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Microsoft Office Word 2003 Preview (Part 2 of 2)

Office 2003

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Summary: Preview the new features and enhancements, such as smart tag improvements, Document Workspace sites, range permissions, style lockdown, reading mode and other features in the latest version of Word, Word 2003. (11 printed pages)

In Part 1 of the article, we looked at some new features in the latest version of Word, Word 2003. These features included Extensible Markup Language (XML) support, smart document solutions, and the research library. In this article, you will be given a high level preview of more new features in Word 2003: smart tag improvements, Document Workspace sites, range permissions, style lockdown, reading mode, and others.

This article assumes you are familiar with Word.

Smart tags were first introduced in Microsoft Office XP and supported in Microsoft Word 2002, Excel 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002 (when Word is used as the Outlook e-mail editor or when reading html e-mail), and Microsoft Internet Explorer (smart tag actions only, no recognizers). Smart tags enable the dynamic recognition of terms within documents, making data in Office documents more meaningful and actionable. For example, once a term is recognized, the user can invoke an action from a list of actions associated with that particular smart tag. Examples could include inserting relevant data, linking to a Web page, database lookup, data conversion and so forth.

With the Microsoft Office System, smart tag support has extended to Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 and Microsoft Office Access 2003. In addition, the Research task pane that is available across multiple Office applications also supports smart tags. Additionally, it is possible to add recognition capability in Internet Explorer by using a tool that will be included in the Smart Tag SDK for the Microsoft Office System. Smart tags in the Microsoft Office System have also been enhanced and improved based on feedback from users and developers.

You can build custom smart tags using any programming language that can create a Component Object Model (COM) add-in. A smart tag dynamic-link library (DLL) is a COM DLL with applications that support it, for example, Word 2003, functioning as hosts in the Microsoft Office System.

In Office XP, the ISmartTagRecognizer and ISmartTagAction interfaces (as defined in the Microsoft Smart Tag 1.0 Type Library) are implemented to build custom smart tag COM add-ins. In the Microsoft Office System, the ISmartTagRecognizer and ISmartTagAction interfaces exist unchanged. However, the smart tag application programming interface (API) library is extended to support two additional new interfaces that enable new functionality: ISmartTagRecognizer2 and ISmartTagAction2.

The library, which is also backward compatible, is named Microsoft Smart Tags 2.0 Type Library. With this library, it is possible to develop a smart tag DLL that works in both Office XP and the Microsoft Office System. The new features are not supported and therefore will not work in Office XP. Nevertheless, developers can address the needs of customers who are running both versions in their organization.

Below is a list of some of the new smart tag features in the Microsoft Office System:

  • Smart tags reloading without having to restart the host application

    In Office XP, smart tag recognizers and actions are loaded only when the application is initially started. In the Microsoft Office System, smart tags can be reloaded without having to close and reopen the host application, which makes them more accessible and convenient for users. Also, newly downloaded smart tag actions are immediately available, and you can dynamically update smart tags as designed without requiring a restart. This feature also benefits developers who are in the build/debugging process of smart tags.

  • Dynamic caption

    In Office XP, once a caption that appears on the smart tag action menu is set, you cannot change it during run time. In the Microsoft Office System, smart tag action menu captions can be altered at run time. The name of an action can depend on the string that has been smart tagged. With this capability, developers can create more useful action menus to give users a better experience. Previously, a smart tag action menu might have offered users the opportunity to "buy this DVD now." Now the same action can provide richer, more timely information with greater detail, such as "buy this DVD on sale for $11.99 until June 5," which would be programmatically derived at run time.

    With dynamic captions, developers can tailor relevant actions based on the presented information. Developers can also suppress inappropriate action items when it makes sense to not display a specific action item (for example, an action item with a caption that says "buy now" for a product that has been discontinued, or one that says "schedule a meeting" for a date that has passed).

  • Cascading Menus

    In Office XP, smart tag menus only supported one level of menu items, you could not cascade or logically group menu items. In the Microsoft Office System, you have the ability to create cascading menus as shown in Figure 1. With that capability, you can logically group actions to make it easier for users to navigate the options, shorten the overall menu length, or simply consolidate actions under one heading so they are separated from other action handlers.

    Figure 1. Cascading menu in the Microsoft Office System smart tags

    Cascading menu in smart tags
  • Tokenizer feature built into smart tag infrastructure

    The Tokenizer feature built into the smart tag infrastructure in the Microsoft Office System, which breaks down strings, punctuation, and white space into actual words for use by the recognizer, enables streams of tokens to be passed to recognizers in addition to raw text. Therefore, developers implementing the smart tag API do not have to tokenize the text. This will make developing recognizers for languages that do not have spaces between words, such as some East Asian languages, much easier. It will also simplify development for western languages as well because developers can operate on tokens rather than having to worry about separating a text buffer into words based on white space and punctuation. Tokenization is also very useful for developers who are writing smart tags that need to support multiple languages because developers will no longer have to write language-specific code to do this.

