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RE: MS Word and XML

To be very clear and attempting to be non-judgmental about this issue,
in fact the proprietary, binary formats of Microsoft's Office product
has indeed changed since Office 97 to at least accommodate new features.
To say otherwise is to tell hundreds of software engineers around the
world that there was absolutely no reason to need to reverse-engineer
the file formats of Office 2000 and Office XP for filters for their
products. Even RTF changed although in an upward-compatible manner.

I would disagree that there is ANYTHING straightforward about writing
an import filter for Microsoft Word-format documents, whether binary
or RTF. Not only is there the problem of physically parsing these
formats, but there is the larger problem of INTERPRETATION of the
formatting data therein. In fact, depending upon the "compatibility"
options chosen within Microsoft Word, document layout can vary all over
the place, literally. To make matters even worse, current versions of
Word do NOT interpret older versions of Microsoft Word binary format
the way they were originally interpreted by older versions of the 
software. Old Word documents that I created ten years ago have terrible
formatting problems, especially with regards to indents and spacing,
when opened by Word XP (i.e., the version that comes with Office XP)
today! If Microsoft has trouble interpreting all the versions of their
documents, what do you we and others have?!?

        - Dov (on a Monday morning!)

At 4/28/2003 10:20 AM, DW Emory wrote:
>At 06:19 PM 4/28/03 +0200, Moritz Berger wrote:
>>The author of that article fails to get its facts straight:
>>Quote: "By maintaining a proprietary binary format that frequently changes,
>>Microsoft has kept the exit costs high for potential defectors."
>>Let's see: 1997 was the last time that Microsoft changed the Word file
>>format (Office 2003 still uses the same "Word8" binary format as Office 97).
>>6+ years and going strong ain't "frequent changes" to me ...
>So, are you suggesting that the addition of new "features" to Word in the past 6+ years doesn't affect the ability to import Word documents into other DTPs such as FM? Why is it that the 3rd-party vendors of Word-to-Whatever filters have to keep updating their filters to track new Word releases?
>>Come on, you all ought to be familiar with the fact that importing Word
>>files into PM, FM, ID, QXP etc. is fairly straightforward and happens every
>>day at every publisher around the world.
>Now that's truly laughable. Anyone who converts from Word-to-Frame can attest to the massive cleanup required to turn it into a halfway decent Frame document.
>And of course going the other way--Frame-to-Word or RTF is even more catastrophic.
>The holy grail we all seek is true information interchange, which demands the capability to output documents created in any proprietary software product into a non-proprietary format established by an International Standard in which the content and the intended formatting is preserved, such that any other proprietary software capable of importing documents in that standard format can faithfully replicate both the content and the intended formatting of that content.
>Provably, Microsoft never intends to work toward that goal because it would threaten Offices's market domination, which now discourages competing software companies from producing products that are superior to those in the Office suite, particularly Word, which is most certainly the worst piece of crap ever created by human beings, and is probably responsible for the greatest diminution of human productivity in world history.
>>I somehow fail to see the "MS Office barrier of exit" that DWE and the
>>author of the yellow press "register" site proclaim ...
>>Reason that most people stick with Office IMHO is that the alternatives are
>See my above comment. Almost any good software company could produce products far superior to those in the Office suite if it had a good shot at generating a high enough demand to sell those products at a competitive price.
>FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
>DW Emory <danemory@globalcrossing.net>

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