Visio goes XML

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Hey, look at this cool stuff:

On to something more pleasant: Microsoft is continuing to advance on the openness front. There are all those weblogs that I've mentioned a time or six, there's the open-source release of the WiX installer tools ( and now (as of today, in fact) there's another addition to the Microsoft Open and Royalty-Free Office 2003 XML reference schema program (say THAT fast three times!), because Microsoft just announced the release of DataDiagramML.

DataDiagramML, as you might guess from the name, is the XML schema that's used when you save a Visio document as XML. Having this documented has the same great interoperability benefits as WordProcessingML offers for Word or SpreadsheetML offers for Excel. Knowing the complete structure of the document, it's easy to modify it - for example, you can grab information from a database and use it to modify an existing Visio document, all through standard XML tools. The other half of the equation is that you don't even need Visio to build a DataDiagramML document; you can use whatever XML tool you like to output a document that conforms to the schema, and it should open fine in Visio.

For many years, we complained that Microsoft insisted on using all-proprietary formats for its Office documents. Now that Word, Excel, InfoPath, and Visio all have the capability of saving into open, documented formats, this criticism is losing some of its sting. (Though not all of it...*cough* Access *cough*). The next step, I think, would be a world where the XML formats are the default, and Microsoft commits to open up every file format they create, from Outlook Express to Project. Then we'd have a world where your data was yours, and you could move it to any tool you liked. I'll bet Microsoft would compete pretty hard to keep our business on a features and benefits basis in that world, instead of depending on format lock-in.
Anyhow, today's release is a big step forward. More details at and

Mike Gunderloy, ADT Mag's Developer Central Newsletter.

Well, nothing to add, Mike said enough.

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