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June 22, 2004

"Office 2003 XML": Integrating Office with the Rest of the World

Sebastopol, CA--Ask a typical Microsoft Office user how built-in support for XML in Office 2003 has affected his or her work, and you're likely to be rewarded with a blank expression. For most users, Office 2003 has meant a slightly updated version of a familiar tool--yet another episode in the continuous development of a popular piece of software. But for some users, claim Evan Lenz, Mary McRae, and Simon St. Laurent--the authors of Office 2003 XML (O'Reilly, US $39.95)--the appearance of Office 2003 is a herald of tumultuous change. With XML at its heart, they note, the new version of the widely used desktop suite liberates the information stored in millions of documents created with Office software over the past fifteen years, making it available to a wide variety of programs.

"With the latest Windows-based version of Office, Microsoft has taken a risky step, opening up Office quite drastically," explain the authors. "Developers, even those who aren't using Microsoft Office--or even Microsoft Windows--will be able to easily process the information inside of Word and Excel files. Instead of just creating Word documents, users will be able to create data files that care been shared with other processes and systems. Excel users will be able to analyze data from a much wider variety of sources, and Access users will be able to exchange information with other databases and programs much more easily than before."

XML--Extensible Markup Language--is the wellspring of this new openness. The past few years have seen the development of an enormous number of tools for processing, creating, and storing XML. XML has, in fact, become the lingua franca that lets different kinds of computers and different kinds of software communicate with each other--all while preserving a substantial level of human accessibility.

Office 2003 XML explores the intersection between Office 2003 and XML in depth, examining how the various products in the Office suite both produce and consume XML. Readers will learn how to work with the diverse set of XML tools in Office, exploring how XML is supported in Word, Excel, and Access. Developers will learn how they can connect Microsoft Office to other systems, while power users will learn to create and analyze XML documents using familiar Office tools.

The book covers both the user interface side, creating interfaces so that users can comfortably (and even unknowingly) work with XML, and the back end, exposing Office information to other processes. It also looks at Microsoft's new InfoPath application and how it fits with the rest of Office. Finally, the appendices in Office 2003 XML introduce various XML technologies that may be useful in working with Office, including XSLT, W3C XML Schema, RELAX NG, and SOAP.

The book provides quick and clear guidance to anyone who needs to import or export information from Office documents into other systems. Office 2003 XML offers both XML programmers and Office power the tools they need to get the most from this powerful new intersection between Office 2003 and XML.

Additional Resources:

Office 2003 XML
Evan Lenz, Mary McRae, Simon St. Laurent
ISBN 0-596-00538-5, 567 pages, $39.95 US, $57.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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