and Microsoft have both released toolkits for developing applications around for their rival productivity suites and document formats.

Rival software makers Microsoft and both released tools for building applications in their competing document file formats and productivity suites.'s toolkit allows developers to add the ability to save documents in Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) to a variety of applications.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's kits help companies build applications for its Office 2007 productivity suite, which is based on Open XML, ODF's rival file format. Office 2007 is available to business customers and will be in wide consumer release on 30 January.

The ODF Toolkit Project has published an initial version of its toolkit online and is inviting members of the community to add to its development, said Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager for

Previously, developers would have to add "a good piece of" code to an application to give it the ability to save documents in ODF, Suarez-Potts said. The creation of the ODF Toolkit makes this easier, he said.

For example, "if someone has a mail application, they can take the tools we're making available and make it so mail messages can be saved as ODF," Suarez-Potts said.

However, email is just one of many applications for which the toolkit can create the option to save files as ODF, he said. Because ODF is "a flexible file format," any application for which someone creates content can include the option to save files in this way, Suarez-Potts said.

Microsoft's toolkits for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the Microsoft Office Project 2007 provide technical guidance and sample code so developers can build what Microsoft is calling Office Business Applications.

The vendor hopes these applications will allow employees to access information from back-end systems through the new Office user interface (UI), which it has named Microsoft Office Fluent. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced the name of the Office 2007 UI for the first time and said it will licence Fluent royalty-free so developers can build new applications that look like those in the suite.

In addition to the toolkits, Microsoft also announced that it will have a new portal on Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) to focus on development around Groove, a P-to-P (peer-to-peer) application it acquired when it bought Groove Networks.

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) recently approved ODF as an international standard for document file formats. It is supported by companies such as IBM and Sun, which markets its own version of called StarOffice. Microsoft's Open XML, on the other hand, recently won approval by ECMA International as a standard, but the ISO has not approved it yet.