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To Word or Not to Word?

Ah, that is the question indeed. OpenOffice.org's default document format is the OASIS OpenDocument XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format, an open standard for document formats (it is saved with an .odt extension). The OpenDocument format is the closest thing to document freedom you will get (short of plain text). The format is vendor and application neutral. You are guaranteed support and portability because it is an open standard. Many organizations, such as the European Commission and the State of Massachusetts, are starting to recommend the OASIS OpenDocument format for the very reasons I've mentioned. For more on this emerging standard, check the Resources section at the end of this chapter.

Alternatively, the main reason for sticking with Word format is, quite frankly, that Word is everywhere. The sheer number of Word installations is the very reason that OpenOffice.org was designed to support Microsoft Office format as thoroughly as it does. That said, if you do want to switch to the OASIS OpenDocument format, Writer provides an easy way to do that. Rather than converting documents one by one, the Document Converter speeds up the process by allowing you to run all the documents in a specific directory in one pass. It also works in both directions, meaning that you can convert from Word to OpenOffice.org format, and vice versa. The conversion creates a new file but leaves the original as is.


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