.odt: Best Long-Term File Format?

Gamoe

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Original poster
Sep 19, 2006
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While word processors come and go, I am much more interested in long-term support for the file format. I suppose it makes sense to say that the Word format will have a long life, but I'm trying to find something more open. I've used ClarisWorks/AppleWorks in the past only to see Apple drop the format in favor of something else. Now I use Pages, but Im none too sure Apple won't so the same, given time- And the lack of Linux/Windoze compatibility is a drag, too.

Therefore, I'm strongly leaning towards LibreOffice's .odt format for those qualities- cross-compatibility and long-term support for the file format, and I'd like to read some other thoughts on that. Of course, I am aware that pure text (.txt/ASCII) format is probably the ultimate as far as compatibility and support go, but I'm talking about a format that can retain formatting and images along with the text itself.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Why not use .doc or docx? MS word is not going anywhere and if you're concerned about long term viability. Word's file format will give you long term peace of mind
 
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dakwar

macrumors 6502
Nov 2, 2010
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Ditto Maflynn's suggestion. Also consider .rtf - it retains images and formatting.
 
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snberk103

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Oct 22, 2007
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An Island in the Salish Sea
Word's .doc/docx may seem like a good idea initially, and it probably will work for archiving. There are just too many documents out there created by Word for MS to ever abandon it. However, keep in mind that MS "updates" the Word file format every few years. So... .doc & .docx as examples. Documents shared between different versions of Word currently in use don't always format correctly. (Though, in a few years any Word document created today will likely have good legacy support).

Because .odt is an open source format it will always be supported, imo. In the future the support may come from a small core group of diehards, but they will exist - human nature being what it is, and all. As long as there is a propriety file format, someone will keep .odt alive.

I know this 'cause my crystal ball told me....

I was one of those who moved from Word Star to Word Perfect to IBM's Lotus Word Pro. Now on Pages... so prepare for a Pages EOL announcement anytime now. :)
 
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maflynn

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Because .odt is an open source format it will always be supported, imo.
You run the same risk that that the .odt format is going to be changed in newer versions and/or formatting may not work as well.

Just because its open source does mean its inherently better, or safer. Just look at the forking that occurred with Open Office and Libre Office.
 
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AlanShutko

macrumors 6502a
Jun 2, 2008
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While word processors come and go, I am much more interested in long-term support for the file format. I suppose it makes sense to say that the Word format will have a long life, but I'm trying to find something more open.
What are your goals in archiving the info? Do you want to keep the documents around so that you can edit them in ten years and change things? Or do you want to archive things so that you can view them as they look today, but not necessarily change things?

If you want to edit things down the road, you will need to accept that when you go back to edit it, you will have some work to do updating formatting and making sure it looks right. Even MS Word starts to misformat documents that are really old, because the formatting engine changes. For this, the comments everyone else have made about RTF and DOC are good: I have 20 year old RTFs that I can still edit. They don't necessarily look great out of the box, but they might not have looked great 20 years ago.

Another option is to look at a more static option like TeX or LaTeX. Those are great for longevity. I've got a cookbook I've been working on for ten or fifteen years. I've got other documents I can still format from almost 20 years ago. There is a learning curve; but at least you'll be able to use the stuff you learn for a very long time.

If you don't need to edit things in the future, I'd suggest PDF. There are standards for archiving PDFs which strip out some features that are less widespread. (PDF/A: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF/A). That will probably have vendor support for a long time.
 
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snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
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An Island in the Salish Sea
You run the same risk that that the .odt format is going to be changed in newer versions and/or formatting may not work as well.

Just because its open source does mean its inherently better, or safer. Just look at the forking that occurred with Open Office and Libre Office.
Fair enough. I'm counting on the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" crowd to maintain a word processor that uses the current .odt format. Small group perhaps...
 
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