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Check out XML in MS Office Pro 2003

What it allows the developer to do.

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Microsoft Office Professional 2003 has been in beta for a good while now, and Office 2003 Editions for Developers offer some great opportunities for synergy with VS.NET developers. That's what makes an article from the Microsoft Web site: "The Microsoft Office System and XML: The Value of XML on the Desktop" of great potential interest to XML-savvy .NET developers. For the full text of the article, please check here; for a great set of online information and related resources, drop the /XML.asp off the end of the URL to find a bunch of other cool stuff about XML support in Word, Excel, VS tools for MS Office, Smart documents and Smart Tags.

In a nutshell, Microsoft Office Word and Excel include support for XML as a native file format, which in turn not only enables users to work with and save documents in XML format, but also opens the door for all kinds of VS.NET applications to parse and use that XML, and to manipulate, transform and manage such XML based content. This means that developers can build Word 2003 templates (the .dot files that control document styles, content, structures, macros and so forth) that take advantage of XML applications such as XSLT and XPath. This capability also makes it easy to capture and reuse content across multiple applications, and to transform canonical content on the fly for access on various platforms (desktops, mobile devices, hand-helds and so forth) and platforms.

XML support also means Word and Excel can work as "smart clients" for Web services and document solutions, and to manage flexible connections between desktops and data stored on servers. New Office developer tools even include visual tools to map the elements of custom-build XML Schemas to Word document styles or Excel spreadsheet cells. Visual Studio .NET 2003 works with Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System so that developer can build code that executes behind documents to augment their capabilities, manage data repository links, perform automatic validation, and all kinds of other capabilities. This link-up is of great potential interest, because it allows users to work within familiar Word document and Excel spreadsheet structures that can take advantage of all kinds of advanced capabilities.

It's definitely worth looking into.

Ed Tittel is a principal at LANWrights, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of, where he writes and teaches on a variety of subjects, including markup languages, development tools, and IT certifications. Contact Ed via e-mail at

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