Subject: Sharing word processor docs with windows users
To: None <>
From: Peter Bex <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 04/27/2004 14:19:00
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Hello there,

I apologise in advance if this question has been asked here before, but I
couldn't find anything substantial using google.

For university, I have to do quite some group-work.  For this, it is often
necessary to share documents on which everyone can work for a bit and pass
it on.

I always get lots of heat from Windows users who say stuff like ``I should
keep up with times [sic] and just install Windows/MS Office'' because I can=
read Word .doc documents.
Someone already stated they never ever want to work with me again just
because I'm such a pain in the behind when it comes to principles. ;)

I've tried several things, but they all aren't real solutions:
- Create PDF with LaTeX and ask Windows users to install PDF Creator.
   Works perfectly for one-way communication, but when changes are required
   from the other party, this simply doesn't work.
- Ask other users to learn LaTeX.  Get real, this is too much to ask for the
   puny brain of the average Windows user ;)
- Ask other users to learn HTML.  Same as the above, plus that HTML isn't
   really good on paper.  (using generated HTML isn't really an option since
   that stuff tends to be unreadable)
- Use RTF (which, stop the presses, is an open format by Microsoft).
   I've installed pkgsrc/editors/Ted which uses RTF.  It's almost a
   solution, but there are problems:
     1) Ted sucks when you want to do something more than trivial.
	 There's no undo functionality, its table drawing functionality
	 is horribly primitive etc.
     2) RTFs with embedded images tend to be huge.  I guess it stores a
	 textual representation of the image.
     3) Tables in RTF turn out just a bit differently when viewed by MS Wor=
	 producing lots of irritations (where the blame is never placed
	 on MS Word, obviously).
- Use plaintext and add markup just before printing the final version.
   Not very comfortable, tables are a bitch to convert and this way I'm just
   confirming the idea that Unix (or NetBSD) is old-fashioned and only for
   stubborn people.  And that's always a Bad Thing(TM) to have people think.

My question is this: What do you guys use to communicate in the harsh
reality where Windows & MS Office are the common thing?

I'd prefer not to use any MS .doc format at all.  It would just help keep
the status quo.  There has to be a real open alternative, no?

Do I really have to give in and install KDE/K Office and all bloat that com=
with it and confirm the prevailing idea that MS Office is the only thing and
the best thing around?  (I don't know of any other good, stable editor for
MS Word documents.  Abiword was very bad in my experience and Star Office is
just as big & bad as K Office)

And no, I'm not even remotely considering installing Windows + Office ;)

"The process of preparing programs for a digital computer
 is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically
 and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic
 experience much like composing poetry or music."
							-- Donald Knuth

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