The buzz about XPS has unfortunately faded away during the last year, probably due to the discussions about the Open Xml formats. XPS is still here and will eventually submitted to ISO and proposed as a standard. Windows 7 has of course support for XPS. When you install Windows 7 (note build 6801) you get the Microsoft XPS Document Writer printer which is used to print anything into an XPS document.
I gladly received the news that the Office team announced Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007. Not only for the clients but also for the server products (read SharePoint). First of all it’s the support for the different file formats that I long for (ODF for example) and then there is the Outlook performance – both of these are addressed! XPS and PDF will be supported from scratch – no need to install a free plugin (just as it was in the Office 2007 betas).
Ecma International is currently asking ISO members for comments on the XPS standard. XPS is a new XML based standard for a paginated document format, somewhat like PDF. The current working draft 1.2 is now publicly available for anyone and the technical committee (TC46) of Ecma is requesting comments on the XPS draft. They also provide an issue list with all identified problems and an optional status. XPS has gained a lot of support from hardware/printer manufacturers, such as Konica Minolta and Xerox and software companies such NiXPS and SANATech.
The Swedish Standards Institute has as a result of the chaotic OOXML vote in August changed their rules for participating in technical committees and voting in them. Previously you could just before the vote sign the agreement and participate. From now on you must have been a member of the technical committee at least three weeks ahead of the votes you would like to participate in. The new rules also clearly points out that you only have one vote (I’m still wondering who voted twice…).
ECMA International TC46 has updated the XML Paper Specification documents to working draft version 1.1. The new drafts can be found here as PDF or XPS and the changes can be found here (only as PDF :-) in the issue list. It seems like there are no major changes, mostly minor and editorial changes. I think we can expect some more changes when Office Open Xml has gone through the last steps of the ISO Fast-Track procedure, especially the references to the OPC.
The year of 2007 is about to come to an end, and it has been a really exciting year. First of all I’ve had a great year with my family; my daughters turned four and one years old during 2007 and it’s so wonderful having them around giving me energy. My wife has been home with them the whole year and next year I will take a few months of parental leave and give them my full attention.
The ECMA Technical Committee 45, continues to comment the comments received during the Office Open XML ISO fast-track procedure and have now reached to two thirds of them. The response to comments are only sent to the national bodies The last set of proposed changes contains one major interesting thing; OOXML, or DIS 29500, is proposed to be a multi-part standard, which some national bodies suggested. The parts are: DIS 29500-1: WordProcessingML, SpreadsheetML, PresentationML and SharedML specifications DIS 29500-2: is the Open Packaging Convention, OPC DIS 29500-3: the extensibility specification This is not a big shocker, I imagined it coming, but anyway I’m glad they made the change(proposition to change).
A few links on XML Paper Specification that I stumbled upon the last few days. View XPS documents using Acrobat 8 The XPS Review Blog has an article that Acrobat 8 (8.1 to be precise) can be used to open XPS documents. I have not tried it, since I don’t own Acrobat 8, but it sounds great. Note: it’s not supported in Acrobat Reader 8.1. A new set of XPS tools from SANAtech SANAtech is has released a set of tools for XPS.
The standardization of the XML Paper Specification (XPS) as an ECMA International standard proceeds. Adrian Ford reports that the initial working draft has been published on the ECMA web site. There are no major changes as of now to the original specification by Microsoft, but rather some editorial changes, read the latest draft here (available as PDF or XPS). Lets hope that the ECMA TC has learned from the recent Office Open XML ISO failure and get rid of all these non-issues that most of the OOXML comments really was about.
The NiXPS guys has done it again, they have created an XPS viewer for the Mac platform. Read all about it on their blog. The XPS viewer is a part of their upcoming version of the NiXPS platform, which is a cross-platform application for inspecting and manipulating XPS files. It is currently in beta but I think that this new version with the improved XPS previewing abilities will really boost the application.
The XPS site at www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps just had an extreme makeover, to fit in to the new Microsoft website. It is basically the same content but easier to read and look on. It seems like not all is done yet, some pages still have the old layout, so I expect some more improvements/additions… The most interesting thing is the new XPS Technology Showcase part which contains references of XPS enabled hardware and software.
Since the news broke out that XML Paper Specification was submitted to ECMA International bloggers and authors has gone wild, here is a collection of reflections and reactions on it. Most reactions come from the say no to Microsoft team. Andy Updegrove declares “game over” for open standards and in my opinion; his post and thoughts declares game over for innovation! War and PDF: Microsoft submits XPS to standards body - ars technica
ECMA International has started a technical committee, TC46 - XML Paper Specification (XPS), to “produce a formal standard for an XML-based electronic paper format”. One of the points in the TC46 programme is to consider a submission of the XPS format as an ISO standard. This is really good news to all users of the XPS format and is really vital if XPS is going to be able to compete with the PDF format (which already is an ISO standard, ISO 19005-1:2005/ISO/DIS 32000).
I found an update to the Microsoft XPS Essentials Pack on Microsoft Download Center today. It does not look like an update but on Vista you will get an Windows Update (.msu) package and when I run it it says that it does not apply to my machine. The download link points to the same link that the Essentials Pack was available on before, but it has a new published date (6/19/2007).
NiXPS v1.0 has been released and is now available as a 30 day trial or for purchase. It’s available for the Windows and Mac OS/X platform. NiXPS is an XML Paper Specification, XPS, tool which can be used for inspection and manipulation XPS documents. The main features are extraction of pages, fonts and images from the document, merging of documents and find and replace. The other major feature is an inspection tool for examining the XPS document structure and XML as well as editing the XML.
