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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mapping Documents in the Binary Format to the Open XML Format

A few interesting developments in Ecma's proposed disposition document
related to the Office binary formats: (1) There were a few comments
from national bodies that asked about the documentation of the Office
binary formats and the availability of those documents. We had already
been talking about these issues in TC45 where there were a number of
existing experts in the binary formats (including Apple, Novell, and
Microsoft). Based on the feedback from the national bodies, Microsoft
decided last week to take some additional steps in this area. The first
issue National Bodies were interested in was easier availability of the
documentation of the binary formats (.doc; .xls; .ppt). It sounded like
the main concern here was around the extra steps required to get the
binary documentation. The current form of the documentation has been
available since 2006.. The new proposal we (Microsoft) made to Ecma
TC45 was that we'd just get rid of the need to send an e-mail and we'd
provide it for direct download under the OSP. (2) The second issue we
had feedback on was an interest in the mapping from the binary formats
into the Open XML formats. The thought here was that the most effective
way to help people with this was to create an open source translation
project to allow binary documents (.doc; .xls; .ppt) to be translated
into Open XML. So we proposed the creation of a new open source project
that would map a document written using the legacy binary formats to
the Open XML formats... We will modify DIS 29500 to include an
informative reference to the SourceForge project.

1 comment:

Luc Bollen said...

I don't understand the approach of an open source project to establish the mapping between both formats.

Wouldn't it be much more efficient and reliable if Microsoft, who is the "designer" of both formats, publishes the mapping documentation that they have available ?

Microsoft could also publish the Compatibility Pack source code and make it open source, so that any application able to save in the binary format can easily upgrade and be able to save also in OOXML format.

That would be a wonderful boost to the adoption of OOXML. What do you think ?