Rant about open file formats

It struck me recently that even Google Docs isn’t truly open. If it were, other applications or web apps would be to access google’s API enough and be able to edit the document directly. To my knowledge this isn’t possible. (“Docs can only be edited within the Google Docs application.”)

In the 90’s the concern was that Microsoft Word (and Excel etc) were such important formats that a huge amount of information was locked in a proprietary format – that there should be an open alternative. OpenOffice  eventually has morphed into LibreOffice but standalone document editors have for the most part become irrelevant. Even Microsoft finally entered the cloud document business albeit many years after Google Docs and others.

Currently desktop MSFT products are very powerful – their cloud counterparts usually not so much. There are also a host of reasons why Google Docs are much better in the cloud. When you are editing an Office doc from the cloud, you can’t collaborate on it – when you edit in the cloud, you don’t have access to the power of the desktop version… you’re stuck.

My concern is that we’ve exchanged one monopoly for another. Any online document editing platform should enable exchange with another, or users may in fact be putting all of their eggs in one basket – and who knows when that basket may be closed or picked up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *