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Microsoft Reveals OOXML SDK Roadmap

Microsoft this morning revealed to developers the expected next steps in the software development kit (SDK) for the Office Open XML (OOXML) file format specification.

Available as a community technology preview (CTP) since June 2007, The OOXML SDK provides tooling and resources for programmatic manipulation and handling of XML files produced by the 2007 versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

According to Doug Mahugh, Microsoft senior product manager for Office client interoperability, a mature beta version of the OOXML SDK will be released in April. The month after that, developers can expect the final, shipping version of the 1.0 version of the kit.

"In May we'll have the actual GoLive version available," Mahugh said. "We wouldn't commit to doing that in just a few weeks from now, really, unless we had very high confidence in the code as it stands."

Mahugh said that the beta SDK expected next month will contain the Open XML Packaging API and provide complete support for the defined classes that will be delivered in the final version, including schemas, styles and font tables.

SDK 2.0
Microsoft also provided guidance for the next update of the OOXML SDK, version 2.0, which is expected to enter beta stage in July. According to Mahugh, that version will include all the components of the Open XML API architecture. This includes markup APIs for WordprocessingML, SpreadsheetML, PresentationML and Shared ML

Key to version 2 of the SDK is support for LINQ to XML. Language Integrated Query (LINQ) is the much-touted Microsoft technology designed to streamline programmatic data access and operations by embedding SQL queries directly within program code. The LINQ functionality is expected to draw a lot of developer attention.

"If you look at LINQ to XML technology at kind of a high level, this is a new way of querying XML documents, and the net effect is that it's a lot less code," Mahugh explained. "Whenever I look at LINQ to XML code, I always think something is missing. It's very terse and elegant code."

Mahugh says OOXML SDK 2.0 is expected to ship in the Office 14 product wave. Microsoft has not provided any timing for the release of Office 14. According to a February blog post by Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may be targeting the first half of 2009 for the next version of its flagship productivity suite.

Developers can learn more about the Open XML SDK at a number of Microsoft and OOXML community-sponsored sites, including OpenXMLDeveloper.org, OpenXMLCommunity.org and the OOXML area of MSDN.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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