ODF in Firefox

A mysterious person known only as “Talin” posted recently in the newsgroups saying he had started an extension to allow Open Document Format (ODF) files to be viewed natively in Firefox without the need for a plugin. Apparently, the ODF XML format together with its CSS-like style information is reasonably easy for Firefox to render, given some help.

I think this is a really cool demonstration of the power of free software and open standards, and would, practically speaking, be a really useful addon. In fact, if the code wasn’t too complex and large, why couldn’t we include it in Firefox by default? That would certainly accelerate the adoption of ODF.

He didn’t have time to develop it further, and neither do I. He was kind enough to send me the code, so if anyone else thinks this is a cool idea and would like to take it further, get in touch and I’ll pass it on :-)

14 thoughts on “ODF in Firefox

  1. Ok Wise guy!!

    If you can display ODF XML, u can display my XML…now where’s that #@!887$$ chair???

  2. I don’t think including it by default is a great idea (because it’ll override the OpenOffice plugin) but making it accessable by PFS like the Flash player would be excellent.

    Of course ideally this goes in at the same level as FeedView should, down in the parser, so this would be another persuasive reason to keep working on that.

    – Chris

  3. If Firefox can handle it natively, I’d certainly disable OOo 2’s plugin as native rendering would definitively faster than that of plugin.

  4. Gerv, I sent you a mail about this, please let me know if you don’t get it :o)

    I think this could be really important, because there are likely many, many people out there using Firefox who don’t have OpenOffice.org: they might be OpenDocument users (e.g., Abi or KOffice users), or just don’t have access to any software like that. Having a lightweight viewer available is really useful in that scenario.

    Imagine if you’re a website owner. Acrobat Reader 7 is like 20Mb. I bet a XSLT-based ODF xpi could be less than a megabyte. Given the choice, the xpi could be the better experience (quicker download, etc.).

  5. I’d love to see ODF supported in Firefox, maybe by extension first, then later by default (it is a standard after all…)

    I don’t know, but I imagine it’s not impossible, given ODF’s XML roots.

  6. Bugs 114376 and 194351 on it already. Back where I do my real job, this would be considered a killer feature, so please go vote for them.

  7. Those bugs also envisage the possible support of other XML standards, including WML and (gasp) MS Office XML.

    This really is killer functionality to have!

  8. If Firefox can handle it natively, I’d certainly disable OOo 2’s plugin as native rendering would definitively faster than that of plugin.

    *You* might, but currently the huge majority of people forced to open Office documents in their browser are doing so because they need to for work. Seeing as they’re not going to be able to edit anything with a plugin which is little more than an XSL transform, this isn’t greatly useful to them.

    (that said, Word Viewer 2003 is eleven megabytes. That’s ridiculous.)

    – Chris

  9. I’d definitely like to see this feature, even if only as an extension. I would like to be able to open the files in OpenOffice.org 2 if possible too, perhaps through an edit button, but most of the time I just want to preview the files so something like this would be very useful. Especially on OS X where OpenOffice.org isn’t very well developed.

    It would also let IBM OS/2 users view ODF files :)

  10. autonome: I emailed the code to everyone who has expressed an interest. A few people have been working on it, but it doesn’t have a home yet. Email me your email address and I’ll connect you with the right people. Same goes for anyone else interested.