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By Dean Forster
The Extensible Markup Language (XML) can best be defined as a subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language. It is called ‘extensible’ because it allows users to add their own elements in it. It has one keyword: simplicity. Documents from different system types are converted into XML so that the file can be shared without any hassles.
As XML developed, it became more specific. Some application languages like XHTML and the like were implemented using this language. It has become so famous that even packages like MS Office has incorporated it in its components. This article focuses on only one of those components: MS Word XML.
Microsoft first introduced the XML capability as a separate package. This was referred to as Office Open XML. Better known as OOXML or OpenXML, this package allowed users to specify XML file formats in word documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The package was later taken over by Ecma International. This was the way in which many Office components were born, including MS Word XML. Ecma, however, has been unsuccessful in obtaining standardization since there aren’t enough votes to support it. Later it was then directly incorporated into all the MS Office components.
It is said that the efficiency and versatility of MS Office has increased greatly after it started incorporating support for XML. More recent versions like Word 2007 have the option to save your document with the extension .xml, directly. While simple files are converted successfully into this format, there have been some recurring problems when saving complex documents in the .xml file format. Good news is that images are stored directly in the documents and we do not need to extract it separately. Though the result isn’t as extensible as it ought to be, people say that it will suffice, for the moment.
What would be the advantages of a word editor, like MS Word, coupled with XML? The first advantage is the fact that files can be preserved better and can be safely transferred between systems of different types. The other benefits that one would get include better security, improved integration, increased compatibility and compactness. These benefits are more pronounced when used in business enterprises.
MS Word XML has also had its fair share of criticism. One of the major drawbacks, according to the customers, is its awful interactivity. While MS Word does give plenty of support, the process of invoking and using that support is tiresome to say the least. Moreover, the document size isn’t as small as one would expect. Apart from this, numerous inconsistencies are also said to exist internally. For reasons like this some people save the word document in its original form and then use a Word to XML converter.
Experts predict the future to be increasingly dependant ont is, so MS Word XML is definitely a start. One has to see how it will be enhanced and what extensible features it will provide.