File Format Hell

I’ve had a long journey with text file formats.

First there was… uh… whatever MS works saves files as. That was back in the Windows 3.1 era. That sucked. Then we went to Word… MS Word, and MS Word would not open MS Works files. Go figure. So there was the lovely time of opening files, ripping text from 50 pages of bad binary translation and putting them in Word.

Ok, so after Word I found Wordperfect. No, not that crappy blue screen one either, I found the joy, the wonder, the amazement of Wordperfect 8. To this day, it brings a tear to my eyes. Wordperfect opens Word, great! Absolutely nothing opens Wordperfect except, Wordperfect. Not so great.

Then later I got a copy of Lotus Smart Suite. LWP files baby. Used that for a while, mainly because of Approach. Office 2000 came out, tried that (yet again MS changes Word file formats. Meanwhile WPD files can be opened by any version of Wordperfect after 6…)

Then on to WordPerfect 9. oh, how I miss thee.

There was even some StarOffice in there, and OO.o version, uh… something. (did they do an 0.9 release? Maybe it was just 1.0.. )

Ok, then I go to a Mac.

So after much crying and pouting and general sleepless nights I get MS Office. Thank the Gods that MS Office for the Mac opens MS Office for Windows files. (Yes I was worried, don’t you remember Word 6 -> Word 95 issues? But they are the same… NO THEY ARE NOT!)


Yup, what the hell do I do with SWF, LWP, WPD, WKS (i think) various Quattro Pro and 1-2-3 files (we don’t even think about databases, we learned that lesson from Access 2000)??

Well, again, there was crying and screaming.

Out comes NeoOffice ( for the Mac). With it comes along ODT. Sounds great, sounds wonderful, sounds like another file format… And I realized that for 99% of my stuff i don’t need all that crap. (it is really just crap) What I need has been in front of me the whole time.


So that is my new fixation, moving everything to RTF.

Now now, you wait, Mr ODT, I ain’t saying nothing bad about you. In a way you are the next hope, possibly the next RTF. As an open standard there is hope that ODT will find itself on any platform out there. That would rock. Then you could get all the crap in there too. (and spreadsheets would be nice, I like spreadsheets.)

But for now, RTF (and even maybe TXT as back-ups) will do just fine. The goal is the future. A future where I don’t have to find a PC to install Lotus on to get a file that I swore I had backed up somewhere else in WPD format which Neo opens now, but I didn’t so NOW I gotta find a find one.

And do you know how hard it is to find a PC in a Mac house? Sheesh.