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Word 2007: Overview of XML

Word 2007: Overview of XML

Now, there’s no doubt you’ve been working in Word 2007 for some time now. Well, I hope so, anyway. You probably wouldn’t be watching a Word 2007 Advanced course if you haven’t been using the program.

So, in this time, you may have noticed the new file extension. The default Word 2007 file name extensions has an “x” at the end. This was your first clue that something is different – very different with the way files are saved.

That small “x” at the end of your file name extensions is what makes Word 2007 files XML-compatible.

About XML

So, since your files are saving in this way, it’s probably a good idea for you to get to know XML. Now, I’m not saying you have to do anything with it, yet. But, it will help you as you work with sharing with Word files with other users to understand XML.

And, to understand XML is simply a matter of thinking about marking up. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. If you’ve ever had a teacher correct a paper with a big, red pen, you’ve seen marking up in action. And, in computer terms, if you’ve ever used the Track Changes feature either in Excel or Word, you’ve used another form of marking up.

Well, in terms of XML, Word is “marking up” your data. But, instead of telling other computers what’s wrong with the data, Word’s use of XML tells other computers what’s right.

In fact, and this may be showing my age a little, if you’ve ever used WordPerfect 5.1 (Remember? Big Blue Screen & Reveal Codes?), you’ve seen computer markup in action. In the good ‘ol days of word processing, we used Reveal Codes to tell WordPerfect where to make text Bold or Italic.

XML is WordPerfect’s Reveal Codes on steroids.

In any case, behind the scenes, Word is creating the XML, or markup language, for your data by storing tags or code that help other programs to read your data and display it properly. And, XML is platform-independent, meaning that any program built to use XML (like Excel), can read and process your XML data.

And, using XML format provides a great deal of benefit (at least to your IT people).

     
  • XML files are compacted and take up less space using a zip function.
     
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  • XML files have improve damaged-file recovery. This means if you have a portion of a file that becomes corrupt, the remainder of the file is still accessible.
     
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  • XML files offer more control over personal information. Personal information is typically stored in the structure of the document and with XML, that information can easily be removed before a file is shared.
     

About Schemas

So, now that you know the overall purpose of XML, let’s talk about a few specifics. To really get into XML, you should understand schemas.

The schema file is a type of XML file that holds all those rules for what can and cannot be in an XML file. And, they typically have an .xsd extension (as opposed to a normal .xml extension that XML data files use).

Let’s go back to my WordPerfect 5.1 example – the XML file is the text and the XSD file is the Reveal Codes on steroids. An XSD file contains information like what type of data should go in a document.

Typically, you can get a company schema created by your IT Department to attach to your XML files.