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 in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2007/01/11/proprietary-open-xml-extensions-already/

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. [Meme] When the 'Court' Drops

    As the EPO sneakily outsourced courts to American companies and parties in dispute depend on their ISP for “access to justice” there’s a catastrophic impact on the very concept of justice or the right to be heard (sometimes you don’t hear anything and/or cannot be heard)



  2. The EPO's Virtual Injustice and Virtual ('News') Media

    A discussion of this morning's post (part 10 in a series) about the shallow media/blog coverage that followed or accompanied last month's notorious EPO hearing



  3. Links 18/6/2021: LibreOffice 7.2 Beta, Elementary OS 6.0 Beta 2, and Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma” Beta

    Links for the day



  4. The Self-Hosting Song

    Cautionary tales about outsourcing one's systems to companies that could not care less about anyone but themselves



  5. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 17, 2021



  6. [Meme] Swedish Justice

    The EPO‘s patent tribunals have been mostly symbolic under the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regimes; giving them back their autonomy (and removing those who help Battistelli and Campinos attack their autonomy) is the only way to go now



  7. Virtual Injustice -- Part 10: Vapid and Superficial Coverage in the 'IP' Blogosphere

    The media has come under attack by Benoît Battistelli; during the term of António Campinos most of the media critical of the EPO has mostly vanished already; so one needs to look carefully at comments and social control media



  8. Links 18/6/2021: RasPad 3 and Pushing Rust Into the Linux Kernel

    Links for the day



  9. Heli Pihlajamaa Promoting Software Patents to Patent Maximalists

    "Ms Pyjamas" from the EPO is promoting illegal software patents to a bunch of patent zealots (CIPA)



  10. The Lying by Team UPC, Led Again by Kevin Mooney

    Team UPC, or specifically Mr. Mooney, lies to the public about the prospects of the UPC; similarly, EPO and EU officials keep bringing up false claims about the UPC, so while the UPC itself has likely died for good the lies have not



  11. Links 17/6/2021: Cutelyst 3 and Lenovo Move Towards ThinkPad BIOS Configuration From Within Linux

    Links for the day



  12. Too Much Noise and/or Distraction and General Loss of Focus (on the Real and Urgent Issues, Such as the Ongoing Anti-FSF 'Coup')

    The media is full of Microsoft fluff and technical blog posts still focus on the Freenode fiasco, among other things that don't matter all that much; but we certainly need to talk about steps undertaken to undermine the FSF's power because long-term ramifications may be huge



  13. [Meme] The Enlarged Bored People With Presidential Decrees

    The laughable state of the EPO‘s EBA (or EBoA) is rarely commented on anymore, not even in so-called ‘IP’ blogs; maybe they’re just so eager to see patents on everything, even European software patents, so tyrants who destroy the courts (with UPC lobbying and removal of EBA independence) don’t bother them so much anymore



  14. Response to Misinformation From EPO Officials

    Opponents of European software patents are clearly being mischaracterised by EPO officials, who also use meaningless buzzwords to promote such patents; as an aside or footnote that relates to our ongoing series we’re making this quick video, which is days late



  15. [Meme] Tilting the Scales for Software Patents

    Shovelling up lots of patents, even worthless patents such as software patents, dooms the EPO (EPC violations, lawlessness), dooms European professionals, but the wrong people have been put in charge and courts are being intimidated by them



  16. Virtual Injustice -- Part 9: Heli, the EPO's Nordic Ice-Queen

    Team Campinos is full of people who instead of grasping and working to promote innovation are boosting the agenda of litigation (scientists are not being employed)



  17. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, June 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, June 16, 2021



  18. Links 17/6/2021: elementary OS 6 Beta 2 and JingPad Linux Tablet Crowdfunding

    Links for the day



  19. Techrights Statement on IRC

    Freenode needs to explain what the hell happened this week and why communities that make up the network weren't informed or consulted



  20. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 15, 2021



  21. Virtual Injustice -- Part 8: A Well-Connected 'IP' Maximalist

    The EPO‘s lobbying for European software patents goes all the way to the top, including António Campinos and his circle



  22. Links 16/6/2021: Alpine 3.14.0 and DXVK 1.9

    Links for the day



  23. Links 15/6/2021: Debian Installer Bullseye RC 2 and Zink Updates

    Links for the day



  24. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, June 14, 2021



  25. Virtual Injustice -- Part 7: Musical Chairs and Revolving Doors

    Cross pollination in Alicante and Munich serves to show that people aren't picked for their skills and experience; it's like a private club or a clique



  26. Hardly Shocking and Not At All Surprising That Thugs Who Run the EPO Hired External Thugs to Help Them Oppress Aggrieved Staff

    With the EPO's management flooding the bank accounts of aggressive law firms (at our expense) we need to ask serious questions about how such a "Mafia" (what EPO staff calls the management) managed to metastasise inside Europe's second-largest institution and how to remove this "Mafia" as soon as possible (some arrests too are well overdue)



  27. [Meme] There Are No Elections in Mafia-Type Regimes; It's About Family and Friends...

    With no real concept or notion of "elections" (the so-called 'mafia' members choose their successors and colleagues) the EPO's patent examiners clearly need outside intervention, e.g. inquest by the EU authorities (the EPC died and maybe the EPO too; it's unregulated and it grants false patents that harm Europe because the courts don't function, either)



  28. Today's Linux Standing for the Opposite of What Linux Users Stand for

    The so-called 'Linux' Foundation or the "Corporate Linux Foundation" is alienating many of the original users of GNU/Linux and it still insults their intelligence; it's rewriting history, it still distorts the objectives, and before we know Linux will perish and lose momentum because all the excitement associated with the brand will fizzle away



  29. Links 14/6/2021: Kdenlive 21.04.2 and Raspberry Pi 400 Support in Linux

    Links for the day



  30. [Meme] EPO 'Lawfulness' as Crude Budget Wars

    A war of attrition against EPO staff won’t ensure justice is done; it’ll only increase the number of casualties and accomplish nothing good


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

Recent Posts