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Did you know ODT is basically the same as Epub?

I just came across a rather neat little trick over on MobileRead. It turns out that the ODT file format (used by Open Office) is virtually identical very similar to an Epub file. No, seriously, it is. Change the suffix of an ODT file to ZIP and you can open it like any other ZIP file. If you look inside you'll see most of the components of an Epub.

It's missing parts and for obvious reasons it doesn't validate. But I was able read the Epub file in NookStudy (without difficulty). I then tried to fix the problems with Sigil, the Epub editor. Unfortunately Sigil couldn't load it. I don't blame it; this is a kludgy way of making an Epub.

This might not amount to much more than a trick, but I think it's shiny. But given that there's an Epub maker plug-in for Open Office, it really only is a trick. It's not really good for much. You need OO to make an ODT file, and with the plug-in you might as well make a valid Epub.

5 Comments on Did you know ODT is basically the same as Epub?

  1. It’s not virtually identical. Yes, both are zip files which makes sense because they are collections of information and zipping them reduces the amount of storage needed. They both have a mimetype file which is not essential for the content, but only so that external programs can recognize what type of file it is. For the rest there is hardly anything they have in common.

  2. Mrawhimskell klaar // 2 February, 2011 at 10:16 pm //

    True, and let’s not forget .cbr files are also zip files with a different mimetype. gotta love open formats though. makes life very easy.

  3. Actually, CBZ are ZIP files. CBR are RAR files.

  4. On Mobileread it was mentioned that Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) could open an ODT file if it was renamed to EPUB. Actually it appears that you can just open the ODT file with ‘Open with…’ without renaming it. Renaming pnly makes ADE the default application for opening the file.

    Apparently ADE has support for ODT files. It is not automatic because ODT is aufficiently different that the EPUB code would not be able to read ODT. This must have been a conscious decision by Adobe and I find it strange that they don’t mention that fact.

    On the other hand, once you have an Epub reader software, it is not too hard to add support for ODT, as the XML that contains the ODT contents has sufficient similarities to XHTML which is the content format for ePub. You would only have to write a new parser, and use the same display engine.

  5. Thank you for the information. Especially about the Epub maker plug-in. Very interested and going to try that now.

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