EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

01.11.07

Proprietary Open XML Extensions (Already!)

Posted in Apple, Deception, ECMA, Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, VBA at 12:03 am by Shane Coyle

As you are likely aware, Excel 2007 includes a new file format for storing data, well actually it has a few new file formats apparently. And, none of them are OpenDocument, in case you were wondering.

Rob Weir takes Office 2007 for a spin, and has some interesting things to report regarding the file formats being used by Excel 2007.

In addition to the default Open XML file format (.xlsx) that has been added to Office 2007, there is also an additional format called the Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook (.xlsxm) which contains binary-only data not specified in the ECMA standard. There is also an all-new binary-only format (.xlsb), which Microsoft says provides "optimal performance and backward compatibility" (wasn’t that the point of Open XML?).

The “Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook” option saves as an “xlsxm” extension. It is OOXML plus proprietary Microsoft extensions. These extensions, in the form of binary blob called vbaProject.bin, represent the source code of the macros. This part of the format is not described in the OOXML specification. It does not appear to be a compiled version of the macro. I could reload the document in Excel and restore the original text of my macro, including whitespace and comments. So source code appears to be stored, but in an opaque format that defied my attempts at deciphering it.

(What’s so hard about storing a macro, guys? It’s frickin’ text. How could you you[sic] screw it up? )

This has some interesting consequences. It is effectively a container for source code that not only requires Office to run it, but requires Office to even read it. So you could have your intellectual property in the form of extensive macros that you have written, and if Microsoft one day decides that your copy of Office is not “genuine” you could effectively be locked out of your own source code.

There is also a method to add in additional file formats for saving to, including PDF and Microsoft’s XPS, but there is no native ODF support yet.

Overall, Rob’s experience was a bit buggy, and there was an incident where trying to save to Open XML prompted a message about incompatible features (so much for backward compatibility, hey try the new binary-only format…).

I wonder how Novell OpenOffice.org’s VBA support is going to handle the new binary information in the macro-enabled workbook? Still better than the next MS Office for Mac, I suppose.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

5 Comments

  1. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    January 23, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Gravatar

    I am a new visitor. While I find your blog instructive (subscribed), I’d like to shed some light on a confusion here.

    VBA projects are encoded in bin parts in the new Office 2007 file formats, whether it’s Word, Excel or Powerpoint. Those parts are the actual VBA streams that we find in older versions of the corresponding applications. That’s a direct extraction.

    There are other binary parts, such as printer settings parts and OLE objects parts.

    The new XLSB file format pushes XLSM even further by making the important XML parts encoded in much the same way than BIFF used to do with older versions. Actually, those bin parts are christened as BIFF12. BIFF12 is undocumented right now.

    I have written an article on the subject here :
    http://www.codeproject.com/useritems/office2007bin.asp

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 23, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Gravatar

    Thank you for the information, Stephane. For the record, I notice that you are among the Open XML team members:

    http://openxmldeveloper.org/members/Stephane+Rodriguez.aspx

    Also, yesterday’s news indicate that Microsoft pays people to “bring balance” to content which speaks about Open XML. I just hope you are not being paid to post here.

    In any event, your comment does not invalidate the fact that Open XML has undocumented, binary parts.

  3. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    January 23, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Gravatar

    If you think I may be a paid shill, take a look at this : http://xlsgen.arstdesign.com/special/OOXML_objections.pdf

    (this is on my website)

    The OOXML specs are so bad I had to develop my own tool, called “diffopc”, to make any progress in my product (an Excel file format component which recently added partial support for Excel 2007).

  4. shane said,

    January 23, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Gravatar

    Thank you, Stephane. We’ve had a huge influx of trolling as of the last few days, and perhaps are a bit on edge. There is no doubt from your first linked article (I didn’t read the pdf yet) that you are well versed in the OOXML spec.

    I love the fact that we do have discussions on the site, and want to encourage further discussion and corrections. I want our arguments to withstand scrutiny, and encourage any readers to question or comment on our premises.

    Let’s all just keep it mature, and there is no reason to post using pseudonyms folks, just type in "anonymous" or "i disagree". I still do not intend to censor any non-spam comments, nor shut down commenting after x number of days on an article, since many are still actively being viewed and linked to.

  5. Michael said,

    September 12, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks for the nice post!

What Else is New


  1. Links 4/5/2015: Many New Releases, Ubuntu Drone

    Links for the day



  2. Misplaced Focus on Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers' Defence of Trolls

    Observations about media coverage and reactions to the focus on patent trolls, which distracts from desperately-needed reform around patent scope



  3. PATENT Act a 'Reform' for Big Corporations, Hence Does Not Address the Core Issues, Including Patent Scope and Massive Patent Aggressors

    Big corporations, including some of the biggest patent aggressors out there, successfully lobbied for what has essentially become a bipartisan bill to eliminate the thorn in their side



  4. Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

    Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft's proprietary software as openness and nicety



  5. Microsoft Kills Netscape Again, This Time Removing It From the History Books

    Microsoft's embarrassing crimes against Netscape -- the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft -- virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to 'disappear'



  6. Microsoft India's Unofficial 'Branch' Infosys is Torturing the Meaning of Open Source Software

    Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of 'Open Source' and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs



  7. Microsoft Windows is Dying, British Government Should Spend No More Money on It

    Time for the Establishment in the UK to abandon the out-of-support Windows XP (from 2001) and join the next generation of computing, which increasingly revolves around GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, supported by truly British companies



  8. IRC Proceedings: April 5th - May 2nd, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  9. Links 3/5/2015: Black Lab 6.5 RC2

    Links for the day



  10. Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  11. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  12. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  14. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  15. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  16. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  17. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  18. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  19. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  20. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  21. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  22. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  23. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  24. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  26. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  27. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  28. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  29. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software



  30. The Unethical Business of Selling Fear of Free/Libre Software Bugs (Black Duck, Sonatype, and Symantec)

    The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts