Open Text content viewing tools support new file formats

Waterloo, Ont.-based enterprise content management technology vendor Open Text Corp. continues to enhance content viewing products inherited from Spicer Corp., the Kitchener, Ont.-based company it purchased last summer, with support for new file formats.

The new versions of Open Text Desktop Viewer and Open Text Thin Client Viewer (formerly Imagenation and ViewCafe) support a number of new file formats including Microsoft Excel 2007, Solidworks 2008, AutoCAD 2009 and Auto Desk Inventor 2009.

The content viewing tools address both typical office and engineering applications, said Patrick Pidduck, director of product management with Open Text Corp., and “this particular release has file format enhancements to improve our positioning in both of those areas.”

The latest versions are “what might be termed a business as usual” when it comes to content viewing technology and continued support for whatever is the “latest and greatest and most modern file formats,” said Pidduck. And while ultimately, Open Text does strive to woo new users and make its products more attractive in new market segments, this announcement, he said, is more to do with “staying the course” and continuing to offer file format support as new ones emerge.

Open Text, last July, acquired the document viewing technology vendor whose products catered primarily to asset-intensive and engineering organizations.

George Goodall, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said that while the business of content viewing software hasn’t changed all that much except to present cleaner interfaces and expanded support of formats, there is a “ping pong” effect that happens in content management. By that, Goodall means, at times, the ball bounces to the IT department where there is a push to design tools to help centralize content. At other times, the ball bounces back to the user in support of their workflows and other tasks.

“[This announcement] is really just an example of that ball bouncing back towards the user,” he said.

Overall, said Goodall, the enhancements are revolutionary, rather than evolutionary, because as formats change, so must the support for them.

Following the acquisition, Spicer was renamed Open Text Content Viewer Solutions Group, under which the company has continued to offer standalone content viewing technologies. But while it continues that route, Open Text also said it would eventually integrate those capabilities into its ECM suite.

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While that integration is definitely in the pipeline, Pidduck said the company can’t yet share a roadmap of how and when that will transpire. “We are well down the path of getting the T’s crossed and I’s dotted but not ready for public distribution,” he said.

Pidduck said although there will be much tighter integration between content viewing products and ECM systems, “at the same time, we also continue to develop and support our legacy of ECM and document management partners that we acquired with Spicer.”

Goodall thinks there’s “a tremendous synergy” in the integration of content viewing technologies into Open Text’s ECM suite, and “really, when you look at the process of selling content management software, there is a real strong value proposition for enterprises to avoid additional expenditures for additional licenses.”

Especially in times of constrained IT budgets, Goodall said it’s useful to be able to discern the needs of different roles like authors, reviewers or drafters who require full licences to do their jobs, but “the engineers checking the calculations, do they really need a full licence? Probably not.”

“The market for these types of viewers is very strong and it’s a really strong selling proposition for content management in general,” said Goodall.

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