  • Enable or disable the smart tag button and underline

    You can choose to enable or disable the smart tag button and underline for individual smart tags by setting properties in the property bag and using the ISmartTagAction_ShowSmartTagIndicator property in the ISmartTagAction2 interface.

  • Extended object model support

    The smart tag object model support has been extended to provide developers with more flexibility from Microsoft Office Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

  • Deploy smart tags for all users on a machine

    In Office XP, you could only deploy smart tags for use at an individual (current user) level on a given computer. In the Microsoft Office System, smart tags can be deployed for use by all users of a machine rather than just the person who installed them. This is done by writing the smart tag registry keys under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE rather than HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

  • Smart tag actions for XML in Word 2003 and Excel 2003

    You can build smart tag actions for XML elements in Word and Excel documents in the same way you build them for smart tags labeled by smart tag recognizers.

  • Microsoft Office Smart Tag List enhancement

    The Microsoft Office Smart Tag List DLL (MOSTL) is the built-in smart tag recognizer and action handler run-time which allows you to build smart tags using XML, without writing a single line of code. In the Microsoft Office System, MOSTL has been enhanced to support regular expression usage (see below for more detail) and the ability to set properties on items in a list of terms.

  • Pattern matching using regular expression in MOSTL

    Using regular expression to do pattern matching, you can create more useful and powerful MOSTL based smart tags. You can now write regular expressions to recognize terms that predictably reoccur (for example, a part number where the string always begins with some letters and ends in a sequence of digits) without having to enter every possible part number in the MOSTL XML file.

  • XML expansion pack

    The XML expansion pack used to deploy smart document solution is a new technology that simplifies securely installing smart tag DLLs, Component Object Model (COM) add-ins, and other files that extend Office. The XML expansion pack can also be used to deploy smart tags, which greatly simplifies both smart tag deployment to the desktop and keeping them up to date.

There are also new types of smart tags developers can implement in the Microsoft Office System that offer varying life spans and scope in the recognition of terms:

  • Expiring

    In the Microsoft Office System, smart tags can be marked to expire on a certain date and time. This feature is especially useful for smart tags that would no longer be of value after a certain date or time, saving developers from maintenance tasks and cleanup. For example, a smart tag that links to an online coupon can be set to expire when the coupon is no longer valid, ensuring that users do not waste time or that they are not misled.

  • Unsavable

    Unsavable smart tags are smart tags that are active when the document is open but are unsavable with the document. It is inappropriate to save some smart tags with a document. Not saving certain smart tags ensures that private or sensitive information (for example client data) is not accidentally forwarded outside a department or organization with a document.

  • Fragile

    Developers creating recognizers for smart tags can avoid unwanted recognition. In the past, smart tags that recognized client names ran the risk of misinterpreting the user's intent if similar client names were entered, for example, Smith Auto and Smith Auto Body. In this scenario, if the user paused after typing Smith Auto, the recognizer would fire off the discovery of a real client, but when the user finished the term Smith Auto Body, the original recognition would persist and not represent the actual context. In the Microsoft Office System, this can be avoided by setting the fragile property on a smart tag, allowing it to stop recognizing whenever the user types in the paragraph, not just in the middle of the smart tag itself.

To find out more about smart tags in the Microsoft Office System, see What's New with Smart Tags in Office 2003.

Currently, people do ad-hoc collaborative authoring in a variety of ways. For example, collaborative authoring is performed via e-mail, or with authoring applications like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, or with groupware tools like SharePoint Products and Technologies or real-time collaboration tools like instant messaging and conferencing. In the Microsoft Office System, ad-hoc collaborative authoring combines the best approaches through the new Document Workspace feature – the ease of getting collaborative efforts started using e-mail, online file management and sharing with SharePoint Products and Technologies, and the rich editing functionality found in Office applications.

Document Workspace sites capitalize on natural entry points, supplement and integrate with existing tools, and minimizes collaboration apparatus overhead. In addition, Document Workspace sites makes collaborative efforts straightforward, from sending a simple shared e-mail file attachment to automatically creating a full-blown SharePoint site.

