There has been quite a bit of Open XML discussion in the blogosphere recently, and I've not posted on my blog for two weeks (a personal record, if not one to be proud of!), so without further delay here's a recap of some of the posts and articles I've found most interesting lately ...
Two new articles on OpenXMLDeveloper.org have been posted this week:
- Custom XML Mapping in SpreadsheetML
covers how to set up custom XML mapping through the Excel user interface. The ability to map spreadsheet cells to an external XML data source can be very useful, and this article shows you how to get started.
- DrawingML implementation for Image/Picture in SpreadsheetML covers the basics of how images are handled in spreadsheets as DrawingML objects. If you want to add images to an XLSX that you're generating for reporting purposes, start here.
A new MSDN whitepaper on Open XML in health care provides an in-depth look at how Open XML's custom schema support can solve common interop challenges. Don't let the title fool you: "Using Office Open XML Formats to Support Electronic Health Records Portability and Health Industry Standards" is much more than a health-care scenario; it's a blueprint for how to work with custom XML parts in any scenario. The authors are all very experienced Open XML experts: Wouter Van Vugt, Ted Pattison (who delivered the first Open XML development session I ever saw, in Toronto nearly two years ago), and Chris Predeek (who wrote most of the hands-on labs for the developer workshops we delivered all over the world last year). And the whitepaper includes code samples, markup samples, detailed explanatations, and diagrams to pull it all together. Great work, guys!
Want to take advantage of the techniques in that article from PHP instead instead of .NET? Maarten Balliauw's "Open XML in Healthcare in PHP" tells you how. He has ported the code from the MSDN whitepaper to PHP, including everything except the digital signature portion. An amazing piece of work, especially considering that Maarten just did this "for fun" in his spare time. Maarten's one of those guys who makes me wonder "when does he sleep?"
TechEd/Barcelona this week has three Open XML sessions. You can get all the details at the TechEd web site, but here's a synopsis of what's being offered:
- OFF201, "An Introduction to Open XML," has Wouter Van Vugt (author of "Open XML Explained") and Peter Smulovics (Microsoft/Hungary evangelist) covering the basics of Open XML development;
- OFF310, "Open XML in the Real World," adds Julien Chable (architect of the OpenXML4J project) to Wouter and Peter for a look at typical architecture and implementation details for Open XML projects built on both the .NET and Java platforms;
- OFF03-IS, "Discussing Open XML in the Real World," will be an open "chalk talk" session where Wouter, Peter, Julien and others will be available to discuss your questions about hands-on Open XML development issues. This should be a great session, so be sure to attend if you have specific questions about how to implement Open XML in your own projects.
Speaking of Wouter (and really, who isn't these days?), he has embarked on a new phase of his career as an entrepreneur, starting a company called Code Counsel to counsel coders on Office, SharePoint, and Open XML development topics. His blog has moved, so be sure to updated your RSS feeds to keep up with what's going on with the flying Dutchman going forward.
An assortment of articles and blog posts on Open XML and related topics:
- "The X Factor: As the industry battles over XML file formats, what should dev managers focus on?" by Michael Desmond has some interesting perspective and quotes from Microsoft's Brian Jones, Altova's Alexander Falk, and others;
- Alex Falk also offers some great tips in his post "XMLSpy Tip: Using the XPath analyzer to quickly find information in files" -- the dynamic evaluation of XPath expressions makes XMLSpy a nice XPath learning tool;
- Michael Scherotter is at it again, with tips on how to transform WordprocessingML into XAML in "Better Online Documentation: Creating WPF FlowDocuments from Word 2007";
- Erika Ehrli recaps the first "100+ Office Visual How To's," and many of them offer great examples of Open XML development techniques;
- Rick Jelliffe's series on converting XML schemas to Schematron includes a wealth of information on both approaches to XML validation. If you're familiar with XML schema but would like to explore the expressive power of Schematron, check it out: he's up to Part 8 and there's still more to come;
- ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn and Paula Rooney started a heated discussion with their post "Will GNOME split give Microsoft [sic] Open XML standards win?"
ZDNet Asia's "RosettaNet targets standard at SMEs" covers how RosettaNet Malaysia has taken advantage of of Open XML's architecture to enable low-cost implementation of procurement standards for small and medium-sized enterprises. This is the result of a collaboration with Microsoft and Intel announced last year, and Malaysia's numerous small and mid-size hi-tech manufacturers will benefit from this approach. (Hat tip to Oliver on this story, and congratulations to Dr. Dzahar, Patrick, and my other friends in Malaysia who have been instrumental in driving this project forward.)
One topic that's getting a lot of attention lately is the rift in the ODF camp around Compound Document Format. I'm not yet sure what to make of it all, but here are a few links to all sides of the debate:
- the home page of the OpenDocument Foundation web site offers a summary of the reasons for their withdrawal of support of ODF in favor of CDF;
- Cnet's "Former OpenDocument advocates bolt for W3C standard" by Martin LaMonica pulls together quotes from Gary Edwards and others;
- Jason Matusow's "Document Formats Discussions" frames the discussion well, and includes some interesting comments from key players;
- Oliver Bell's "Inconsequential Drama in the ODF Camp" offers a long-term "get on with it" perspective on the story;
- For French speakers, Julien Chable's "Ca gronde du côté de l'ODF!!! Enfin?" covers the story.
New role, same Doug. I mentioned above that I've not posted on my blog for a couple of weeks, and one of the reasons has been that I've been busy with a transition to a new role at Microsoft. I'm still 100% focused on Open XML, but from a slightly different perspective now, having moved from a technical evangelist position in our Developer Platform Evangelism organization to a product manager position in the Office organization.
My new role is primarily about enabling interoperability for the Office clients, and that means Open XML first and foremost. As a practical matter, you'll probably find me leading fewer developer workshops in the future, and I'll probably have even more to say about how Open XML interacts with other technologies going forward, but other than that I'll be active in all the same places, including this blog and the OpenXMLDeveloper web site. The Open XML story is just beginning, and I'm looking forward to an exciting 2008 as we see more and more adoption by developers and users.