RTF idea

From: Andrew Dunbar (hippietrail@yahoo.com)
Date: Sat Sep 21 2002 - 02:28:53 EDT

  • Next message: Omer Zak: "Re: RTF idea"

    I've been thinking about the awful situation with RTF
    for a couple of weeks.

    RTF is important because it's the standard interchange
    Almost all word processors can import and export it.
    This is sometimes sufficient reason for us not to
    support the native file format of a program.
    GUI elements support it. The textarea or similar
    control on Windows uses RTF. I'm pretty sure GTK has
    something similar and QT and Mac might.

    RTF is the standard format for formatted text on the
    clipboards of various OSs, window managers, etc.
    Without good RTF clipboard support, the clipboard is
    only useful for plain text.

    But there is a major problem - Nobody supports the
    same RTF.

    RTF is a "standard" but nobody implements the

    MS Word might be considered the "defacto standard" but
    it's different from the true standard in many
    aspects. An RTF importer which supports the standard
    will not import MS Word RTF well.
    AbiWord loads MS Word RTF quite well, missings

    MS WordPad is installed on every Windows machine by
    default and has been for a very long time. It reads
    MS Word .doc files and reads and writes RTF. For
    every Windows machine without MS Word installed, this
    is the standard .doc and RTF software.
    But WordPad's RTF is different to both the standard
    and to Word's RTF.
    AbiWord has signifigant problems, especially with
    lists, both importing and exporting MS WordPad RTF.

    Mac OS X has also embraced RTF. The standard Mac text
    editor has been upgraded from the OS 9 days and now
    supports full Unicode and its default save format is
    But the OS X text editor creates drastically different
    RTF from all of the standard, MS Word, and MS WordPad.
    For rvery Mac with OS X installed, this is the
    editor. The OS X version of RTF has been called
    and I bet it is. Yet MS Word and MS WordPad has no
    problems with any OS X RTF file I can find.
    AbiWord cannot load OS X RTF at all.

    OpenOffice also supports a broken version of RTF.
    At least in this case, being open source, there is
    reasonable hope that it can be fixed if people want it
    We cannot currently load OpenOffice RTF.
    OpenOffice has recently decided to lower the priority
    of RTF support in favour of better Word .doc support.
    This is not going to help document interchange between
    open source word processors, and it's definitely going
    to make clipboard support weaker.

    I don't know the status of RTF with other open source
    editors such as KWord.

    If AbiWord has such problems with all of these very
    common flavours of RTF, what hope do we have importing
    the many various flavours output by minor and exotic
    word processors such as those developed for specific

    What the open source community needs is a standard
    RTF library much like exists for various image file
    formats, and even more like our own Wv.

    Such an RTFlib must be designed with a robust parser
    able to cope with the worst of known RTF attrocities
    and be at least as forgiving as MS Word's RTF
    Its output should be the most useful compromise
    adhering to the standard, and satisfying MS Word.
    AbiWord, OpenOffice, KWord, and whoever else could
    contribute to it instead of duplicating the effort
    by reinventing the wheel each time and risking the
    introduction of one more variety of RTF which only
    works with one or two programs.

    I'd start this immediately myself but as you know I
    have no job, no money, no computer, and no internet
    yet - so I'm probably not the best person.
    But if somebody on this list knows the best ways to
    get the ear of OpenOffice, and which other open source
    projects would benefit from this.
    I guess finding the maintainers of current existing
    RTF importers, exporters, and converters would be a
    good place to start.

    Any ideas?

    Andrew Dunbar.

    http://linguaphile.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/translator.pl http://www.abisource.com

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