Session A209 – New XML file formats
Probably the shortest session of the day…
Office 12 or Office 2007 will now use the OpenXML standardized format (yes, I know, it is a Microsoft format, but I hope it will be followed by others to store documents) to store Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. This could break the compatibility with the previous versions of Office unless Microsoft provides a way to export/import new documents to older versions of Office. And they will….at the same time they will release Office 2007. For the user, the only difference he/she will see will be the extension used to name the documents. For Word, it will be either .docx or .docm depending if the document does not contain or does contain macros in it respectively. This will avoid to open a document to see that finally it contains macros.
For a developer point of view, the difference is more evident. He will see a zip file. To proof that, simply rename a .docx or .docm file to a .zip one. For the little story, you could do the same with an OpenOffice document. Into this package, at least one file, [ContentTypes].xml and three folders. The [ContentTypes].xml contains all the types of sub-document that can be found in the document, such as dooters and headers. In the .refs folder, there is one file containing all links from the main document and its sub-documents. And finally, the documents with the content in plain XML are also stored in one of these folders.
The major advantage of this new format is that files will have a more little size because of the zip compression. Secondly, it is now possible to generate reports or documents automatically from a web server, for instance, without installing the well-known OLE-Com Office library.