x4w: Custom XML for Word

Frequently Asked Questions


Based on a U.S. court ruling in June 2009, Microsoft® was ordered to remove patent-infringing XML technology from copies of Word distributed in the United States after January 11, 2010.

How will this affect you?

Versions of Word licensed in the US after January 11, 2010 are set to strip the custom XML out of any document when it is opened. All custom XML in these files is lost.

This presents critical problems for any business processes that use the custom XML capabilities of Word. Data loss will occur when exchanging documents containing custom XML, if affected versions of Word are involved. Applications built around the use of custom XML are rendered unusable, threatening any investment in such technology.

Consider a hyphothetical e-commerce business that uses a Microsoft Office-based inventory and contract management system. This inventory system uses custom XML to handle contract manufacturing, content formatting and integration of Word documents with the inventory database. The business is reliant on this system's ability to send contracts to suppliers and customers.

Unfortunately, any customers or suppliers that use affected versions of Word will no longer be able to use this system. The lack of custom XML will break this business process without warning.

x4w — Power behind the scenes

i4i's x4w software integrates into Word 2007 (and Word 2010) and restores the custom XML in .docx files, raw XML files, and files that contain ISO 29500-defined custom XML. When a user opens a document, x4w catches each file before Word removes the custom XML and:

  1. Identifies all the custom XML tags in the document.
  2. Removes them from the document.
  3. Saves the XML tags and their locations to memory.
  4. Passes the document to Word, which opens the document.
  5. Returns the custom XML to where it should be.
  6. Opens the document to the user.

With the custom XML restored, the user is free to edit the document as needed. Similarly, Word applications that use custom XML can now function normally and continue to deliver business value.

x4w supports both Word 2007 and 2010. However, since Word 2003 does not save custom XML in a manner that is compatible with ISO 29500 standards, x4w does not support Word 2003 documents that were saved as XML files.

x4w Configuration

x4w is delivered as a software library for use with Word 2007 and Word 2010. This allows a solution provider to limit what types of custom XML is processed by x4w. x4w can be limited to a namespace (only preserving custom XML provided by the solution provider) or a specific schema (only preserving custom XML in documents controlled by the named schema).
**At this time i4i has no plans for x4w to support Word 2013.