Shared Workspace Task Pane

Before discussing Document Workspace sites in more detail, it is important to understand what a Shared Workspace task pane is. When a user opens a document that is located on a SharePoint site (whether it be a regular, or Document Workspace site), the Microsoft Office System application that opens the document provides a special task pane that shows relevant information about that site directly in the application. As shown in Figure 2, this pane displays information such as the list of people who are collaborating in the Document Workspace site, as well as their online status, a list of tasks, other documents in the Shared Workspace library, relevant hyperlinks and other information. Word 2003, Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Office Project 2003, Microsoft Office Visio 2003 and Microsoft OneNote display the Shared Workspace task pane when they open a document that resides on a SharePoint site.

The task pane is not just view-only. It allows a user to invite new contributors to the Document Workspace site, create, assign, or mark tasks as completed, upload additional documents, view other documents in the library, and add or follow hyperlinks related to the document. Also, integration of the task pane with Instant Messaging technology allows the user to see who is online through the familiar "pawn" icon, and send instant messages or e-mail to team members. This pane brings the context of the document right into the user's environment.

Figure 2. A document showing the Shared Workspace task pane and a list of people collaborating on the document

Document showing the Shared Workspace task pane

Document Workspace Sites

With existing models, when multiple authors are collaborating on document, users often start by e-mailing a document to their partners. If they post it on a server, they often also need to have a local copy of the file to work on either because they occasionally have to work offline, or they find the server copy locked for editing by another user. However, using e-mail and having offline copies as the basis of your collaboration will result in documents getting out of synchronization or being "forked" into multiple incarnations. This requires a lengthy process of reconciliation of changes, often much more than is necessary if all users were able to edit or review an up-to-date version. With e-mail collaboration, it is also hard to track the progress of the other contributors.

Document Workspace sites make typical ad-hoc document collaboration easier in several ways. As with SharePoint sites, Document Workspace sites centralize all of the "artifacts" of collaboration — task lists, deadlines, related documents, hyperlinks, and contacts for project participants. They also integrate with the Microsoft Office System applications through the Shared Workspace task pane in the application that appears beside the document, allowing for easy access to all of these resources and bringing the team-collaboration context into an author's personal productivity tools. Unlike e-mail, where the original author has no way of knowing if any of the people she or he asked to contribute to the collaborative effort have even started work on it, with the Shared Workspace task pane and Document Workspace sites, each partner can see the editing and task progress or completion.

Documents that are stored locally and connected to the Document Workspace site can be easily synchronized with the master copy on the server to keep all the contributors up to date with changes made by others. When working with a local copy of the document that is connected to a Document Workspace site, the user can always access the most up-to-date version before starting work — thus avoiding a forked document. If the user is online and opens a local, connected document, the the Microsoft Office System application will first check it against the master copy on the server running SharePoint Products and Technologies. If the local version is out of date, the application will offer the user a choice to download the most current version. Alternatively, if the user had been working off line and their version is newer, the user can push changes to the document back to the server at any time. If someone else has made changes to the document in the intervening time, the the Microsoft Office System application will offer the user a chance to reconcile the differences. Figure 3 shows the Shared Workspace service options, such as when to check for updates and set document update alerts.

Figure 3. Shared Workspace service options

Shared Workspace service options

By using Document Workspace site, you can effectively collaborate while minimizing overhead and delays, avoid multiple forked versions and document content being out of date, avoid bottlenecks, work around a file being locked, and you have the ability to track progress without having to set up a server. You can also programmatically create a Document Workspace site, do bulk manipulation of collaborative data, and synchronize files using the object model for Document Workspace sites.

Creating a Document Workspace Site by Using E-Mail

In Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, when you attach one or more files (documents, pictures, and so forth) to an e-mail message, you will see the Attachment Options task pane as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Shared attachment option when sending an attachment using Outlook 2003 and a Document Workspace site

Shared attachment option

By default, the attachments will be sent in the same way they were in previous versions, but if the user selects the Shared Attachment option and then sends the e-mail, in addition to sending the attachments normally, a Document Workspace site is created on an available server running SharePoint Products and Technologies, and a copy of all the attachments will be stored there. If the user wishes, they can specify which SharePoint site to create the Document Workspace site on, or leave it set to the default choice. Any recipient of the e-mail is automatically added to the Document Workspace site as a contributor. Therefore, just by sending an e-mail and attachment, the user has kicked off a powerful collaboration tool for the user's team of co-workers, regardless of where they are working.

