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Office 2003 Pro as an XML Authoring Application?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the state-your-opinions dept.

Microsoft 41

Saqib Ali asks: "Office 2003 Pro as been out for quite some time now. I was wondering how many large corporations have been to able use it as a XML authoring / modelling application? I have been involved in evaluation of several XML authoring / modelling applications and am planning to evaluate Office 2003 for it's XML authoring capabilities. The scope of my evaluation is limited to capabilities required for authoring technical documentation, preferably in DocBook XML. Is there anything I should keep in mind before starting the evaluation? One feature that I like about Office 2003 is its support for WebDAV. Our homebrewed CMS (Content Management Systems) supports WebDAV, which makes publishing the content a breeze. Except for OpenOffice, I haven't seen any other XML authoring application that has support for WebDAV. Any suggestions?"

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primo (-1, Offtopic)

yoyo4ever (530565) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760608)


XML Spy (2, Informative)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760618)

XML Spy supports web dav.

Re:XML Spy (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9765038)

XMLSpy is God's own XML editor.

It does *everything*. And well.

Re:XML Spy (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9766131)

And XMLSpy won the BileBlog [] best Java book award!

Re:XML Spy (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 10 years ago | (#9767883)

[plaudits for XML Spy by several posters]
It would have been nice if one of you advocates had provided a link [] .
It would also have been nice if one of you had mentioned that it is a commercial product, so that I wouldn't have had to waste my time Googling for nothing.

question for the author (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9760698)

Can you explain exactly what the point of XML is ?

It kind of makes sense for data interchange, but then so does ASCII. I don't see the point of taking ASCII where the problem is what the words mean, adding pointy brackets and setting up a scheme to strip them out, and then having the same problem of what the text means.

You can presume I've heard a lot of XML hype and obviously still have this question, so maybe concrete examples would be good.

Re:question for the author (4, Informative)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760800)

Can you explain exactly what the point of MetaData is?

If you can figure that out, I think you'll be able to extrapolate that to XML.

And if you really need an example, take this page you're viewing right now, copy the source to a text editor, remove all tags, save and load in your browser.

Yeah, I know, almost guaranteed to be trolling but ah well, maybe they're not.

Re:question for the author (1)

Creosote (33182) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760941)

No, the sad fact is that every time there is a post involving XML on Slashdot, a surprising number of people post to say that XML, as far as they can see, is overhyped, and they'll take plain old ASCII, thank you. (Particularly when the discussion involves the format of online books.)

Re:question for the author (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9764769)

XMP, as far as I can see, is overhyped. I'll take plain old ASCII when I need flat storage, or sexprs when I need a tree structure.

Re:question for the author (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9764782)

s/XMP/XML/. Doh! Shoulda used preview.

Re:question for the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9760973)

I didn't know slashdot was xml compliant?
a lot of tags aren't closed, like <nobr>

Re:question for the author (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761051)

Nobody said it was, and if you read the post you replied to carefully, you'd realize that "remove all tags" isn't likely to make it moreso.

Re:question for the author (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9765640)

The more important use of XML, IMHO, is abstraction of output format. Where I work, we generate a lot of documentation. On the order of 800 megabytes of documentation. That's available in HTML and PDF, one for easy web browsing, the other for convenient downloading. We use XML for the source material so that we can generate both trivially.

Of course, you could do this with any word processor, but you would end up either with a PDF that looks like a bunch of web pages hacked together or with a web page that looks like a really long, single-scroll PDF file.

The use of XML as source material also means that the site design can change severely without changing the contents. We also have other tools so that the entire site structure can change without impacting the writers at all. More significantly, parts of documents can be combined together arbitrarily into multiple larger documents in a useful fashion. For example, a collection of docs on Linux might include info on how to manage Apache, and that doc might be shared by another team documenting hwo to manage Solaris. (This has nothing to do with that I do, but hey, it's an example....)

In short, XML provides a mechanism where writers can be presented with a set of templates that present a reasonable view from a writer's perspective, yet be completely abstracted from the final document output formats, thus freeing them to "just write".

Re:question for the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9767951)

Yeah, what you said!
XML is great language in which to write source documents (e.g., DocBook) that can then be "compiled" into HTML, PDF, etc.
One can even generate multiple forms of each type (e.g., large-print PDFs for the visually-impaired, or A4-sized documents for the UK).

I also like that one can put parts (e.g., chapters) in separate files and merge them using a global document, loosely analogous to the way #include is used in C.

The reference replacement facility is nice, too.
If one's company name changes from, say, Caldera to SCO, or from Lindows to Linspire, one has to make only one change, rather than tens or hundreds.

Finally, the tree-like tagged nature of XML makes semantic searches of XML documents easier and more accurate.

