Office and XML

6/1/2005 8:56:04 PM

Office and XML

This is such good news from Yahoo — Next Office Edition to Default to XML.

Microsoft will default all Office formats to XML. They have also made it more concise and also allow it to save out to single-file, including pictures, charts and other objects. Microsoft also adds ZIP compression, new file extensions (docx, xlsx, pptx). On the other hand, XML formats lose some features such as password protection, encryption, simultaneous editing, and incremental loading unless rendered into alternative binary format.

Although it may make Microsoft more vulnerable to open-source, it gives Office software a lot more flexibility.

  • Open formats. Data interchange between Microsoft format and the rest of the world becomes much, much easier…
  • Extensible. XML documents are more extensible than binary formats. Also, because these documents are parsed, XML documents usually have better validation and tend to be less rigid with input.
  • Backward and forward-compatibility. Present binary formats constrains Office’s abilities to add new features, because they were not designed for forward compatibility. The result is that today’s XLS and DOC formats are a total mess to read and write even for Office.
  • Logical structure. XML documents present a logical structure that matches mental conceptualization of the document rather than the actual internal implementation. Present binary formats tend to mirror the physical data structures in memory and contain a lot of implementation detail, which make it more difficult for other programs and future versions of Office to process.
  • Others. Insert all the other traditional benefits such as being text-readable, self-describing, and more tool-friendly.

I think another version or two after the upcoming Office, binary files will become completely obsolete and forgotten and won't be able to round-trip the latest features.

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Net Undocumented is a blog about the internals of .NET including Xamarin implementations. Other topics include managed and web languages (C#, C++, Javascript), computer science theory, software engineering and software entrepreneurship.

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