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Create simple Word 2007 documents without needing Word 2007 installed

, 31 Jul 2006 CPOL
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A simple class library that enables the creation of Word 2007 documents, packaged in the Word 2007 specifications, without requiring a copy of Word 2007 to be installed

Resulting document displayed in Word 2007

Introduction

Word 2007 is becoming quite widespread even before becoming a production release. There have been over 3 million downloads of Beta 2 already as at July 2007. This article demonstartes a system for creating simple Word 2007 documents based solely on the packaging and XML formats. This can run on the desktop or a server and requires no installation of Word.

Background

It is quite common to see articles talking about using Word on a server to create or manipulate Microsoft Word documents. Often these applications are only tested on a developers machine, as they will fail in a production environment, as this usually requires running multiple threads. Only one instance of Word can run at a time, so the app must maintain a queue, and process as Word becomes free. This is especially problematic in a web server environment.

Add to this the fact that many System Administrators will either not install Word on a server, or require an in depth business case to be provided, it is often not as simple as it could be.

Using the code

A Word 2007 document usually has the extension .docx There are exceptions for macro enabled documents, templates etc. For this article we will only look at .docx files. This is actually a group of files and folders zipped up. By opening the file file with a zipping application you will see a structure like this:

Folder structure of a word document

This is a very simple word document, and the structure can get a lot more complex. The text content of the word document is found in the word\document.xml file.

The code will create the package, but takes a very simple approach, creating the word\document.xml file, and adding a standard set of files for all the auxilliary files.

DocumentMaker supports a very limited subset of the Word object model, The only styles supported in this limited version are:

  • Heading 1
  • Heading 2
  • Heading 3
  • Paragraphs
  • Bold, italic and underlined text

We begin by creating a Document object. This is quite similar to the Document Object model that you might use in a standard Word application.

// The document object represents the word document, without the Word 2007 <BR>// packaging
Document doc = new Document();

Now we can add objects that derive from Paragraph to the Paragraphs collection.

doc.Paragraphs.Add(new Heading1("Document maker"));

A paragraph contains only plain text. If formatted text is required, then a Run object is required, or alternatively, an overloaded version of the Paragraph constructor allows for a formatting style to be specified. A Run represents a contiguous piece of text with one style applied to it. If the text requires mixed styling, i.e. some text with a bold word in the middle of it, then separate Runs can be added to the Paragraph object.

// Add a paragraph that is italic, using an overloaded constructor
doc.Paragraphs.Add(new Paragraph("By Mark Focas, July 2006", 
        TextFormats.Format.Italic));

// Or Create a Paragraph object and add Runs ro it.
Paragraph p=new Paragraph();
p.Runs.Add(new Run("Text can have multiple format styles, they can be "));
p.Runs.Add(new Run("bold and italic", 
        TextFormats.Format.Bold | TextFormats.Format.Italic));
doc.Paragraphs.Add(p);

Note how the Run objects can be or ed together to create combinations

p.Runs.Add(new Run("bold and italic", 
        TextFormats.Format.Bold | TextFormats.Format.Italic));

Once the document has been created, it needs to be packaged to be of any use. For maximum flexibility, DocumentMaker returns a Stream object

// A document is of little use unless pacakged in the Word 2007 <BR>// Packaging format
DocumentPackager dp = new DocumentPackager();
Stream s= dp.Package(doc);

There are not many objects in the solution, most of them have been described above.

Class diagram for DocumentMaker

Points of Interest

The Microsoft XML model for Word appears complex, but in some ways is quite simple. Every object is a paragraph, all headings, list items etc. This makes it extremely simple to generate word documents, but extremely complex to process using XSLT. The approach I took with the Run object is based on the approach the Word XML format takes.

I remain completely neutral about, and do not wish to enter in any debate on whether Word XML is better that Open Document Language or vice versa. This article should not be viewed as claiming Microsoft Word is any better or worse than Open Office. It could easily be adapted to output Open Office format if you require that.

Having said that, I am rather disappointed that Microsoft are intending to charge for downloads of Office 2007 beta 2 from August.

History

30 July 2006 - Version 1.0.0

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Mark Focas
Web Developer
Australia Australia
Working in the educational arena, automating publishing processes, developing a single XML source, multiple output format publishing solution for a distributed environment
http://blog.focas.net.au

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionDocati PinmemberRobert te Kaat12-Jun-14 4:54 
QuestionWord 2010 Pinmembereduvolp17-Oct-12 7:33 
QuestionMessage Automatically Removed PinmemberProgramminfree26-Jul-12 10:27 
GeneralRe: Good one! ByteScout Document SDK is another alternative PinmemberOramo Blue8-Jan-14 0:34 
GeneralGreat! Pinmemberrlejason24-Aug-10 20:26 
QuestionGood. How to add image? PinmemberDemaker31-Mar-10 4:24 
GeneralError message It appears that no class was specified as the ResourceManager Pinmemberfhunth26-Mar-10 11:23 
GeneralRe: Error message It appears that no class was specified as the ResourceManager PinmemberMark Focas26-Mar-10 14:15 
QuestionLicense? PinmemberMember 59723252-Mar-09 3:40 
AnswerRe: License? PinmemberMark Focas2-Mar-09 12:39 
GeneralRe: License? Pinmemberaugust.rydberg7-May-09 8:58 
QuestionGreat work on this! One question about Versions of Word Pinmemberola halvorsen24-Feb-09 0:06 
AnswerRe: Great work on this! One question about Versions of Word PinmemberMark Focas2-Mar-09 12:33 
Questionreally! what about table support ? Pinmemberpita20003-Feb-09 10:07 
AnswerRe: really! what about table support ? PinmemberMark Focas2-Mar-09 12:34 
Questiontable support? PinmemberUnruled Boy30-Dec-08 20:39 
AnswerRe: table support? PinmemberRobert Hutch15-Feb-12 2:05 
QuestionWhat to do if I want Times New Roman? Pinmemberd00_ape2-Jan-08 0:10 
QuestionAbout vb Pinmemberakilandam28-Nov-07 23:07 
GeneralAdded your article reference PinmemberPuneDotNet28-Oct-07 21:02 
GeneralGood Work PinmemberHiran Das22-Aug-07 23:55 
QuestionHow to insert image? Pinmembertushar_vaja7-Aug-07 20:04 
AnswerRe: How to insert image? PinmemberMark Focas8-Aug-07 3:14 
QuestionGOOD!! how can I insert a header?? Pinmemberhemaral30-Jul-07 10:01 
AnswerRe: GOOD!! how can I insert a header?? PinmemberMark Focas8-Aug-07 3:16 

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