Updated binary formats documentation


We have announced today the release of version 1.0 of technical documentation for a variety of protocols used by Office, SharePoint and Exchange. this brings the total amount of protocol documentation available for free download on MSDN to about 50,000 pages, including 5,000 pages of new documentation for the binary file formats alone.


The binary format documentation is thorough and well-organized, and will be useful to anyone who needs to write code that reads existing binary documents. Here, for example, is a diagram showing the basic structure of tables in the .DOC format:



And here’s a diagram that shows how metadata is organized in a spreadsheet file:



Speaking of spreadsheets, this new batch of documentation also covers the XLSB format that is used in Office 2007 to optimize performance in unusually large and complex spreadsheets. For a full list of what formats are covered, see the MSDN site.


The documentation is supported on a group of User Forums that are organized by general topic. If you have specific questions about the details, that’s the place to get them answered, and for more information about the things we’re doing to enable interoperability with Office see today’s press release or the Microsoft interop site.


Comments (3)

  1. Wow, can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post. I’ve been pretty busy getting back into

  2. Rebentisch says:

    This sounds very promising. However, many experts say that the documentation tends to be incomplete and I am not sure that can be blamed on your company in any way. Is there any kind of "forensic" project which tries to document legacy formats and interact with external users of the documentation (feedback/qa)? I personally made good experiences with usage of team wikis to document legacy stuff.

    Then another annoyance of documentation users is that MSDN documentation tends to disappear or CMS links get changed. Does Microsoft provide any solutions to make its documentation more "www-ready"?

    Third, the patent licensing terms OSP need some honest rethinking and analysis to ensure better market confidence. We know that patent indemnification is a new field of private law with not enough "testing". A South African standards person wrote me today: "The matter of legal tools being in their infancy is significant. To a certain extent we can see things like the OSP as an experiment in this area.  Unfortunately I have not seen anything robust enough as yet to be taken seriously.  Including the OSP or other covenants and promises."

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