Phase III of the b2xtranslator project resulted in quite evolved tools to translate Microsoft binary Office documents into OpenXML. The main purpose of this project was for sure to demonstrate that it is feasible to develop such translators just using the available file format specifications for the binary formats as well as for OpenXML.

But you can find some more goodies in this project:

  • the command line oriented architecture allows the translators to be easily integrated into existing systems, e.g. document management systems running on a server
  • the only software requirement is the .Net framework – or Mono; thus, portability is quasi built in
  • the open source approach allows the code to be re-used like a toolbox
  • implementation notes on developing the translator using the open document specifications of the binary format provided by Microsoft

Is this now the end of the line? No, I don’t think so. Apart from a number of still missing features for the Excel and PowerPoint translators such as Chart Translation or Pivot Tables we have some more ideas to enhance the b2xtranslators, e.g.

  • broadening the platform support by replacing legacy C-libraries still used for zipping OpenXML documents; thus, Mac OS X could also be supported
  • offering an option to view binary Word documents in a browser by combining the b2xtranslator with another open source project called OpenXML Document Viewer

These are just some of our ideas for a future version.

What’s about your input? Your feedback would be appreciated in our discussions how Phase IV of the b2xtranslator should be shaped.