Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Microsoft Office 2013 PDF / Open XML Support

Office 2013 to Finally Support Editable PDFs and Full OpenXML Standards

Open XML : FULL Support

Yes, the keyword of interest here is full. Since MS Office 2007, Microsoft has supported partial Open XML support — a la Transitional Open XML — which still allowed use of "legacy features" within those documents. Well, those transitionally-allowed legacy aspects essentially made true office-software-suite-neutral documents impossible, since proprietary functionality remained in this otherwise "open" standard.

Office 2007 could read such files, but it was not until Office 2010 before you could write these transitional Open XML formats. But, starting with Microsoft Office 2013, you will finally be able to read, edit, and write true strict Open XML document formats. It is about time! I have encountered files from Open Office / LibreOffice that I just could not fully interact with using just MS Word as I would have liked to.

Open PDF files as editable Word documents!

Woohoo! This one is a huge feature for me — the ability to open and edit the contents of PDF files (i.e., Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format), and then save my changes as a Word document (or save again as PDF), is something I have wanted for a long, long time.

This ability to work more easily with PDF files from within Word 2013 may just be the feature that makes me upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013 when I was otherwise not planning to do so! I currently go through many extra steps to accomplish an approximation of this forthcoming capability, and having such support built into Office will be a big time saver for me.

Microsoft refers to this new feature as "PDF Reflow" and describes it as follows in this blog posting:
“With this functionality, you can transform your PDFs back into fully editable Word documents, rehydrating headings, bulleted/numbered lists, tables, footnotes, etc. by analyzing the contents of the PDF file.” The goal is not to make Word into a PDF reader or PDF editor. The goal is to help you to bring the contents of PDF files back into an editable format using Word 2013.

Microsoft Office File Format Support — PDF, ODF, Open XML

The following table is courtesy of Microsoft (from the above referenced blog posting). I like this visual chart / table / graphic for how simple it is to understand what each version of Office supports when it comes to interchangeability / interoperability by way of standard file formats.

Office 2003 Office 2007 Office 2010 The New Office
("Office 2013")
Binary format
(.doc, .xls, .ppt)
Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save
Open XML
Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save
Strict Open XML Open, Edit Open, Edit, Save
ODF 1.1 Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit, Save Open, Edit
ODF 1.2 Open, Edit, Save
PDF Save Save Open, “Edit”, Save

I am now actually looking forward to Office 2013, which is definitely "news".

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