I’m just enough of a nerd to understand Microsoft’s new “Save to XML” feature but not enough of a nerd to totally understand the benefits. Plus, I’m an XML (and Microsoft) skeptic. My limited experience with XML has led me to believe that XML is fine for data, but as a markup language I don’t understand the benefits for content creation, or – as we in the content creation industrial complex say – writing.
Word’s “Save as HTML” feature is useless because of the amount of garbage it puts in your code, why should the XML feature be any different? If what we need is portablitity, why not strip out the garbage and work on backwards compatiblity? Will I be able to use Word to edit Mozilla Open Office files? Do older versions of Word support opening XML files? Do writers even need XML files? Or is this a bone for programmers who are going to look at the code and say exactly what an MS developer said to me the time I had to work in Microsoft Front Page: “Um, please don’t use that tool, the code you’re generating is unusable. Can you get a copy of HomeSite?”
I use Word all the time, first because most of my clients work in Word and secondly because I like the grammar, spelling, and reviewing tools. But I hate the way it thinks I know what I want and I hate that I have to dig around in the tools menus to turn off those features – they should be off by default. Oooo, I especially hate the formatting, SO much! (Every team I’ve worked on at MS has a production specialist whose expertise is in “de-hosing your document” after the formatting goes awry.) If I want to do anything other than create a Word doc, I “Save as *.txt” because that leaves me with just the text, no code, no formatting, no bloated nonsense. The only reason I’ve ever bothered to upgrade is to avoid backwards compatibility issues. Otherwise, I’d still be using Word 97.
I hope that the XML support means that Word will handle docs generated by other tools. Then I can ditch it entirely.