MobileInfocenter

An Interview with Michael Compeau from Cutting Edge Software

Cutting Edge Software is the developer of the Quickoffice suite of office applications. In this interview, Michael Compeau, the company's Vice President of Business Development and Planning, talks about how Palm OS 5 will affect Quickoffice, whether a PowerPoint-compatible app will be added to the suite, the possibilities of a Pocket PC version, and much more.

An Interview with Michael Compeau from Cutting Edge Software

By Ed Hardy
News Editor

Cutting Edge Software created some of the very first commercial applications for the Palm platform. In January 1997, it released Quicksheet, the first fully functional spreadsheet application for the Palm OS. Since then, Quicksheet has been joined by Quickword and Quickchart to become Quickoffice, Cutting Edge's suite of office applications.

Michael Compeau is the company's Vice President of Business Development and Planning.

Palm Infocenter: With Palm OS 5 imminent and OS 6 on the horizon, many people are concentrating on what these new operating systems will do for multimedia and gaming applications. Cutting Edge makes a suite of office applications. What improvements will the new operating systems bring to Quickoffice?

Michael Compeau: Yes, the sexiest features in OS5 do seem to relate to the more visible gaming and multimedia capabilities of OS5, but there's a lot to like under the hood as well, from our perspective. For example, we're pleased to see the coming capabilities for VPN support and other secure means of making connections to business servers, due to our solid focus on solutions for mobile business professionals. We have been busy with a number of projects & enhancements that will take full advantage of the unique new possibilities to come.

PIC: Have you ever considered directly supporting Microsoft Office file formats in Quickoffice?

Compeau: <laughs> Sure, and then we woke up from that one... <grin> Seriously, since Microsoft decided to make their binary file formats proprietary (after Office97), and will most certainly change and evolve them as they move into the .Net era, the task is likely to not only be enormous at the outset, but represent a continuing challenge to offer support as MS Office is upgraded in future. Support of these files is probably not practical. This just isn't a real possibility today.

PIC: Any plans to add a PowerPoint-compatible application to Quickoffice?

Compeau: Well, we don't comment on unreleased products, but we've said in the past that we will not release a solution until we can provide true functionality that solves real problems for business professionals. Recently in our announcement related to the acquisition of Cutting Edge Software by Mobility Electronics, it was announced that our mobile software solutions would be made available with the new Pitch for Palm presentation tool being developed by Mobility. You might conjecture that something like that is in the works i suppose...<grin>

PIC: Yes, Cutting Edge Software was very recently purchased by Mobility Electronics. Will this bring any major changes to the company? ...Do you expect it will have any effects that users of your products will care about? Faster development times, money to develop new types of apps, that sort of thing?

Compeau: We're very excited to be joining the Mobility Electronics family of companies. They share our passion for solutions that help mobile professionals get real work done, and they are a great bunch to be working with. Sure, we'll have more "resources" to apply to our mission, but that mission doesn't change at all--we're still focused on creating powerful software that give today's mobile workers the edge. We've always tried to lead the market with solutions that predict where things are headed, and we'll be continuing to do that.

PIC: Does it make you nervous that both Palm and Sony bundle Documents to Go, a rival office suite, with many of their handhelds?

Compeau: Palm and Sony can put what they like in the box. The folks who use their handheld the most are our target customers; and, for years now, those customers have been seeking us out for the increased capabilities, stable reliable performance, as well as the broad range of available enterprise-capable solutions built on our Quickoffice Platform. It's really unique in the handheld industry, and though we don't crow about it a lot to individual users, it's been a real differentiating factor for our enterprise/corporate customers. That's the difference of conceiving a solution as a platform rather than just an 'app in the box.'

PIC: One of the major complaints for Pocket PC users is that there is no serious competitor for Pocket Word, which is made by Microsoft and comes bundled with the handhelds. Has Cutting Edge ever considered making a Pocket PC version of Quickoffice?

Compeau: Sure! <grin> Right up until the release of the PocketPC version of Windows CE, we considered it a fair amount! We continue to watch that market and scan our opportunities on other platforms. For now, there is no question that the largest opportunity is right on the platform where we are delivering solutions: the Palm OS.

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No reading of native file formats?

mtg101 @ 9/4/2002 11:58:17 AM #
Not being able to simple open a Word doc that's been sent as an email attachment or that's stored on a memory card really annoys me with all these M$ Office compatible Palm apps.

I generally simply want to read the document from the Palm. As I have to convert the doc anyway, I may as well convert it to iSilo / PalmReader or whatever format (that I already use) rather than shell out for more software.

Now if I could just dump .doc the files onto my memory card, or view as an attachment from an email these apps would have something to sell me.

