Chinese XML Format Will Get Microsoft Converter

Microsoft will collaborate with the Chinese government and universities to make a plug-in that will let users read and save documents written in two different XML file formats.

China is developing its own XML format, Uniform Office Format (UOF), a variation that's used in applications such as RedOffice, a productivity suite forked from for the Chinese market. China's UOF group is headed by the Chinese Office Software Work Group and the Ministry of Information Industry.

The plug-in will enable translation with Office Open XML (OOXML), Microsoft's version of XML that the company is pushing to become a uniformly used standard, said Jean Paoli, Microsoft's manager of interoperability and XML architecture.

China is working on UOF to cater to needs of the local market and local productivity software. For example, tags can be written in Chinese, Paoli said. "That's the goal of the Chinese government, and we respect that," he said.

Five entities will work on the translator, including Microsoft; Beihang University, also known as the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Litsoft, part of Lenovo Group; Tsinghua University; and the Beijing Information Technology Institute.

The first version of the UOF translation tool will be released on July 30 under the Berkeley Software Distribution license and posted on Sourceforge, the popular open-source application development site, Paoli said. It should be released in January 2008, and will work with Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007.

In a related development, Microsoft said two beta plug-ins are now available that translate PowerPoint and Excel documents to the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and vice versa. The plug-ins work for the Windows XP 2003 and 2007 versions of Excel and PowerPoint. The first translator for Word and ODF was released in February and is now being refined, Paoli said.

Microsoft agreed last July to support open-source development projects that enable compatibility with ODF, which is used in open-source productivity suites such as

However, the company has continued to push its own OOXML format, which the ECMA International standards body approved in December. The International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission are now considering whether they will also support OOXML as a standard.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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