Microsoft Publisher converter officially released

Microsoft Publisher converter officially released

In early June we told you about public availability of libmspub — a library for reading Microsoft Publisher files and converting them to OpenDocument and SVG. It's time for an update.

Work on this library, including reverse engineering of PUB files, is a Google Summer of Code 2012 project. Brennan Vincent is the primary developer and GSoC student who is mentored by Fridrich Štrba (LibreOffice) and Valek Filippov (re-lab).

A sample template from stocklayouts.com

Conversion to OpenDocument: a sample template from stocklayouts.com

Now that midterm evaluations in the program are over (more on that soon), the library has seen its first official release, and even an update to it.

What's changed?

Quite a lot has changed in the last 6 weeks. Here's a brief overview:

  • many more shapes supported;
  • master pages;
  • text in shapes, including margins;
  • better support for styles, fills;
  • groups and nested groups;
  • better support for transformations of single objects and groups: rotations, flips.
  • improved reading of images.

There's also partial support for line spacing now, which doesn't always work due to a LibreOffice bug. Here is an excerpt from the example above:

Line spacing bug in LibreOffice

Conversion to OpenDocument: line spacing bug in LibreOffice

There still seems to be a problem with displaying groups of objects. Hopefully the team will get to the bottom of it.

If you want to make sure that your files will be supported well enough, send your documents to the team for testing.

Versions

In terms of features coverage, the v2002 file format loader is still leading. The library can handle 97, 98 and 2000 versions, just with less precision. There's no special reverse-engineering work involved there: it's just quite a bit of boring work to be done.

Valek also had a look at recently released public preview of MS Office 2013, and it seems that the file format is identical to v2010. Hence one could say that libmspub supports Publisher 2013 as well.

Downloading and building

The library will be used in upcoming LibreOffice 3.7. As usual, for now it's recommended to fetch source code from Git and build it. The converter to OpenDocument is only available if you build and install writerperfect from Git.

Here is a familiar instruction:

1. Fetch and build libwpd

$ git clone git://libwpd.git.sourceforge.net/gitroot/libwpd/libwpd
$ cd libwpd
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make && sudo make install

2. Fetch and build libwpg:

$ git clone git://libwpg.git.sourceforge.net/gitroot/libwpg/libwpg
$ cd libwpg
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make && sudo make install

3. Fetch and build libmspub:

$ git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/libreoffice/libmspub
$ cd libmspub
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure --prefix=/usr && make && sudo make install

4. Fetch and build writerperfect:

$ git clone git://libwpd.git.sourceforge.net/gitroot/libwpd/writerperfect
$ cd writerperfect
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make && sudo make install

If you are brave enough to try, let us know how it works for you!

There's still no news from the Scribus team regarding support for Publisher files, but right now they are focusing on getting v1.5 released, so PUB support surely has a much lower priority.

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28 Comments

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  1. error for me…

    checking for WRITERPERFECTCORE… configure: error: Package requirements (
      libwpd-0.9
      libwpd-stream-0.9
    libwpg-0.2
    ) were not met:

    No package ‘libwpg-0.2’ found

    ......
    probably cuz I’m still on ubuntu 10.04

  2. Brennan Vincent 22 July 2012 at 3:51 am

    Colin,

    Are you sure you followed Step 2 and built and installed libwpg ? (Note: despite the similar name, libwpg and libwpd are not the same thing! ;) )

  3. yes, step 2 is where the first error about libwpg-0.2 occurred. It mentioned something about libwpg-1.something so I assumed the version of libwpg in Lucid was just too old for all this to compile properly.

  4. the latest vesrion of libwpg in the git tree is libwpg-0.3 but libmspub requires libwpg-0.2 .

    If you substitute libwpg-0.2 with libwpg-0.3 in the configure.ac , it passes the check but libmspub doesn’t compile due to changes between 0.2 and 0.3 version

  5. i installed it in terminal and it seemd to install corectly but i still am not able to open or convert pub files it could be me but i know not what

  6. Alexandre Prokoudine 18 August 2012 at 11:32 pm

    @smiley What exactly are you trying to do?

  7. I have been using microsoft publisher for 6 years I have hundreds of saved cards banners business cards excetera and I don’t want to have to redesign 100 upon hundreds of different designs so I want to convert or open those files they are .pub

  8. Brennan Vincent 19 August 2012 at 2:02 am

    @smiley you will need not just libmspub installed, but also a recent prerelease version of LibreOffice from the git repository. Make sure you use the—with-system-libmspub when compiling LibreOffice for best results.

    If you’ve never compiled LibreOffice before, be warned that it takes a huge amount of time and disk space, and even more on Windows. So you may be best served waiting for a version with .pub support to be released, which should happen early 2013. Cheers!

  9. Alexandre Prokoudine 19 August 2012 at 4:46 am

    @smiley Well, if you installed writerperfect, you should have a console utility called pub2odg that will convert a PUB file to an OpenDocument file that you can open with LibreOffice Draw. You absolutely don’t need LibreOffice from Git for it, contrary to what Brennan says :)

    After that it’s just a matter of running

    $ pub2odg /path/to/your_pub_file /path/to/your_odg_file

    to convert.

    I think it’s entirely possible to write a simple shell script that will do batch conversion.

  10. Brennan Vincent 19 August 2012 at 4:51 am

    @Alexandre indeed… I was talking about opening .pub files in LibreOffice. But I guess this works just as well :) I can’t believe how to use the software I made slipped my mind…

  11. Thank you i will try that but i still want libmspub when it comes out

    i am linux all the way now NO more windows

    Thank you have a great day

  12. Used it successfully on Arch, very impressive :-)

    Small issue with a text box being too wide (easy just to drag it back), but other than that the results were perfect :-D

    Cheers for all your hard work :-)

  13. We have been using the publisher for about a year or two. We are going to wait for this one because as everybody knows new programs bring new problems. Thanks for the post.

  14. I agree with smiley, linux is the way to go. Windows has dominated the comp industry for too long. They had better business models for the short run, but apple and linux have better products

  15. Yeah, each and every electronic gadget needs cool and dust free environment because heat and dust can damage your system and also your data.

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  17. Converting documents never been so easy. This tool has made it easy.

  18. I have downloaded and installed by the instructions the updated libmspub library.
    I mus say that the support for text in shapes and margins makes a real difference - that why I decide to give up the previous version;
    Also the software is much more reliable now,
    As summary, a very important update.

  19. I love this new Publisher, its just so user friendly, easy to use, more than I could ever want!

  20. The big question is, do print shops accept the output files from this for a print job. Today I just send in the .pub file and all is good.

    Are print shops embracing this?

  21. Alexandre Prokoudine 10 May 2013 at 4:31 pm

    @Bruce, sorry, I don’t get it. Are print shops embracing what exactly?

  22. Cool - this tool is making doc conversion so much easier for us.

  23. So - NOW I find this!  Just converted office over to Macs!

  24. in step one the third line I’m getting “aclocal not found” that’s new one to me, any idea?

  25. Microsoft is really in trouble, it is paying Employees to start at Microsoft after CEO Steve Ballmer departures http://www.amongtech.com/microsoft-pays-workers-to-stay-after-the-departure-of-steve-ballmer/

  26. Hi, nice share.
    is that converter only working for microsoft publisher ?

  27. Thanks for sharing this information its really helpful.

  28. Definitely not the most popular text format nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I made something using Microsoft Publisher, I’d rather use more professional packages.

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