Back in summer 2008 I attended a workshop in Redmond, WA regarding the future support of OOXML and ODF in Microsoft Office. I remember sitting down with one of the PMs at the time – talking to him about what a wonderful idea it would be to release the OpenXml SDK as OSS. I also remember how frustrating it was to be told – amidst between the lines - that “it ain’t gonna happen”.
Now – almost exactly 6 years later, they have finally listened (btw, I am in no way trying to take credit for “making” Microsoft OSS the OpenXml SDK – it was completely their decision to do it). But it does seem to confirm a trend in Microsoft – where the revenue cows (Office, Windows, and Servers etc.) are kept closed, but the tooling around them, the stuff that ties them all together – is with increasing frequency being released as open source.
The OpenXml SDK is released under the auspice of “MS Open Tech” – in other words; Doug Mahugh and friends. Eric White has been an integral part of making this happen. Kudos to all of them from here :-).
The source code is available on github
and is free for everyone to look at and download. The license
is Apache 2.0 . It will still remain to be seen if they request pull-requests, but I cannot imagine why they should not.
Now, I haven’t had the time to dig into the code in much detail yet, but I will do this in the following weeks. One thing I will look deeply into is the .Validate()-method of the toolkit. It validates the content of the OOXML-document being worked at – oh well, it should do, but if anyone has tried to run a document through e.g. my validator on http://29500.idippedut.dk
or Alex Brown’s at https://code.google.com/p/officeotron/
will have found out, that the document – even with a “clean” result from .Validate() is not valid according to the schemas of OOXML. It turns out, that it does not validate against the spec – it validates against the supported functionality of Microsoft Office. Now, that is a completely valid (no pun intended) approach from the SDK, since most working with OOXML at the end of the say need interoperability with Microsoft Office.
But now with the SDK being released to a larger amount of developers, I guess it would be appropriate to expand or “fix” the validation-method. One possible improvement could be to allow validation against a range of XML schemas. Another would be to allow validation after haven processed the document applying MCE to the content. A Third improvement would be to write out dependency of WindowsBase.dll ( and thereby System.IO.Packaging) . I have a theory that the reason why OpenXml SDK is not available on Windows Phone is this exact dll, and it would be nice to be able to manipulate OOXML-documents in memery on WP.
We’ll see what will happen to it in the future – what would you like to have changed in the SDK?