Friday Thoughts 12-01-2006

I wanted to point out a few interesting things that have popped up over the past couple weeks:

IDC Report on Open Standards

Interesting study by IDC where they polled companies in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark to try and gauge the level of interest in open document standards. As you would imagine, the level of interest in the Open XML formats continues to grow, especially with the standardization vote only a week away and Office 2007 already out the door with full support for the final draft.

CompTIA believes Open XML will benefit the industry

"Our members believe that approval of Open XML by ECMA as an open standard will be a key advancement to the IT industry and provide critically needed choice in the document format space allowing for greater vendor independence and reduced lock-in. Competition among multiple open document standards will enhance innovation in document formats and increase flexibility and interoperability all to the benefit of software consumers. The approval of Open XML as an open standard will ensure that digital content is more efficiently stored and managed today as well as into the future."

Office 2007 "Business Launch"

Yesterday we announced the business launch of Windows Vista; Office 2007; and Exchange Server 2007. There is a blog describing all the details from the launch.

40 example code snippets for Open XML

Kevin Boske has an update on the code snippets that we last published back in June. They have now all been updated to work with the final draft of the Ecma standard. These are really great for folks trying to get started with development on top of the open xml formats. Kevin just had a baby girl (congratulations Kevin), so I'm not sure how active he'll be on his blog, but I'm sure he'll be checking every once in a while if you have any questions.

The snippets show how to do the following:

Excel Snippets

  • Add Custom UI

  • Delete Comments by a specific User

  • Delete Worksheet

  • Delete Excel 4.0 Macro sheets

  • Retrieve hidden rows or columns

  • Export Chart

  • Get Cell Value

  • Get Comments as XML

  • Get Hidden Worksheets

  • Get Worksheet Information

  • Get Cell for Reading

  • Get Cell for Writing

  • Insert Custom XML

  • Insert Header or Footer

  • Insert a Numeric Value into a Cell

  • Insert a String Value into a Cell

  • Set Recalc Option

PowerPoint Snippets

  • Delete Comments by User

  • Delete Slide by Title

  • Get Slide Count

  • Get Slide Titles

  • Modify Slide Title

  • Reorder Slides

  • Replace Image

  • Retrieve Slide Location by Title

Word Snippets

  • Accept Revisions

  • Add Header

  • Convert DOCM to DOCX

  • Remove Comments

  • Remove Headers and Footers

  • Remove Hidden Text

  • Replace Style

  • Retrieve Application Property

  • Retrieve Core Property

  • Retrieve Custom Property

  • Retrieve Table of Contents

  • Set Application Property

  • Set Core Property

  • Set Custom Property

  • Set Print Orientation

Doug Mahugh talks about arbitrary content within an Office Open XML file

Doug has a post where he talks more about the packaging conventions, and what you can to to put your own content into an Open XML file while still maintaining it's validity.

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Comments (6)

  1. JasonG says:

    Just going over the news here on Monday and I see that ODF has achieved final ISO standardization.  You’ve posted in the past about Open XML and ISO and I’m wondering how that’s going.  I’m guessing the ECMA standard will be final real soon now(tm) so congrats on all the hard work.

    Also, I get laughs every day on digg on slashdot with all the "open" people attacking this thing here and am wondering were all the supporters are?  Am I the only one who can comment about how ODF is just as patented as Open XML and how this spec can be freely downloaded?

  2. hAl says:

    Brain, could you please explain why Micrsoft has changed it covenant not to sue and removed the clauses concenring future versions ?

    This seems a serieus breach of trust towards the people relying on the promises made by Microsoft. It also makes the legal analysis on the covenant that you cited from in an earlier post completly worthless.

    Why has Micrsoft changed the covenant and why isn’t this mentioned on the page containing the covenant itself ???

  3. hAl, what are the changes you’ve seen? I’m not aware of any changes, but I can definitely find out.


  4. __hAl__ says:

    I might be wrong.

    They changed the covenant to reflect that it wil be made available for the Ecma Internatonal standard. Not sure when as the page has no datetime stamp.

    I thought it would have (also) said something about future versions of the formats in general.

    Might be wrong there but it seems important that the statement reflects all future version of the format MS uses in it’s Office suite as those might not always be exactly the same as the standard at that particular moment. Office could be ahead of standardization or use MS only extentions on the current standard.  

  5. Have you thought about using specialized XML compressors like XMill ( or

    XML-WRT ( These XML compressors are very fast (LZ77-based) and highly improve compression comparing to zip/gzip or Microsoft CAB.

  6. hAl, the covenant actually hasn’t ever mentioned future versions of Office formats. It’s something we’ve publicly said we would push to do, but you can’t have legal covenants based on things that don’t exist. Suffice to say, the current formats are open and everyone can use them. If for some reason Microsoft moved away from using those and started adding proprietary stuff, then I doubt people would use those things (or they would rightfully scream at us to open them up). 🙂

    Przemyslaw, when you say they are fast, do you mean the compression algorithms are fast? Or do you mean it actually makes it faster to parse the XML? We haven’t found that the compression/decompression times have much of an impact on the overall load and save times. The parsing of the XML itself though once the decompression has occured does take up a bit of time.


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