David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small.  

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  • Office from the past, ODF and OOXML (Office of today and tomorrow) and why is organic growth nearly always bad for software and why re-writing is not good either

    As I have said many times in the past I used to write document conversation tools. I believe this gives me a valid reason to be able to pass comment on the ODF/OOMXL debate that is raging at the moment. If these types of questions interest you, have a look at the book I talk about later ( In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters (UK) or here for US link ) Lets start with some history about the Office 97-2003 file formats. Joel was writing about this today ( Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) - Joel on Software ). Note that part of what he has commented on is the fact that the documentation for the binary file format is now available from Microsoft: Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds) This item ran on the Joel on Software homepage on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 Last week, Microsoft published the binary file formats for Office . These formats appear to be almost completely insane. The Excel 97...
  • Independent study advises IT planners to go OOXML

    I'm not feeling my best, so no comments, but below was an article I found very interesing: Independent study advises IT planners to go OOXML Posted by Mary Jo Foley @ 6:41 am Market researchers with the Burton Group have issued a 37-page study– not commissioned by Microsoft or any other tech vendor — that finds Microsoft’s OOXML document format to be more useful than the rival ODF format backed by Microsoft’s competitors. The new study, freely downloadable (in exchange for registration) from Burton’s Web site is entitled “What’s Up, .DOC? ODF, OOXML, and the Revolutionary Implications of XML in Productivity Applications.” Office Open XML (OOXML) is Microsoft’s XML file format that it made the default in its Office 2007 suite. Open Document Format(ODF) is the file format championed by Sun Microsystems, IBM, Google and other Microsoft competitors. Microsoft is seeking ISO standards approval for OOXML, largely to appease customers who prefer/require standards-compliant products, as well as to head off ODF momentum...
  • Office Open XML file format information or Standard ECMA-376 and the OOXML SDK information on MSDN

    I saw this question asked internally today, so I thought I would share. If you want to develop to use the Open XML document format you probably want to look at two things. The Microsoft resources (eg http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/aa905545.aspx ) and the ECMA resources Standard ECMA-376 . On the MSDN site you will find documentation and a MS SDK (less interest if you are developing using a functional language for your mainframe ). The ECMA site has the following: Standard ECMA-376 Office Open XML File Formats (December 2006) This Standard defines Office Open XML's vocabularies and document representation and packaging. It also specifies requirements for consumers and producers of Office Open XML. An Office Open XML overview is available on the Ecma website. Copy these file(s), free of charge: File name Size (Bytes) Content ECMA-376 Part 1 350 630 zipped DOCX file ECMA-376 Part 1 1 441 795 zipped PDF file ECMA-376 Part 2 341 625 zipped DOCX file with 2 Annexes ECMA-376 Part 2 1 286 494 zipped PDF file...
  • Office Rocker! : Ecma Open XML real world stories

    I don't know how many of you read the Office Rocker blog from Darren Strange ( http://blogs.msdn.com/officerocker ), but I did like this entry given all the recent discussions about Open XML. At the end of the day the discussion is not who's standard it is (ISO, ECMA etc) although there does appear to be a pecking order, but more about what people can do once it is in use. Darren has highlighted some people who are actually using Open XML to extend their business. Ecma Open XML real world stories This afternoon I was presenting at the Office Business Applications architects council with the good looking chaps on the right here. I was talking about some of the stories I've come across from our customers and partners who are using Ecma Open XML in their solutions. I have 4 stories published recently about Ecma Open XML that illustrate what I think are 3 significant categories: 1. Integrated add-in Fractal:Edge have a great visual concept for representing the drill down on data using what they call a...
  • The Open XML Vote (OOXML) and why I hate politics

    This is a rant and it is my opinion and does not reflect that of Microsoft or others - It is my Opinion! From 1992 to 1995 I had to write document converters - I had to pick apart binary file formats and translate them to another format. It was hard work and I JUST WISHED people would create a largely encompassing standard for documents that was documented so I did not have to do all the work myself. Role forward to today, Office is still the prominent document format (which is now documented on http://msdn.microsoft.com ), but there is a new kid in town that encompass everything that an Office document is and more. This is the Open XML document format. People have cried for years that they wanted the Office Document standard to become more than a defacto standard, they wanted it to become a format an open standard. It was always going to be large, but to cover all the features and functions available in Office, it would have to be. There is no point in the standard being something different to that used in Office...
  • Spreadsheets and documents based on standards - OpenXML and ODF, ODF and Excel or all 3

    I have been using and referencing standards for a long time. They are great. C# is an ECMA standard for example as are parts of .Net which is how project Mono has managed to come great strides in delivering part of the .Net experience on non-Microsoft platforms. Also my 1st job out after University was writing document converters. So there are two things here - one, what is wrong with more than 1 standard - we have several for networks, several for character sets. Often one standard will work where another will not. Nearly always one standard is driven by an interested party. Open Office is very keen to see greater adoption of ODF. Microsoft is very keen to seen greater adoption of OpenXML. OpenXML is already a European standard (ECMA) and one of the nice things about that is the stability you are offered if you are developing against it. There is no requirement to have Office to use this file format. OK, so we could say "lets not use the European standard and create a similar one, but not quite the same"...
  • Getting data out of or into Office 2007 documents just got easier with the Open XML gets an SDK

    If you are still undecided in the Open XML debate, or decided but want tools to make it easier then hop over to James blog and have a look at Views on Windows Vista : Open XML gets an SDK : Yesterday Microsoft announced a SDK (Software Development Kit) for SDK which allows developers to create code which works well with the Open XML thanks to the libraries, samples and documentation provided by the SDK. You can download the SDK here . If you now think that having this as a standard is a good idea, please go to here to add your vote. ttfn David Technorati tags: open XML , Office 2007 , Office System
  • Microsoft Rolling Out ODF Document Converter and participating in Standards processes

    This is not new news, but when I was at the Technet event yesterday it did come up. Someone asked about the what and why of Open XML and Open Document format. Luckily Darren Strange was on hand to answer the question (which he has done before). ODF is a great standard, but does not allow for amny of the things that our customers want, such as charts (to name just one). It is not unusual to have more than one standard way to do things (such as ASCII and EBDIC for character sets), so while ECMA has ratified OpenXML we are now working with a 2 nd standards body (ISO) to also get OpenXML ratified there too. For more information about the ODF converter, have a look at http://sourceforge.net/projects/odftranslator/ for the code and this article for news - Microsoft Rolling Out ODF Document Converter . Ttfn David

(c)David Overton 2006-18