My friend and colleague, Eric White, recently posted a superb write up on his blog about a new feature in SharePoint Server 2010Word Automation Services. Word Automation Services is a new service application included with SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise that provides document conversion capability that can scale to enterprise demand. One shorthand way to think of Word Automation Services is as the Word client application’s “Save As” capability brought to the server. Using Word Automation Services, you can “convert” any document that the Word client application can “Save As” to but without requiring the Word client application to run on the server. Eric sums it up well,

“There are some tasks that are difficult using the Open XML SDK, such as repagination, conversion to other document formats such as PDF, or updating of the table of contents, fields, and other dynamic content in documents. Word Automation Services is a new feature of SharePoint 2010 that can help in these scenarios. It is a shared service that provides unattended, server-side conversion of documents into other formats, as well as some other essential pieces of functionality. It was designed from the outset to work on servers, and can process high volumes of documents in a reliable and predictable fashion.”

Besides the information Eric has provided in his post, developer-related content for Word Automation Services is also being made available in the SharePoint Server 2010 Software Development Kit Beta documentation. The SDK includes general conceptual information and a comprehensive class library for Word Automation services. Included in the final version of the SDK documentation are several walkthroughs that provide usable examples of how to use the Word Automation Services API to perform document conversions.

Look for more Word Automation Services developer-oriented content from myself, Eric White, and others at the release of SharePoint Server 2010 and beyond!