Monday, September 11, 2006

XML and Office 12

There's a lot starting to be written about the new Office 12 or Office 2007 and the Open XML Formats for file structures.
Basically there is a completely different approach to file types.
(For the technical minded they have changed from a binary to an XML format.)

For everybody else think of a Zip File - now think of that as a container and inside that container are a number of other files - each one is an element of the main file. There is formatting, header, authoring information etc. There is the text and data, there are images and embedded objects. Each of these can be manipulated and edited from outside the application it is normally viewed in.

So think of opening the text element from a word doc in a text pad, editing it, and then reopening the word doc with all your formatting applied and the text edits are all there. Very handy if you need to use a computer without Office 2007 on it.

Think about editing the header information and changing your company details or logo. Then think of applying these changes to all the word docs on your system - without having to open one of them! Thats the sort of benefits you can expect to see from this new format.

Of course the application can create and edit backward compatabile versions, and can even be set to default to those versions.
Viewers will be available from Microsoft for free that will enable those without Office 2007 to open and view documents.

For a primer in starting to read about how the Open XML format works start with these web resources
Brian Jones Blog
MSDN Articles on Open XML and Related Topics
MSDN - Introducing the Office (2007) Open XML File Formats