Since I woke up this morning I was thinking how XML has changed the information systems world. I remembered that when I was in college, I had a client-server teacher who started talking about this new thing called XML and his advice was: “you should explore this baby since it’s going to change the world someday.”
Since the late 90s, the minds of the software development world adopted XML and designed products that included support and integration for XML. The Microsoft Office team decided as well to integrate XML and to start the XML in Office story. Office 2000 and Office XP were the XML in Office beginners, with these versions you were able to open and save XML files. XML started to gain power and popularity and became the interoperability standard, the lingua franca of all systems. Office 2003 then expanded the possibilities of working with XML and products such as Word, Excel, Access, and InfoPath offered a deeper integration with XML. With Office 2003 you can do more than save and open files, among other things, you can create XML mappings in Excel, transform Word documents into XSL-FO format, turn user input into XML using InfoPath, and allow developers to create their own XML schema structure representing information within Office 2003 programs. The Office 12 version will expand even more the possibilities for the XML in Office story; for starters, all documents will have open XML-based file formats.
Here are my recommended steps and pointers to become a part of the XML in Office story:
For everyone, read books, explore blogs and newsgroups, and play around with Office and XML. Try to solve a business or home problem using what you learned; you will be surprised of the power of XML in Office.