Obvsiouly for people who want to edit word files regularly on their PDA (people without laptops I call them :) then there's an obvious benefit. But for me... I'm going to have to wait...

---
russ@russb.fsnet.co.uk

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 1:04:20 PM #
As was already said in the article, the MS formats are proprietary. The best thing for everyone would be a serious boycott of the MS formats, and move to something open and probably XML based. See openoffice.org for one possibility. Otherwise, you're going to be waiting for MS to release a PocketOffice for Palm (to appear shortly after they give up on PocketPC), or for some third-party developer to hack a solution (that will never properly support the format and fail when Office 2003 appears).
RE: No reading of native file formats?
kozmo @ 9/4/2002 1:11:19 PM #
I was hoping for support for html files... I would like to be able to open a html file saved on my memory card and edit it in quickword... that shouldn't be too hard to realize, since they already do all their quickword formating in html language. When will it happen. That would eliminite the need for conduit, at least in my case :)

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 1:22:11 PM #
The problem with HTML is: what would you edit it with on the PC? The underlying HTML that is put out by a program like MS Word is garbage. Of course we all know people would want to use it with MS Word.
RE: No reading of native file formats?
N473 @ 9/4/2002 1:22:59 PM #
No excuse. Pick at least one PC format to support, RTF for example. All word processors can produce RTF. You can ask people to send docs to you in that format. RTF is open. As far as spreadsheets, I have no research to back this up, but excel can save as a lot of different formats. Surely one of them is open, but more usable than CSV. Saying Office 2000/XP has proprietary formats, and we are therefore not supporting them is a half truth: okay, so don't support them. There are others!

Cheers!
N473
RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 1:23:20 PM #
It is funny that a majority of Word documents could easily be made as .txt or .rtf but people are so brainwashed into thinking you have to use M$ Word on everything. I personally have wiped out all M$ from my home. If I can't open it with appleworks then it's not worth reading. There is also not a QuickOffice for OS X, or a DTG for that matter. So I use a little freeware app called NoteTaker that lets me either write text documents and read/edit them on my Palm or Vice Versa. Now if a little freeware maker could come up with that why the hell couldn't Palm?
RE: No reading of native file formats?
kozmo @ 9/4/2002 1:41:57 PM #
I am not talking about html format because I would like to open such documents in MS Word... No. A lot of my documents are in native html format (hmtl 3.2 standard) and that's all that I need... I'm not using MS Word at all. Just add an option to save source of the QuickWord document (that is html code) to the memory card... How hard can it be to accomplish this? I think a lot of users would appreciate this.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 2:00:32 PM #
Try BEAMING an HTML file to your Palm from your laptop. It is immediately viewable and editable in Quickword! e.g., CES already offers native file support for HTML. I haven't tried this from an SD card, since my laptop doesn't have an SD reader.
Somebody try and tell me...
RE: No reading of native file formats?
kozmo @ 9/4/2002 2:06:48 PM #
I do not have a laptop - a have a palm ;)

open html, edit it, save it back on palm's memory card. This is all that I'm asking for... and I am sure it's doable.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 4:51:43 PM #
> I personally have wiped out all M$ from my home.
> If I can't open it with appleworks then it's not
> worth reading.

So you measure the quality of information by the tool you can read it with? Interesting point of view. Complete nonsense of course, but interesting.

Also, don't you think we've seen enough of those prepubescent Microsoft trademark spoofs like M$ and Windoze? Or should we start referring to your appleworks as potatoworks from now on? Gee, that one really kills me. Yawn.

Grow a brain and then come back.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 5:32:09 PM #
I like potatoes; they are apples of the ground: pommes de terre....mmm potatoes...
RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 6:54:08 PM #
>> I personally have wiped out all M$ from my home.
>> If I can't open it with appleworks then it's not
>> worth reading.
>
>So you measure the quality of information by the tool
>you can read it with? Interesting point of view.
>Complete nonsense of course, but interesting.

[not the original author]

Actually the quality of information is directly related to the tool used to access it. If you encrypt information then the usefulness of it to me declines, it is only useful if I can read it and it is useful to more people if more tools/people can read it.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 6:59:43 PM #
>I like potatoes; they are apples of the ground: pommes de terre....mmm potatoes...

...mmm Erdäpfeln

RE: No reading of native file formats?
big_raji @ 9/4/2002 8:47:09 PM #
Back on topic... :P

> Not being able to simple open a Word doc that's been
> sent as an email attachment or that's stored on a
> memory card really annoys me with all these M$
> Office compatible Palm apps.

I've been reading Word e-mail attachments for years on my Palm. I use MultiMail, and I use the Word .DOC plugin. It opens the DOC file as plain text in its own window. I copy that plain text, and paste it into Quickword if I want to edit it to print out at home later from Word.

