Last year I was speaking on the Open XML file formats in Office 2007. Initially I wasn't thrilled to be speaking on the subject, however the more you dig into this area, the more compelling this file format is. The developer story around Open XML is particularly interesting and quite compelling.
Part of .Net 3.0 included the System.IO.Packaging class that allows you to quickly and easily read and write Open XML files using fairly standard code. This led Nigel and I to toss around building a simple converter application to help convert files from the old version to the new version. Nigel found the time one evening to build the app - you can download the application from his blog here. Converting documents to the new format could save you more than 60% of your existing disk space allocated to Office documents.
There have also been good support from third parties who are including OpenXML formats in their products including Corel WordPerfect suite, KOffice, Gnumeric (open source spreadsheet for Linux), Apples TextEdit as well as a number of others who have announced support for it (check out Brian's timeline here for more details). Even the iPhone supports OpenXML!
One of the other very cool things about the Open XML file format is that the container is simply a zip container. You can just rename the docx (or xlsx, pptx, etc) file to .zip and open it up to take a look at the contents. This is a great feature and makes it really easy to open the files up regardless of the platform or development environment you are using.
At Microsoft we think that the new Office file formats are pretty cool and will allow developers to build some funky new products that take advantage of the Open XML file format allowing them to do things like generate documents on a server without having to install Office on the server, move documents between formats and extract document information programmatically.
Get started - IIS Log analyzer sample
To help you get into this we've been working with Intergen to build out a sample application to allow you to take your IIS Logs and pull them into excel, do some analysis and build some reports using System.IO.Packaging.
If you are working with Open XML as a developer today, we'd love to hear from you! You can email me or leave a comment below.