When Microsoft said it would submit its own XML-based document standard and favor that in Microsoft Office over the already-ratified Open Document Format, there was a bit of a row. Microsoft's Open XML and ODF are built on the same basic XML foundations, but they're not directly compatible with each other. This has prevented both the Open Document and Open XML formats from gaining traction.
Office 2007 also shipped without support for PDF -- another major document-interchange format -- but that was available as an official add-on for registered users. Now Microsoft has sponsored an open-source OpenXML translator add-in for Word 2007, which has been downloaded quite aggressively since it debuted in its 1.0 incarnation just a few days ago.
It's nominally available as an add-on for Word 2007, but it's also available in a stand-alone command-line implementation, so it can be used for batch processing or automated document conversion. The add-in is released under the BSD license, and full source code is available, with regular nightly builds provided on SourceForge. Note: The converter requires the presence of the .NET 2.0 framework or better even in the command-line edition.
The translator can work both ways -- to convert an ODF document to OpenXML and vice versa. However, a few things may be lost in each direction of the conversion at this stage of the game. For instance, if you convert ODF to OpenXML, cropped images and embedded objects -- just to name two things -- won't translate. A full list of all the available supported features is included in the documentation packaged with the converter tool. Other OpenXML/ODF converters for Excel and Powerpoint documents are also in development and are scheduled to be released by November.
About the author:
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.
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This was first published in February 2007