I'm pretty amazed that, today, in 2009, in the XXIth century, 40 years after a man has landed on the moon, people are still using Office documents to write documentations, follow task, all sort of thing. I'm a developer and I work with computer literate people who should know better. Is it unconscious incompetence or is it me? (it's not me, I'm just making a point ;))

There is the main reason why office documents are broken by design:

  • Text informations are not saved in plain text, (tip 20 of the pragmatic programmer guide: keep your knowledge in plain text)

    • if the file are corupted you probably lost everything instead of just the corrupted part.

    • two versions of the same document are nearly impossible to merge.

    • it's hard to search informations, if you don't already know were the informations is.

  • I think they induce  duplication: many documents have the same informations, sended through email, stored on local hard drives,... You spend lots and lots time manually synchronizing documents Most of the time you end up with X documents with errors or omissions, and worth, even if they all are up to date, you never can be 100% sure that they are.

  • It's very easy to loose all your work, making every error a big risk, increasing stress.

  • They don't respect the MVC design pattern, meaning you spend time on presentation instead on working on content. And I think that when you write a professionnal docunent you should worry about the presentation layer, it should have been taken care long before by somebody else.

  • Some easy task, can become unnecessary difficult. (try a cut/paste in an excel file.)

Most of the time, the use of office document is the result of intellectual lazyness, resulting in more work in the end. I am a true lazy person, as any developer should be!

There is lots of alternatives, more professional, more reliable, simply better (wikis, issues trackers, ...) exist, we should use it. I kind of feeling sorry for the guys working on OpenOffice, most of them think they provide a usefull alternative to the big Microsoft Office suite, but they just reproduce a broken design. There probably is some use for this kind of software, but I'm sure they shouldn't be used so much.

So, what the fuck guys! Wake up! we are in the XXIth century, it's time to live with our time. Figure it out already. :D