It's been a long time coming…but a week or so back the Word 2003 SDK finally went live. Back when Office 2003 was at Beta 2 stage there was a Word Content Development Kit (CDK) Beta available with information about developing Word solutions. Some of the information in that original Beta has since been released in other forms, but for around a year Word developers were tantalised by the prospect of the RTM CDK being published 'in about a couple of months'. That CDK has now evolved into a fully fledged SDK, not only with documentation but also a couple of utilities to help the development process. And one of them is a real must-have if you are doing any XML work in Word. The Word 2003 XML Inference Tool fills a vital gap in the Word developer's toolkit. We have had beta versions of this utility knocking around internally for a while and I can highly recommend it.
Here's where it fits in. Right now you can map a custom schema to a Word document. A user can edit the document and save it as 'data only', i.e. save the information in a format that corresponds to the custom schema. You can then go store that in a document management system or RDMS. But what if you want to load that data back into Word? This is where the XSLT Inference Tool fits in. It generates an XSLT stylesheet that transforms the data-only XML document to a WordML document thus enabling full round-tripping of the XML data.