Re:question for the author (2)

gus goose (306978) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760885)

<sarcasm>Me tooo. I don't understand these people who use <bold>XML</bold>! It does not add any value to <italics>traditional</italics> ASCII. People are so <red>bloody</red> ignorant. XML is so <dripping>blase</dripping>!!!!</sarcasm&g t;


Re:question for the author (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761609)

The original poster wrote:

"<sarcasm>Me tooo. I don't understand these people who use <bold>XML</bold>! It does not add any value to <italics>traditional</italics> ASCII. People are so <red>bloody</red> ignorant. XML is so <dripping>blase</dripping>!!!!</sarcasm>"

That's not a sarcastic response about XML. This is a sarcastic response about XML!


nice, but... (1)

Phillup (317168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9762772)

Oh for crying out loud...

Can't you indent?


BTW, I think something is wrong with the fourth character tag...

Re:question for the author (2, Informative)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 10 years ago | (#9763883)

You look at the stuff between the pointy brackets and use it as variable names and then you can do a name/value pair similar to what you get on a HTML form.

It's a lot easier to write and understand programs built that way than the "The account number is between columns 1 and 10 of the card; the customer's first name is between columns 11 and 40, ..."

I know because I've done both for EDI exchange and the former went a lot smoother than the latter.


Re:question for the author (2, Informative)

Decaff (42676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9794037)

Can you explain exactly what the point of XML is ?

XML is a standard way to mark up information. It is derived from SGML, but designed to be simple for people to read and for developers to write parsers for.

Before XML it was (and still is) common to devise specialised ASCII and binary formats which make no sense unless you have the documentation for the format.

An example I used to work with was chemical data, in which it was common to use position in a line to indicate meaning. In the middle of a large file you might find the line:

H 1.234 10.657 20.1234 902

What are the numbers? It may be sensible to assume they are co-ordinates, but what units? What is the number on the end?

A sensible markup will include information about meaning:

<atom><type>H</type><x unit="nm">1.234</x> etc.

This looks verbose, but is very amenable to compression.

Another important aspect to XML is extensibility. An XML document can have new tags added without breaking previously organised parsing.

XML may be verbose, and is often slow to parse, but its an excellent way for different software and organisations to exchange and store information in a documented format that won't lose meaning because it is a standard.

XML Mind (3, Interesting)

Plake (568139) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760750)

XMLMind [] works with WebDAV and is great for DocBook. We use it for all of our documentation.

Windows, KDE.. (1)

spectral (158121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760820)

I thought windows had 'Web Folders', which was WebDAV access? If you can switch OS's, KDE's kioslaves almost certainly support it. I can't check at the moment though..

Re:Windows, KDE.. (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761119)

I can verify that - I've used KDE's webdav:// and webdavs:// ioslaves to access "folders" on a Microsoft(r) Exchange(r) server before.

The reason I'd hesistate and look long and hard at an MS project for this is standards support. MS's WebDAV/"Web Folders" support appears to have a number of quirks (what a surprise), so it MAY not interoperate properly with anything else. (Someone else has already mentioned the licensing concerns over using MS's schema as well).

(I actually submitted an "Ask Slashdot" yesterday regarding making MS-version services - e.g. SharePoint(r)'s version of WebDAV - interoperate with anything else, though I have a sneaking suspicion that it'll get auto-rejected. If not, hopefully some people will post in it about getting MS to interoperate with WebDAV and perhaps some commentary about how standards-compliant their XML schema are.)

Re:Windows, KDE.. (1)

Foolhardy (664051) | more than 10 years ago | (#9762405)

Here [] is an interesting page from MS about how WebDAV works.
Apparently, any app in XP can use WebDAV since it has been added as a new filesystem driver (mrxdav.sys).

licensing (2, Informative)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9760856)

Check the terms of the agreement if you wish to use their schema. License here []

Re:licensing (2, Insightful) (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761195)

Actually I DONT want to use microsoft's schema. It has too many licensing restrictions.

I want to use DocBook schema instead. DocBook schema is much better, and has a open license.

XMLMind (2, Insightful)

ChaseTec (447725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761015)

I'm using XMLMind's XML Editor [] . I just took over the's Enterprise Java on Linux Howto and I didn't have any experience with docbook and it's been fairly easy with XMLMind. It's sort of a WYSIWYG editor for docbook and it will do transformation to html. There is a free version but if you buy it then you get webdav support. I was going to buy it since I like the free version so much but it's a little pricey for me but since we're comparing it to Office here...Oh, and it's Java based so it'll run anywhere.

Re:XMLMind (1)

StupidEngineer (102134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761627)

I use XMLMind's software... It's great for the techinical documentation. Great for docbook in general. However, the pdf and html generation plugins require you to use the pay version. It isn't a big deal for me since I'll use the open source docbook to pdf tools... But can be for those that don't have that available to them.

