Last week we held the Ecma TC45 face-to-face meetings out here in Redmond. It was a really productive week, and there should be a summary of the meetings posted to the Ecma site soon (in addition to an updated working draft of the spec). I'll blog more about that once the summary is posted, but in the mean time I wanted to point out another big milestone that was reached last week.

Last Friday, the folks working on the ODF translator tools released the August CTP (0.2-M1 release). This is the first major update since the initial prototype was released earlier this summer.

It's great to see that they are making such quick progress. Since the initial launch (just over a month ago) the following has occurred:

  • There have been over 25,000 downloads of the add-in for Word 2007, command line tools & source code.
  • The ODF translator project was one of the top 25 projects on source-forge for three weeks in a row
  • There has been a ton of positive feedback from governments since the announcement. As I mentioned in my original post, government customers were the key motivation behind the project.
  • There have been a number of feature requests, scenarios, defects, and other feedback received from the community since the project was launched.

Some of the cool things added with this first milestone: 

  • Support for Word 2003 & Word XP
  • Separate install kits for Office 2007, 2003, & XP (as described here http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/download.html)
  • Much richer support for the rich functionality in a wordprocessing document. There is now comprehensive support for Text, Formatting, Paragraphs, Images, Styles, Page Setup & document metadata scenarios.
  • Setup and installation testing has now been done using different versions of Office and operating systems.

Some other cool stuff has happened specifically around some of the target scenarios. For example, there are now compliance tests to assure that the translations works with the EU's day-to-day document processing scenarios. Some of the exit-criteria for this release included a scenario in which the translation of an EU law document into another EU language by an external service provider using OpenOffice; and a second scenario was around a member of the EU parliament requesting the draft version of a national law document from a member state public body which uses OpenOffice.

It really is good to see this kind of progress taking place. The schedule for the project as a whole is available up on the sourceforge site, and if you're interested you should go take a look. One thing that I really like about this project is that it helps to show that there are scenarios for different documents formats (HTML, RTF, plain text, ODF, Open XML, custom defined XML), and any time the customer gets to choose their format based on their needs is a good thing. The value of these two open, documented, XML formats (ODF and Open XML) really shines through as we can all look at the source code behind the project and see how the translations are being done.

-Brian