Batch-convert Office files to 2007’s Open XML format

A customer asked me the other day if Microsoft was ever going to build batch-conversion facilities to take old format files that live on a network fileshare, and convert them to the newer XML-based formats – his reasoning was the sometimes considerable reduction in size when saving as .DOCX or .XLSX compared to the binary .DOC and .XLS formats.

<wistful memories>

I remember writing a tool to do exactly this with Word docs, going from Word 2.0 to Word 6.0, using Visual Basic to automatically pump the necessary keystrokes into a Word 6.0 application, using the SendKeys() function… crude and somewhat clumsy, but for a one-off process, it worked fairly well 🙂

</wistful memories>

Coming back to the present, I was pleasantly susprised to discover the release last month of the Office Migration Planning Manager – a collection of tools which allows for scanning of networked files to report on any potential conversion issues, and batch conversion of those documents (either by creating an Open XML format document alongside the old binary one, or by replacing the original with the OOXML format file).

Remember of course that you can consume these formats in older versions of Office, using the Compatibility Pack. There’s a growing movement to adopt OpenXML as an industry standard – ECMA has already given the format its blessing, and the ISO is reportedly amenable to ratifying the format as a standard also. The momnentum is growing for 3rd parties who are building support for OpenXML – even OpenOffice now has a way of consuming and creating OpenXML documents.

UPDATE: Conincidentally, perhaps, Geek in Disguise, Steve Clayton posted last night about an online petition to the ISO to support the Open XML proposals- if you really value open-ness, even if Microsoft is the instigator of the efforts, go ahead and sign the petition

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