WebDAV in the OS so all apps... (2, Informative)

johnjones (14274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9761685)

windows supports WebDAV (internet folders and such even with win98)
Apple Supports WebDav (OS X finder mounts them)
Linux Supports WebDAV (through FileSystem mounting)

so why is this a big deal ?

most Adobe products have WebDAV support there is that old stallwart FrameMaker and their high end versioning system is infact a WebDAV server based...

XML in terms of Docbook can be edited in all editors and some even have things to help you along like formating,preview,block level viewing and colour highlighting

try out xemacs (its pretty nice) or any good editor

john 'confused' jones

p.s. personally I would go with frammaker

Re:WebDAV in the OS so all apps... (2, Informative) (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#9764469)

> windows supports WebDAV (internet folders and such even with win98) Actually to be exact, it was the Internet Explorer that introduced the concept of Web Folders on Windows.

If you ever use Web Folder on Windows, you will quickly realize that the Application needs to support Web Folder/Web DAV as well, to be able to save to that Web Folder.

For e.g. open up Notepad/Wordpad and try to save to a Web Folder on Windows. You WON'T be able to do so. You can cut and paste files into a Web Folder, but that is not really streamlining the content publishing process.

It is almost imperative that the application in question also supports WebDAV.

There were rumors that Microsoft had planned to improve the WebFolder functionality on Windows XP. But that never happened. I guess MS wants the users to use native File Sharing technology rather than a more Open Standard protocol. Actually on Windows XP, they crippled WebDAV authentication if you are trying to connect to the Unix based Apache server. On XP you can only connect to a MS IIS based WebFolder.
Windows XP adds the domain context to the user credential when passing the credentials to a WebServer. Windows ISS server knows to ignore the domain context, but most of the other WebDAV server don't. To get around this you have to connect to a WebDAV share using I.E.

Re:WebDAV in the OS so all apps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9780443)

That is interesting.

I am using windows 2000 notepad and have a web folder setup in the network places.

I click on save and then on "My Network Places". I then open the web folder and save it.

I must be using a different notepad than you are.

madness (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 10 years ago | (#9762219)

You must be out of your mind. Get gvim 6 installed onto your XP box and be happy. If you insist on spending money, use XMLSpy.

Jedit? OpenOffice? (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 10 years ago | (#9763130)

Not the same, but close? Jedit is a text editor, but it has extensions that can do the XSLT xforms internally, as well as structure browsers and tag completion. OpenOffice is probably what you want because it has built-in filters to export to DocBook. You can also add your own export filters to xform to whatever schema you want.

Easy (0, Offtopic)

toolio (232349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9763180)


Microsoft... ewwww....

I'm not using XML directly. (1)

FFFish (7567) | more than 10 years ago | (#9763539)

I write/publish our technical documents using the reStructured Text markup conventions. These are processed by Docutils to XML. The XML is handled by Saxon and an XSL:FO transformation. The XML:FO is then rendered to PDF using XEP.

The documents are CVSed, so that I can claw back time and so that I can have multiple authors without too much worry about them stomping all over one anothers' work; and the publishing system is run automatically every night.

The advantages are significant: reST is easy to read as a plaintext file, while XML is a mess of tagging; we can use our own favourite text editors; and the output is thoroughly professional, pretty much on-par with Framemaker for most of our purposes. Plus I can easily repurpose the content, rendering out to HTML or LaTex or CHM help files.

Basically, reST is to XML as C is to assembly language.

BXE (2, Informative)

Thalinor (4731) | more than 10 years ago | (#9765259)

BXE [] is an open source browser-based WYSIWYG XML editor with WebDAV support.

XML in O2k3 overhyped (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9765548)

the format is like:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<datafile type='MSWord'> _LOTS_(&**(&_OF_(*&D)(*SDLKJ(*&(*&_BINARY_(*&SD(*& *(&SD_DATA

XMetaL supports WebDAV (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 10 years ago | (#9767392)

'nuff said.

Office 2003 data loss when exporting to XML (1)

Nailer (69468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9767709)

Is there anything I should keep in mind before starting the evaluation?

Yes. Office 2003 Pro's XML export is exactly that - an export. According to Microsoft, certain information in .doc and .xls files can't be represented in the XML format and will be lost when exporting.

OpenOffice uses XML as its native format, and does not suffer data loss when using XML. If someone hands you an existing .doc or .xls, you could better preserve its content by using Openoffice than MS Office.

You don't know what you are talking about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9767778)

He doesn't want to export DOC files as XML, he wants to use the XML authoring features. Pay attention!

Dear Genius (1)

Nailer (69468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9767954)

He doesn't want to export DOC files as XML, he wants to use the XML authoring features. Pay attention!

His authoring tool may allow him to perform edits he can't save in his output file.

The sources for his technical doco may also include Word files.

Xselerator is king for XML+XSLT (1)

Sembiance (124190) | more than 10 years ago | (#9771546)

If your XML is gonna be translated with XSLT, then hands down the best XML/XSLT editor to use is Xselerator
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