VSTO & .NET & Excel

November 9, 2007

Office Open XML – OOXML

Filed under: .NET & Excel, VSTO & Excel — Dennis M Wallentin @ 11:50 am

One of the items on my To-do list is to learn more about RegExpression. Another item is Office Open XML (OOXML). Whenever I decide to teach me more about a specific topic I usually start to “google” to locate relevant online resources. If the subject is very interesting I also try to locate books on the subject as I still like to read printed books.

The file format XML has been in focus for the last couple of years. The main reason is due to its platforms independence. Of course, whenever a “new kid is in town” it turns quickly to be a buzzword and XML is no exception.

In order to understand and to work with Office Open XML it requires that we got the basic knowledge of XML.

Open XML has been widely discussed for the last couple of months. Mainly because of MSFT’s intention to make it to an ISO standard file format. Except for that, it’s the XML file format to work with MS Office’s files (with and without MS Office suite) which also explain why it’s named as Office Open XML or for short OOXML. 

In the end of 2005 I read the book “Office 2003 XML” from O’Reilly which helped me to get a kick start with what Excel 2003 can do. Important to know is that it’s not the same file format which Excel 2007 use but Excel 2007 can read the older XML file format.

Most Office users view the Office suite as tool set to get the work done. Since this is the primarily task with Office it’s difficult to disagree on that. But when discussing the OOXML file format we need to view Office as general-purpose interfaces to information.

OOXML files can be created without Excel and other platforms like Visual Studio.NET, SQL Server, SharePoint Server et al as well as other non-MSFT platforms & tools can read and update OOXML files. In this context the real power of the OOXML file format is exposed and the OOXML files become more of ‘containers’ for information then just Excel’s files.

Before moving on with the online resources I would like to highlight Stephane Rodriquez excellent work. He is ‘the man’ when it comes to Excel’s file formats and I’m very impressed by his strong commitment to the field. 

Check out the following excellent work by Stephane:

At present I have found the following online resources for OOXML to be of high interest:

I will  get back on the subject next year but right now I just want to learn more about it. 

Does anyone else have information about additional useful online resources and perhaps about other books about OOXML? 

Kind regards,



  1. Check out Brian Jones’s blog about the file formats and XML in Office.

    Comment by tfsjohan — November 9, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  2. Hej Johan,

    Thanks for the reminder. I had the link to his blog but did not manage to include it in the original list for this blogpost.

    Kind regards,

    Comment by Dennis Wallentin — November 9, 2007 @ 9:21 pm

  3. Everyone seems completely focused on the tools for working with ooxml but the definitions for the actual wml.xsd XML schema itself are shockingly poor – ECMA and schemacentral tell you all the nodes but not what they relate to. For example it’s all very well to know that tblLayout can be “fixed” or “auto”, but what does that mean, what values determine the “fixed” state if selected, etc etc – Open standard shmandard, it’s a farce. With all the resources at their disposal, if Microsoft actually gave a damn about making it truly open they could document the schema properly in a heart beat. Come on Microsoft – you’ve forced this standard on the world now do the right thing and follow through.

    Comment by ricki — December 9, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

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