Follow-up: Microsoft Office 2003 and Server-Side


Somone posted feedback to my last post saying that I had offered little thought or direction. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. In any case, I agree that more information is needed, and my original post was really just to jot a few thoughts.

Here’s more about what I mean with respect to server-side documents and the flexibility of Office 2003.

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger view of the architecture.

So, you have a Web app (or a client app that connects to a remote system). This Web app lets users configure loads of detail. Maybe it’s an insurance company and workers set up claims when they receive phone calls. They set up all sorts of information over the Web that connects to a remote system, usually a database. Then, they want to generate a bunch of documents: letters to the persons filing the claim, drafts of legal documents, and a letter to the policy holder. Then, when these are generated, they want to open them in Word and do some modifications before printing/sending.

This is easily done in Word 2003 with the WordProcessingML format. The documents are generated server-side without invoking the Word OM at all. Then, the users can open the documents and work them normally. Creating the documents and slipping them into a workflow stream is also a sensible thing to do.

If you check out the Office Developer Center, you will find out a lot more content in this regard.

 Rock Thought for the day: I am sure everyone has heard about Bono’s lost brief case being returned to him in Portland. What I would like to see now is a re-make of the October album- not just a simple re-do with the new lyrics and with reminiscence of what they were trying to achieve then. They should do a new October album that is informed by what they just recovered AND by their new musical inspiration. So much of October is still relevant today, and they could do something magical with this material.

Finally, the lip-sync gaff by Ashlee Simpson is unfortunate in many obvious ways. Yesterday, I was listening to the Black Crowes and I just love the raspy, blues-driven, smokey roadhouse voice Chris turns loose on those tracks. It’s real. One syllable says it all.

Rock on.

Comments (6)

  1. Gabe says:

    So you are basically constructing an XML file that conforms to the WordProcessingML format and sending them back to client? Are you converting them to a binary .DOC format first (and if so, how)? If not, you would have to assume the user has Office 2003 Pro. If you are not converting, why not just generate an RTF file? Fairly easy to do and can then be opened in almost all word processors.

  2. My current project team is in the process of building a document automation system similar to this for a law firm. However, we are in the process of converting about 12k Wordperfect templates to WordML. Each template has embedded conditioning and formatting that is processed on the fly to produce a clean WordML doc. Then we merge together multiple WordML docs, convert it to a PDF, store it in SQL, send to printer, email it to customer, or whatever the final destination is. So far, the performance of the WordML manipulation has been outstanding — actually unbelievable. All server side…