Voila.

It's not a perfect process, but it's far from difficult.


---
What's Wrong With This Picture?
http://raj.phangureh.com/picture.html

RE: No reading of native file formats?
iebnn @ 9/4/2002 8:57:10 PM #
Anonymous person: Take a look at my product, PHTML (look on PalmGear.) It can edit HTML documents.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 10:48:03 PM #
> Take a look at my product, PHTML (look on PalmGear.)

Does this program even let you edit files on card? It is very vague from the feature list if that is even possible.

I'm not the original person asking for HTML editing support, but I sure would like to see it in QuickOffice. In the PHTML case, editing using tags isn't really what I want, and there isn't any hi-res support. All this app appears to be from the screenshot is MemoPad with some shortcuts to enter tags.

BTW, in my opinion, bundling somebody else's freeware app with your $18 app and not even telling the freeware author about it is extremely rude.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
kozmo @ 9/5/2002 2:00:06 AM #
The reason I would like to have a native html support in QuickWord is, because that way there would be no need to use conduit to use such documents on my PC, send via e-mail from my palm... upload via ftp etc... right now the QuickOffice document made on palm are useless for me, since I can not share it without using either conduit or some server side solutions... It would be very easy to implement this feature: saving ordinary text (that is html) to palm's memory card.

can CesInc (or mobility?) people respond to this request, please?

Hmmmm... Not very logic (IMHO)...
Lock @ 9/5/2002 5:16:49 AM #
They say that .DOC is a "proprietary formats" and cannot be opened or it changes so quickly that bla..bla...bla... ? Ok but, if you write a conduit, then you've to manage that format and, if it changes, you've to change the conduit as well...
So, why don't use a .DOC pluging? If the format changes you recompile the plugin but I'm free to open every doc file from my palm...
I see it simple, IMHO naturally... :]

RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/5/2002 8:14:30 AM #
About the Multimail .DOC pulgin, were can I fid it?
RE: No reading of native file formats?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/5/2002 9:09:16 AM #
> saving ordinary text (that is html) to palm's memory card.

There is an app called CF2DOC that converts back and forth from DOC format on the Palm to text files on card.

http://www.total.net/~hkonstas/cf2doc.html

It is extra effort, but you can then export to doc from Quickword and then convert to a text file on card using CF2DOC. In reverse, you can convert from a text file on card to doc on the Palm and then import the doc in Quickword. Unfortunately, in my experience CF2DOC was a little buggy and seemed to lose a character here and there. It will do what you want though, if you don't mind losing the fonts/styles/formatting in the conversions.

RE: No reading of native file formats?
kozmo @ 9/5/2002 9:37:31 AM #
Thanks, I already know about CF2DOC... right now this is the only way to do text processing on memory card... I do not know why they don't build such a feature into QuickWord thoug... Usually I turn on display HTML code in QW and than copy the source into a new document which I then save as palm doc... Then I convert it using CF2DOC... easy, huh? :) NOW, PLEASE, update QuickWord with such a capability!!! please? :)

Macintosh support?

Xian @ 9/4/2002 12:48:20 PM #
I'd really love it if they came out with a version that supports Office x.V on the Mac.

RE: Macintosh support?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/4/2002 2:00:51 PM #
Office v.X
RE: Macintosh support?
Xian @ 9/4/2002 6:22:38 PM #
Pardon my typo :)

RE: Macintosh support?
james_sorenson @ 9/5/2002 1:53:11 AM #
I already emailed them about this. It is actively under development. Don't worry, they haven't forgotten us!


-------
James Sorenson

RE: Macintosh support?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/5/2002 2:35:10 AM #
I also used Multimail with the .doc plugin. Unfortunately the latest versions of Multimail SE, which are now sold with the new Palm models, do no more support these plug-ins...

And the original Multimail Professional will not install on my m130 ...

Michael


P.S. Erdäpfeln is wrong: it is Erdäpfel
der Apfel (singular), die Äpfel (plural).
Amd yes, anything not to be opended with Appleworks and MacLinkPlus is not worth reading ;-)

Pardon my Ignorance

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/5/2002 2:20:56 AM #
Pardon my ignorance, but what is "binary file formats proprietary?"
RE: Pardon my Ignorance
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/5/2002 3:47:33 AM #
It means that apparently the way Microsoft stores all the information in Word XP and Excel XP files is not revealed or "open" to other developers so they can create more interoperable solutions (the binary file formats held on the PC are "proprietary"). It means folks like openoffice.org have to have folks "hacking" the formats to get their code to work with Microsoft Office.
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