4 Ways to Turn Microsoft Word into an XML Editor

Want to use Microsoft Word as an XML Editor? XML (Extensible Markup Language) is made up of a number of user defined tags which are used to store and transport data. When it comes to writing XML most people would open their favourite XML editor or a text editor but have would not have considered using Microsoft Word.Those with Microsoft Office 2003 or a newer version can now use Microsoft Word as an XML editing tool. It should be noted that it is far from perfect and has a number of limitations but it is ideal for those who require a simple tool for writing basic XML.

Here are my top 4 tips to get you started on writing XML:

1. Opening and Saving XML files

No doubt anyone who has used Microsoft Word will be familiar with opening and saving a standard Doc or DOCX file. Opening and saving an XML file is not much different, you simply need to remember to tell Microsoft Word that you are writing an XML file.

Follow the steps below:

  • Click the File tab
  • Select Save as
  • From the Window that appears select Word XML Document
  • Microsoft Word now knows that you are writing XML.

 

XML files are opened in the same way as how normal files are opened however, if you have many files in one folder, it can be a nuisance to browse through all your files to find your XML file.

FYI: When opening a file, select XML Files from the File type drop down list. This will filter all your files and only show files saved as XML.

2. Open XML

Files saved in Word as XML are part of the new Open XML 2.0 which Microsoft introduced recently. This has a number of benefits such as improving security and using zip compression technology to make file sizes up to 75% smaller but the key benefit as far as XML is concerned is that it increases interoperability by allowing Word documents to be saved as XML which can then be freely viewed by anyone. Office 2010 comes with the new Open XML 2.0 SDK preloaded however, those using the older versions may have the older Open XML SDK 1.0 and would need to download the latest version of Open XML from the Microsoft website.

3. XML Schemas

XML Schemas provide a number of benefits but the primary benefit in relating to Microsoft Word is that it allows some form of validation for XML content. A small number of Schemas are available from the Microsoft website which you would need to download and install prior to using them on Microsoft Word. Once the Schema has been installed successfully, it can be put into action by following the a few simple steps:

  • Click on the Files tab
  • Click on Options and then on add-ins
  • Select XML Schemas on the Manage drop down list and then press go
  • Choose the Schema of your choice which you installed earlier and press Add Schema.

There are also other options such as XML Expansion Packs which allow additional functionality and those of you who are more familiar with web design will notice that you also have some features for CSS. This is straying from the topic somewhat but it does show how Microsoft are trying to make Microsoft Word do more rather than improving its existing functionality.

4. Custom XML mapping

Microsoft Office 2007 saw a new feature in the form of Custom XML mapping however a recent United States court ruling has led to Microsoft having to remove this newly added feature from their 2010 range although previous versions have not been affected. Word 2010 will still open a file which contains custom XML Mapping but will not display the parts which contain this feature.