First draft of the MSOfficeXML file format has been released · FileFormat.Info

First draft of the MSOfficeXML file format has been released

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2006-05-20

The first draft of Microsoft Office's new XML file format documentation has been released by ECMA. It weighs in at a whopping 4,000 pages.

This is such a clever piece of marketing that it really seems like propaganda. This is neither open nor a standard.

Why isn't it a standard? Well, let's say (just hypothetically) that somewhere in the 4,000 pages is something that is different from the way MSOffice actually works. A competitor follows the ECMA documents. The question: who is right? The answer here is that whatever MSOffice does is the de facto standard. It is the ECMA document that will be considered to be buggy and fixed in the next "draft". Read Brian Jones's description of how the document was made: someone had to go into MSOffice and select each option and just see what it did. If any ECMA document differs with the MSOffice implementation, do you really think that Microsoft will change MSOffice? Even if they wanted to, any new version has to be 100% backwards compatible.

Why isn't it open? Every word is written by Microsoft. No change will happen without Microsoft's approval. This is just Microsoft documentation. Why try to put fancy labels on it (other than as a political ploy)? I guess I am just amazed at how long Microsoft has been able to resist the calls to document the binary file formats.

Please note that I am still really pleased that Microsoft is actually documenting it. This documentation will be vital for anyone who has MSOffice documents. I hope this sets documented file formats as a minimum standard for software makers.

I am thinking of doing a "report card" that compares the common document file formats and how appropriate they are for different scenarios.

Tags: microsoft

File Formats: MSOfficeXML