[lug] anyone familiar with Word file format issues?

D. Stimits stimits at idcomm.com
Thu Mar 14 03:17:16 MST 2002

rm at fabula.de wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 14, 2002 at 02:00:55AM -0700, D. Stimits wrote:
> > Bear Giles wrote:
> > >
> > > > I'm curious, if I were to write a library that outputs some document
> > > > style as Word, has anyone heard whether MS would try to file a lawsuit
> > > > to stop it (think conversion utility)?
> > >
> > > That could be an interesting court case.  How could you claim that
> > > something infringes on your format if you have never publicly documented
> > > that format?
> >
> > They would ask if I own Word, and if so, did I examine and reverse
> > engineer from it. I really don't want to try and figure out from a
> > binary file what is in it, but if it were published somewhere, I might
> > be interested.
> Hmm, i have at least some printed (read: published by Addison Wessely)
> documentation on older Word binary formats. Send mail if you need a
> reference.

I might not be able to purchase (or find locally) the book, but I'd keep
the name and data handy for when I can afford it again. So yes, a book
name/publisher/author type info on such a book would be good (publisher
already answered, Addison Wessely).

> > I could truthfully say no, but I would probably test the
> > export in an actual Word application. I have no interest in importing
> > Word. If not for recruiters and coaches telling me they hate PDF (they
> > don't seem to be aware that some people don't use windows), I wouldn't
> > care about the issue.
> Urgs! Importing Word format is a mayor pain in ...
> But writing out RTF is pretty simple (if memory serves me right there's a
> perl module in CPAN that will help you) and probably all you want.
> > This could do the job (RTF), but I was hoping for something a bit more
> > sophisticated. Full control over fonts, headers, footers, columnar
> > output, maybe even embedding URL's for references, subscripts,
> > superscripts, tables, embedding images, so on.
> Should be all possible with RTF (with the exception of URLs i've done
> all in RTF).

I've seen references to RTF before, I suspect it is one I can just
search for. I've seen it in the past on MS web sites, due to my prior
job, trying to help someone look up a means of going to Word from a web
page we generated (he did the actual RTF coding). I didn't much care for
the MS web page, it was either vague or detailed in all the wrong ways,
but in this case, only *simple* RTF was used (and I didn't have to do
the actual RTF coding...a bit of good luck).

> > There seem to be apps
> > that import Word, but not many open source apps that export it. Star
> > Office might be a good place, I'm not sure if it is available in source
> > format (fear the download at 56k).
> That's because you want to get people _away_ from Words :-)

I agree, but some people are still stuck in the Word world. If I want
them to pay attention, I can't use PDF unless I also provide another
format like Word or plain text.

D. Stimits, stimits at idcomm.com

>    Ralf
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