View Office documents in Open Wonderland

September 12, 2011

One of the great features of Open Wonderland is its application-sharing facility. And one of the benefits this provides is the ability to use OpenOffice in-world to create and edit documents that are compatible with Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite.

But what if you just want to show a document in-world without the overhead of application-sharing? Or, what if you’re running your Open Wonderland server on a host, like Windows, that doesn’t provide application sharing?

Well, the long answer is to open your document, save it (or print it) to a PDF, and then drag-and-drop the PDF document into your Open Wonderland client. For the +Spaces project we needed something easier; something that would enable users to easily share their documents with other users in the context of a debate about policy proposals.

A new module in the Open Wonderland Module Warehouse streamlines this process by allowing you to drag-and-drop any text document, spreadsheet or presentation supported by OpenOffice (in addition to its own file formats, of course). The office-converter module relies on a little advertised feature of OpenOffice: its ability to run in headless server mode. The module bundles the open source JODConverter software to provide a web-based API to OpenOffice and adds the necessary hooks into the Open Wonderland client and server so that it all works seamlessly.

In the movie below, I demonstrate how to drag-and-drop common Microsoft Office documents into a wonderland client.

And here, an interesting use case that extends the functionality of the office converter by combining it with the PDFSpreader module.


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