This part of the Dissecting XPS series will focus on some XML Paper Specification tools that are available as of today. The success of XPS, vs PDF and others, are really depending on the number of supported devices, operating systems and tools. Right now the XPS support is limitied in applications outside the Microsoft Windows sphere, but there are plans for other operating systems. (Maybe Silverlight will boost this with the CoreCLR).
This part of the Dissecting XPS series will introduce the XPS parts of the Microsoft.NET 3.0 framework and where you should look to get started creating XML Paper Specification documents. Windows Presentation Foundation, WPF The XPS classes is a part of the Windows Presentation Foundation, WPF, and is found under the System.Windows.Xps namespace. The Open Packaging Convention classes, used to manipulate the packages is found under the System.IO.Packaging namespace. To get you started with creating XPS documents with the .
Microsoft Expression Design, version 1.0 is now available for a 60 days trial download, was one product I had big hopes for during the CTP cycle, but now it’s just a simple vector editor. Ok, I’ve said this before and this is not what this post is about… If you now use Design to create images and drawings you have the excellent option of saving or exporting your file in numerous formats other than the Expression Design format; such as GIF, JPEG, PNG, Photoshop format etc.
One of the features of XML Paper Specification, XPS, is the light-weight reader approach and the portable format which Adobe have had the major market share for, and still has, with the PDF format. We all like the approach with having some kind of document format that can be sent to anyone without worrying that they don’t have a reader for the document. I like that there now are competition on this market, even though I really think that Microsoft with XPS have a long road ahead until they reach an acceptable level of XPS users, even with an XPS reader built in to Windows Vista.
Today I recieved an e-mail from the Swedish Standards Institute, SIS, containing the proposal for the Office Open XML as an ISO standard (ISO/IEC DIS 29500). Office Open XML is today an ECMA standard, TC-45, and ECMA has submitted the standard to the ISO fast-track process Office Open XML. The fast-track means that it can be an international standard by this August, read more on the fast-track process in this post by Brian Jones.
The sixth part of the Dissecting XPS series is here and this time we will, finally, look at some code for reading XML Paper Specification , XPS, files. I will in the following sample not use the Microsoft.NET 3.0 Framework, which has built-in functionality for reading and writing XPS files . Instead I will do it using .NET 2.0 (you can try it in .NET 1.1 if you like) and an excellent ZIP library called #ziplib .
Microsoft has released version 1.0 of the XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack. The pack is available for Windows Vista or Windows XP and Windows 2003 Server (both 32 bit and 64 bit versions is available). XPS Essentials Pack contains An XPS viewer called XPS Viewer EP - for reading XPS files An XPS Document writer - for printing to an XPS file Filters for previewing (IPreview) and searching (IFilter) XPS files Windows Shell handlers, for Windows Explorer integration and thumbnails Note: On Windows Vista Internet Explorer will still be the default viewer for XPS files.
This is the fith part of the Dissecting XPS series and will focus on the Xml Paper Specification, XPS, document properties. Core Properties The properties used in an XPS document are stored in the Core Properties Part, specified in the Open Packaging Conventions, OPC . The Part is located by reading the [Content_Types].xml file and finding the content type application/vnd.openxmlformats-package.core-properties+xml. A document should have one Core Properties part, so there is no requirement to have one but having serveral indicates an invalid package.
This part in the Dissecting XPS series will take off were we ended part 3, by looking into how the actual content is marked up. The content is contained in the FixedPage element and it is marked up by three different elements the Path element which specified a geometry filled with a brush the Glyphs element which represents text the Canvas element which groups elements together The Path element The Path element is used to specify a geometry shape and optionally fill it using a brush.
This is the third part in the Dissecting XPS Series and this episode will focus on the Fixed Document parts of an XPS document. The previous part described how an XPS document is packed into a package and how we could find the actual document within it. FixedDocument and PageContent The FixedDocument element  is the part of the XPS document which contains the actual pages, which are represented as PageContent elements.
This is the second part of the Dissecting XPS series, last post generally described the XML Paper Specification. This post in the series will describe the XPS file format internals. This will give you an overview of how the XPS files are built from ground and up, instead of reading the XPS Specification which covers 453 pages. The XPS file The XPS file, with the .xps extension, is a ZIP file - called the physical Package, and consists of a number of XML and binary files - called Parts.
I will in a number of posts try to explain the XML Paper Specification document format, XPS format, that has been developed by Microsoft. I think the XPS initiative is nice from a developer and ISV perspective, since creating and reading XPS documents is easy and supported from various environments. This series of XPS articles will start off with an introduction to the XML Paper Specification and then continue with general support and competitors and then of course some nice introduction on how to use XPS in applications.
I previously wrote about that Microsoft is using PDF documents as downloads for product information on microsoft.com, instead of their own XPS format. Yesterday I was happy to see that the Virtual PC site contained a Technical Overview document available for download in XPS format, of course with references to the XPS viewer download and a “What is XPS?" link, and there are no PDF download available. I decided to check back on the some other pages on microsoft.
Microsoft yesterday released the second beta of the Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack 1.0 (build 5715). The pack contains the following: XML Paper Specification (XPS) Viewer XPS metadata and thumbnail handlers for Windows Explorer XPS rich-preview provider XPS IFilter You need Windows XP SP2 or later and the Microsoft Core XML Services 6.0 to be installed on your system.
I have created a free web application that converts an RSS feed into an XPS document at http://www.rss2xps.com/. You are free to use it and test it. The application is in beta and will continously improve over the time. I would appriciate any feedback or feeds that will not just work. Update: if the .com address does not work for, you can use http://www.rss2xps.se/ instead.