Import and export of MS Office alternatives
Thread poster: Mario Chavez

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 5

I use MS Office 2007 products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), which my TEnT and CAT tools import and export properly. As the cost of MS Office goes up, whether it's version 2010, 2013 or later, I wonder if anyone has:

a) Used an alternative program, like LibreOffice or OpenOffice, and tried to import and export .docx files (for instance) in CAT or TEnT tools;
b) Had any issues with importing/exporting docx, pptx or Excel file formats after opening or manipulating them in an alternative to MS Office programs.

Your help and comments are appreciated. Please note, however, that I'm not discussing the merits, pros and cons of one brand over another and I'm not proposing a debate about Microsoft monopolies. That's outside the scope. Thanks!


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CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 16:00
Loss of formatting Oct 5

When you use an alternative office suite or word processor, you’re bound to experience some loss of formatting in certain documents. I read that SoftMaker scores high on file format compatibility.

http://www.softmaker.com/en/softmaker-office

[Edited at 2017-10-05 03:02 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
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Checking the review… Oct 5

CafeTran Training wrote:

When you use an alternative office suite or word processor, you’re bound to experience some loss of formatting in certain documents. I read that SoftMaker scores high on file format compatibility.

http://www.softmaker.com/en/softmaker-office

[Edited at 2017-10-05 03:02 GMT]


…I found out some interesting nuggets of information here: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2419014,00.asp

If I were to use docx and other Office file formats for internal use exclusively, I wouldn't even bother upgrading Office 2007, or I'd just use one of the open source options. However, my experience with some direct clients and other customers has proved time and again that one has to work with the client's native file format in order to keep them happy and coming back for more.


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CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 16:00
C’t 15/2015 Oct 5

SoftMaker Office 2016 überzeugt durch hohe Geschwindigkeit und gute Kompatibilität zu Microsoft Office, wenn es um Alltagsaufgaben geht. Insbesondere die Neuerungen in Plan- Maker mit Pivot-Tabellen machen das Paket für den Einsatz in Firmen interessanter. Durch die Erweiterungen der bedingten For- matierung lassen sich Tabellen mit riesigen Zahlenkolonnen jetzt genauso übersichtlich wie in Excel gestalten.

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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:00
Member
French to English
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Bad experience with OpenOffice Oct 5

Some time back, I decided to move over to OpenOffice, but got masses of complaints from my customers about file incompatibilities once returned, so i had to give up.
In one instance, merely opening a file and closing it again without actually doing anything completely screwed up all the formatting: took me a further 3 hours to manually recreate the document in its original form!

Even on documents with next to no "complex" formatting, I have had problems with silly things like highlighting becoming converted to a hard fill colour that was impossible to remove later....


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Jean Dimitriadis
France
Local time: 16:00
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Alternatives Oct 5

Hello Mario,

LibreOffice is a rich office suite, which uses ODF (Open Document Format) as its native file format.
It can open and save to MS Office formats, although it does not offer full compatibility. As a GNU/Linux user, I use it for most internal purposes, bilingual reviews, previews, CSV editing, standard excel files, word files with low formatting requirements, etc.

I wouldn’t recommend it for fully replacing MS Office though, but it is a nice addition and has merits of its own.

It does not present issues when importing or exporting from CAT tools per se. The trouble is maintaining the original layout and delivering a file formatted exactly as expected by the client when they open it on MS Office. This makes it a no go for many jobs.

Here is a feature comparison between LibreOffice 5 and Microsoft Office 2016, showing supported and unsupported features - https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_LibreOffice_-_Microsoft_Office

Two worthy alternatives (and probably cheaper than MS Office), which in my experience offer a much better compatibility with MS Office files :

- WPS Office - https://www.wps.com/ comes in different editions, Free, Premium, Professional (plus a free Linux version)
- SoftMaker Office 2016 - http://www.softmaker.com/ (as already recommended)

You can try and see for yourself as they have a free version or a free trial.

