Next Steps for Working with the Office Open XML Formats

Next Steps for Working with the Office Open XML Formats

The Office Open XML Formats have come about as the result of an enormous amount of work by an international committee of experts, working through a standards organization named Ecma International. Because this is an open standard, Ecma International makes the complete documentation of the language and standards related to these formats freely, publicly available.

The complete documentation is about 6,500 pages, broken into five core documents and several supporting documents, which are all available for download from Ecma International. For ease of reference, the final drafts of those documents (the most recent versions available as of press time for this book) are also available in PDF format on the Resources tab of this book’s CD. Assuming, however, that you may not have the time or inclination to read several thousand pages on this subject, following is a brief summary of what you can expect to find in a few of these documents that I believe will be the most useful for those who want to go further with Office Open XML.

First, note that much of the content in these files is written for developers and assumes knowledge of XML. So, I definitely recommend getting comfortable with the content in this chapter before venturing too far into the standards documentation.

  • Office Open XML Part 1: Fundamentals provides extensive technical detail for the structure of the ZIP packages and parts within them. However, it also provides one item in particular that might be of interest-an overview of the different types of Office Open XML used for documents from each of the applicable programs (such as WordprocessingML for Word or SpreadsheetML for Excel). Following the overview, the further you dive into this document, the more you’ll find of the structural requirements for each type of Office Open XML.

  • Office Open XML Part 3: Primer is an extensive primer, written for developers, on working with the features of the new formats. It provides quite a bit in the way of detailed examples and illustrations, and is a great place to go to continue learning once you have your bearings with the information provided in this chapter.

  • Office Open XML Part 4: Markup Language Reference is a whopping 5,219 pages. It’s a complete, detailed reference to the Office Open XML language, including the storage of custom XML data. As of the final draft, most of the first 32 pages of this PDF are tables of contents that break down the available terminology for use with documents from each program. I wouldn’t recommend this resource to someone new to the Office Open XML Formats because its depth and breadth could easily be overwhelming. But, once you have the basics down, it’s the ultimate reference tool if you decide to take your work with the XML formats to another level and, particularly, if you want to move toward projects in which you would create ZIP packages for complete documents through code.

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