non-proprietary ISO-standardized open formats. However, in reality if you exchange files (editable, i.e. not PDFs) with other people, in almost all cases in practice you will receive a MS office file... somehow annoying, but reality. :-(

I always thought that LO's support for MS office formats is the maximum you can expect from non-MS software, since these are proprietary: Theoretically standardized, in face MS is the only one defining and changing the standard, even including binary parts in doucments only MS office understands... or at least I always thought it would be.

Recently I heard about WPS office, not open source, but at least supporting a free version for Windows and Linux (and mobile)... I was extremely interested in its support to MS office files, and I was quite surprised: Everything I tried so far (which LO unluckily messes up) works just like a charm with WPS, all docx, xlsx, and pptx files are correctly opened, editing works quite similar to MS office.

So if WPS can handle these files like MS office, isn't it possible for LibreOffice to support them in the same way? LibreOffice fully supporting MS office would be such a perfect piece of software... :-)

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Being MS or non-MS software doesn't mean much in this regards. There are a number of problems here: 1. Any software starts with implementing some part of standards, and continues to expand the coverage over time. Which part is better covered by this specific software depends on chosen order, and that your documents open fine in one SW just reflects that you have been interested in a subset of documents that fail on LO; but there are much more documents that don't fail in LO, and testing them

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-10-14 07:55:45 +0200 )edit

would show a better picture of other suite's support. 2. Different office suites use different internal representation (model) of document. Any file format must be matched against this model, and some formats might match well, while other might have worse matching. So, is some SW has better match of some parts of standard, doesn't necessarily mean that that part of standard can easily be transalted to another suite. LO is ~same age as MSO, and its model is independent of model.used by MS prods.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2017-10-14 07:59:34 +0200 )edit

100% agree and my aim was not to complain about LO's support in any how. Cleary LO supports its own formats better than the MS ones and if you just want to get things done using LO, the open document format is your way to go. But as soon as you have to coorperate with MS office users (which I regularly have to do), there is a pretty high risk that you will be in trouble with LO (sooner or later). I personally prefer LO over any other office suite, but MS office formats are de-facto standards :-/

Gibtnix gravatar imageGibtnix ( 2017-10-15 12:38:11 +0200 )edit

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answered 2017-10-14 10:50:57 +0200

gabix gravatar image

The difference is precisely about being free vs. non-free software. WPS licenses some libraries from Microsoft. LO can't do it because it's free software.

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Thanks for this information, I never heard about the fact that WPS directly uses MS libs... especially this is interesting since I would guess that MS libs are Windows-only while WPS also supports Linux and mobiles. I also didn't find some information about this... can you supply me with further information about this and which libs WPS uses? Would be pretty interesting for me :-)

Gibtnix gravatar imageGibtnix ( 2017-10-15 12:49:27 +0200 )edit

Sorry, I can't remember the exact source of information. However, Microsoft is mentioned in Kingsoft's license agreement as the vendor of some Third party resource pack or whatever.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2017-10-15 19:12:13 +0200 )edit

Ok thanks anyway... I just checked Kingsoft's license agreement, MS is not mentioned there (did not fully read it, only searched for MS and thrid party stuff). Maybe they changed this in the past, as far as I know the Linux version has been released this year, maybe they do not use MS libs anymore to support Linux? However, if this is the case, it would be interesting to know if this awesome MS format support could be integrated in LO as well... Too bad that WPS isn't open source :-/

Gibtnix gravatar imageGibtnix ( 2017-10-15 20:02:26 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2017-10-13 20:28:31 +0200

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Last updated: Oct 14 '17