Jean


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
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Good info Oct 5

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

Hello Mario,

LibreOffice is a rich office suite, which uses ODF (Open Document Format) as its native file format.
It can open and save to MS Office formats, although it does not offer full compatibility. As a GNU/Linux user, I use it for most internal purposes, bilingual reviews, previews, CSV editing, standard excel files, word files with low formatting requirements, etc.

I wouldn’t recommend it for fully replacing MS Office though, but it is a nice addition and has merits of its own.

It does not present issues when importing or exporting from CAT tools per se. The trouble is maintaining the original layout and delivering a file formatted exactly as expected by the client when they open it on MS Office. This makes it a no go for many jobs.

Here is a feature comparison between LibreOffice 5 and Microsoft Office 2016, showing supported and unsupported features - https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_LibreOffice_-_Microsoft_Office

Two worthy alternatives (and probably cheaper than MS Office), which in my experience offer a much better compatibility with MS Office files :

- WPS Office - https://www.wps.com/ comes in different editions, Free, Premium, Professional (plus a free Linux version)
- SoftMaker Office 2016 - http://www.softmaker.com/ (as already recommended)

You can try and see for yourself as they have a free version or a free trial.

Jean


Thanks, Jean. I'll keep an eye on these links for future use.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
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Even between versions of Word Oct 5

In 2016, I had trouble using a different version of my client's MS Office programs. Word didn't present a serious problem, just some slight change in layout from 2007 to 2013. Visio (which is a standalone and expensive program) had some serious incompatibility problems from version 2010 to 2013: some objects changed places or shape, as well as color.

More than ten years ago, I recall asking a group of project managers at a health care insurer to use the same version of Adobe Acrobat (PDF) because different versions from different business units were causing incompatibility problems across the company.

As some of you have pointed out, alternatives do not present a problem with TEnT and CAT tools (import/export) per se, but I would still need the original application to view the resulting file in order to make the requisite layout changes, if any.


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 16:00
English to German
MS Word, the unknown entity Oct 5

For 20+ years MS Word provides options for using older formats.

My Word 2016 offers all versions from Word 95 to Word 2013.

Just see File/Options/Advanced/Compatibility/... (or something like that, I've got no English Word).

Maybe you need to apply a workaround in order to make these options visible:
https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/ie/en-US/8f1e46eb-a1ba-400b-9390-f1ec29bab318/how-to-enable-word-2010-compatibility-in-a-word-2016-doc?forum=Office2016setupdeploy


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
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Formatting problems Oct 5

As others have said, one easily runs into formatting problems in OpenOffice. A document that fits on one page in Word may need two pages in OpenOffice, for example.

I'd rather pay for MS Office and avoid such problems. With the new Office 365, you don't have to pay a large amount in one go, but an ongoing subscription. Included in that, you always get the newest version and MS support (as far as I remember).

MS Office has used docx and xlsx as default formats for many years. MemoQ supports them, but I did have to convert a docx to doc recently for some reason.

I think the main justification for the alternative office suites was to give home users a free alternative, but they can get a free, sponsored and limited version of MS Office now, so why would they use one of the alternatives?

As for professionals, they could save the cost of MS Office, but one can quickly lose the equivalent of that cost, or more, by wasting time on compatibility problems (apply your hourly rate to the time wasted on such problems to see what they cost).

If something doesn’t work, it’s much easier to get support and find a solution for MS Office than for the alternatives.

Just my view.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:00
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Corollary on MS Office 365 Oct 5

Actually, I have access to a group license for MS Office 365 on my MacBook Pro laptop, which works just fine (and it's free because I got it from my university for as long as I'm a student—until 2020).

I couldn't install MS Office 365 on my Windows 7 Pro system for some reason. I need to double check.

UPDATE: I double checked at one of my universities (yes, I have two, ha!) and I am allowed to install Office 365 (32-bit or 64-bit) on my Windows 7 Pro system. Yay!

After confirming with the Microsoft website that I can keep Office 2007 and Office 365 concurrently, I'm in the process of installing the applications. I think I'm allowed to this free subscription for 4 years. Happy camper here.



[Edited at 2017-10-05 21:45 GMT]


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