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. Patent Quality and Patent Scope the Unspeakable Taboo at the EPO, as Both Are Guillotined by Benoît Battistelli for the Sake of Money

    The gradual destruction of the European Patent Office (EPO), which was once unanimously regarded as the world's best, by a neo-liberal autocrat from France, Benoît Battistelli



  2. Bristows LLP's Hatred/Disdain of UK/EU Democracy Demonstrated; Says “Not Only Will the Pressure for UK Ratification of the UPC Agreement Continue, But a Decision is Wanted Within Weeks.”

    Without even consulting the British public or the European public (both of whom would be severely harmed by the UPC), the flag bearers of the UPC continue to bamboozle and then pressure politicians, public servants and nontechnical representatives



  3. Released Late on a Friday, EPO Social 'Study' (Battistelli-Commissioned Propaganda) Attempts to Blame Staff for Everything

    The longstanding propaganda campaign (framing staff as happy or framing unhappy staff as a disgruntled minority) is out and the timing of the release is suspicious to say the least



  4. Links 23/9/2016: Latest Microsoft and Lenovo Spin (Now in ‘Damage Control’ Mode)

    Links for the day



  5. White Male-Dominated EPO Management Sinks to New Lows, Again

    Benoît Battistelli continues to make the EPO look like Europe's biggest laughing stock by attempting to tackle issues with corny photo ops rather than real change (like SUEPO recognition, diverse hiring, improved patent quality, and cessation of sheer abuses)



  6. Journalism 102: Do Not Become Like 'Managing IP' or IAM 'Magazine' (the Megaphones of the EPO’s Management)

    Another look at convergence between media and the EPO, which is spending virtually millions of Euros literally buying the media and ensuring that the EPO's abuses are scarcely covered (if ever mentioned at all)



  7. Journalism 101: Do Not Believe Anything That Benoît Battistelli and the EPO's Management Say (Also Don't Fall for the UPC Hype)

    A survey/review (or an overview) of recent articles about the EPO and why they're wrong (mostly because they parrot the official lies from Battistelli's department)



  8. Patent Law Firms, David Kappos, and IAM 'Magazine' Still Shelter Software Patents by Cherry-Picking and Lobbying

    Amid the gradual collapse of software patents in the United States there are disingenuous efforts to bring them back or maintain a perception that these patents are still potent



  9. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Going Places and Suing Microsoft Rivals, Microsoft Wants More 'Linux Patent Tax'

    Microsoft-connected patent trolls like Larry Horn's MobileMedia are still attacking Microsoft rivals and Microsoft wants more money from Korea, after it attacked Linux with software patents over there (notably Samsung and LG)



  10. Links 22/9/2016: Linux Professional Institute Redesign, Red Hat Upgraded

    Links for the day



  11. Links 22/9/2016: Red Hat's Latest Results, GNOME 3.22 Released

    Links for the day



  12. The Patent Law Firms in the US Relentlessly Lobby for Software Patents Resurgence by Placing Emphasis Only on Rare Outcomes

    Decisions against software patents continue to be ignored or intentionally overlooked by patent law firms, which instead saturate the media with the few cases where courts unexpectedly rule in favour of software patents



  13. Links 21/9/2016: Lenovo Helps Microsoft Block GNU/Linux Installations

    Links for the day



  14. Like Big Tobacco Lobbyists, Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Just Chronically Lying and Manipulating Politicians With Their Lies

    Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC continue to meddle in politics and mislead the public (through the press) about patent quality as well the UPC, which is now in effect sunk inside the ashtray of history



  15. The EPO's 'Investigative' Function is Totally Out of Control and Continues to Get Bigger, Whitewashed by So-called 'Review'

    An update on the situation which still causes great unrest at the European Patent Office (EPO), namely abuse of staff by the so-called Investigative Unit (Eponia's equivalent of unaccountable secret services)



  16. Microsoft and Patent Law Firms in the United States Can't Stop Writing About McRo in a Coordinated Push to Resurrect Software Patents

    Microsoft is pursuing more Linux 'patent tax' (using software patents) and patent law firms are preoccupied flooding the media with their shameless self-promotion which is also software patents promotion



  17. For Abuse Like Plagiarism and Malpractice, the US Patent System is Still World Champion

    Low patent quality, abusive litigation (e.g. by patent trolls) and various other elements that globally discredit the USPTO are only symptoms of a wider problem, which is a greedy system motivated by neo-liberal values rather than professionalism and servitude



  18. Links 20/9/2016: GNOME 3.22 Preview, Absolute 14.2 Released

    Links for the day



  19. Links 19/9/2016: Linux 4.8 RC7, KDevelop 5.0.1

    Links for the day



  20. Patents Roundup: Disclosure Requirements, Mobile Patents, Patent Lawyers' Plagiarism, USPTO Getting Sued, and Corporate Domination of the Patent System

    The unwanted elements of the patent system (as it stands at present) illuminated by very recent news and patent court cases



  21. With or Without the UPC (Which Will Probably Never Happen) Battistelli is Crushing the EPO and Ejects Experienced Staff, a Future Without Examination Possible

    A pessimistic but probably realistic take on what is happening at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is undergoing a silent transformation so wide-ranging that stakeholders deserve to know about it



  22. When EPO Liar-in-Chief Benoît Battistelli Defamed His Staff in Parliament, Comparing Them to Nazis and Criminals

    A reminder of the audacity of Benoît Battistelli, who in his capacity as a politician -- a problem in its own right -- slanders EPO staff



  23. After McRO v Namco Case (at CAFC) the Patent Microcosm Works Overtime to Produce Pro-Software Patents Propaganda, Smear the Supreme Court

    Increasingly desperate to convince people to pursue software patents and/or use their software patents to initiate growingly risky lawsuits (high risk of losing), the patent microcosm hugs McRO v Namco while distorting the complete record of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on this subject



  24. Poor Quality Control at the US Patent Office Gives Birth to 'Unpatent' and Gives a Voice to Critics

    The USPTO must up its game on patent quality (not relying on PTAB and the courts correcting its errors after the grants) or face growing backlash that tarnishes its public image



  25. Patent Trial and Appeal Board Under Attack by Law Firms, Which Will Soon Infiltrate It in the Form of 'Bar Association'

    The vultures that are patent law firms keep circling around PTAB and hoping to destroy it, if not from the outside then from the inside, potentially regressing and ruining great progress for US patent quality since Mayo and Alice



  26. EPO President Benoît Battistelli and Team UPC Are Still Lying, Don't Believe a Word They Say

    A rather bulky rebuttal to some of the latest misleading statements from EPO management and law firms that wish to expand/advance their own careers at the expense of the integrity of the European patent system



  27. Links 18/9/2016: Emacs 25.1, Slackel 6.0.7

    Links for the day



  28. Links 17/9/2016: Debian 8.6 Released, More Microsoft Layoffs and Dead Products

    Links for the day



  29. Links 16/9/2016: Uber Uses GNU/Linux, Dell's New Laptops

    Links for the day



  30. Battistelli is Lying About Patent Quality While It Continues to Nosedive at the EPO as Part of His Neo-liberal 'Production' Strategy

    Battistelli, who tries to automate and streamline everything so as to maximise patent grants rather than examine applications properly, is making incredible claims that will almost certainly backfire on him


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