Previous releases of the b2xTranslator were mainly focused on the translation from doc to docx (doc2x) while the translators for xls to xlsx (xls2x) and ppt to pptx (ppt2x) have been neglected a bit.

This is going to be changed in Phase III of the b2xTranslator project: The doc2x translator is quite mature now (nevertheless, some of the high priority bugs reported on SourceForge are going to be fixed in Phase III); consequently, the two other translators xls2x and ppt2x will benefit from new feature implementations.

Keeping this in mind the project scope is centered on the following topics:

  • New feature implementation in xls2x and ppt2x
  • Sustaining doc2x (fixing high-priority defects)
  • Quality, performance and regression testing (all translators)
  • Compatibility with Mono (all translators)
  • Checking the completeness and clarity of the file format specifications

While Microsoft provides with Office 2007 and the File Format Compatibiliy pack for earlier Office versions a migration path from binary Office formats to OpenXML the b2xTranslator project is still necessary for the following reasons

  • Enables the back-office / batch scenario due to its a command-line-based architecture
  • Provides a cross-platform story via .Net/Mono, i.e. it the translators run, for example, on SUSE Linux
  • Proves the usability and completeness of the file format specifications
  • Allows that anyone uses the mapping, code snippets, etc. due to the open source development approach based on the liberate BSD license

There are some other very interesting news coming from Microsoft's document format teams: They've published another set of document-format implementation notes, this time for the ECMA-376 1st Edition implementation in Office 2007 SP2. As with the ODF 1.1 implementation notes published in December, the goal of publishing these notes is to help other implementers improve interoperability with Office, by transparently documenting the details of Microsoft's implementation.

To get to the ECMA-376 implementer notes, go to the DII home page and click on Reference and then select ECMA-376 1st Edition from the dropdown list. You'll then see a treeview control in the panel on the left, which contains the entire structure of the ECMA-376 spec.

Check also Doug's blog for more information ...