Every recipient of the original e-mail gets the attachments normally, but also sees a link pointing to the Document Workspace site where the latest copies of the document can be found, and other information related to the new document collaboration. For recipients without the Microsoft Office System, they can either work on the potentially out-of-date attachments, or use the included link to the Document Workspace site to see the latest information and work directly from the server while online. For recipients who are using the Microsoft Office System, there is an added benefit —any Office documents that were attached, are now connected to the master copies on the Document Workspace site. When those documents are opened, the application will offer to check for an updated version on the server, therefore, if the e-mail attachment is resolved as out of date, users can choose to download the latest copy to work on, or work off the server. The Shared Workspace task pane also appears and provides information from the Document Workspace site in the task pane. Because this shared attachment is on the user's local machine, it can be edited offline or online, even when other users are working on the server copy or on their own connected local copies. There is no need for the the Microsoft Office System users to e-mail copies of the document.

With shared attachments connected to Document Workspace sites, and the shared task pane, each co-author working on their own computer is prompted when the document has been changed by others, and is given the opportunity to review the changes or contribute their own in real time as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. The document update options

The document update options

Using SharePoint Tasks and Alerts, each team member can also track the progress of other contributors. Instant messaging integration makes it easy to see when other authors are online and initiate conversations with them.

Creating a Document Workspace Site by Using a Microsoft Office System Application

Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Visio 2003 let users easily develop a local document into a Document Workspace site, by collaborating in ad hoc ways. While editing a local document, an author can invite partners and assign tasks, creating a Document Workspace site to store the document and associated data without needing to know anything about SharePoint Products and Technologies or how to set them up.

The entry point to creating Document Workspace sites in the applications (not just Word) is in the Shared Document command in Tools menu. The Create button in the Shared Workspace task pane as shown in Figure 6 allows you to create a Document Workspace site from within an Office application. A user can create a Document Workspace site for any the Microsoft Office System document on their hard drive. This document then becomes a connected local copy of the document, with a master copy on the server. The user can invite other contributors, add links, and so forth without using e-mail.

Figure 6. Adding or creating Document Workspace sites from within Shared Workspace task pane

Adding or creating Document Workspace sites

Creating a Document Workspace Site for a Document on a SharePoint Site

Sometimes SharePoint sites can grow quite large and have a large number of members. In this case, some users may want to take a document to a semi-private space to work on it further, without disrupting the current "public" version with editing in progress. A document that exists in the SharePoint site can be forked into a private collaborative Document Workspace site, and periodically (or finally) published back to the original source location. In this semi-private space, users work on the document alone or with a few others. This can be achieved through the user interface of SharePoint Products and Technologies using the Create Document Workspace command in the document context menu. This will create a site and apply the Document Workspace site template (see Figure 7). By default, only administrators can create Document Workspace sites in SharePoint Products and Technologies and the right to create Document Workspace sites is inherited.

Figure 7. Creating a semi-private Document Workspace site from a more "public" Document Workspace site

Creating a semi-private Document Workspace site

Additionally, Document Workspace site gives you the ability to set up policies to:

  • Specify the location of your personal site on the SharePoint Portal Server.

  • Specify the display list for the location picker where you want Document Workspace sites created.

  • Turn the location discovery mechanism on or off.

  • Specify the Shared Workspace task pane polling interval.

Prevent or force the Shared Workspace task pane from showing up automatically for SharePoint Products and Technologies and Document Workspace documents.

  • Prevent or force the Shared Workspace task pane from showing up automatically when there is important status information.

  • Prevent or force the Attachment Options task pane from showing up automatically.

What follows is a list of miscellaneous feature enhancements and improvements. This is not a comprehensive list.

Improved Readability with the Reading View

The reading view option (in the View menu, click Reading Layout) in Word 2003 makes it easier to read documents on your computer (see Figure 8). Documents are formatted optimally for reading. This includes wider margins, multiple pages on the screen (space permitting), larger font size, and so forth. Pages are sized to fit your screen so you do not have to scroll a page.

The Reading Mode toolbar is designed for reading-related activities. For example, you can select the page you want to view using the thumbnail view. The Reading Mode Markup toolbar enables you to mark up the document with comments, highlighting, and revisions. The page displayed in reading mode also has plenty of white space for you to insert comments. Using the Document Map, you can quickly move to different sections of a document.

Figure 8. Reading is made easier using the Reading View mode

Reading is made easier using the Reading View mode

Lock-Down Formatting

You can lock down the formatting of a document in Word 2003 by using document protection (in the Tools menu, click Protect Document). By locking down formatting, you can control and limit the available formatting to only the styles that you specify. Any user modifying your document can make formatting changes only by applying the styles you specify. They cannot change the available styles, and they cannot apply formatting directly to content by clicking the Bullets button on the Formatting toolbar or by pressing CTRL+B.

Range Permission

In Word 2002, when you protect a document against editing, you have to apply protection to the entire document. You cannot selectively apply editing restrictions to certain portions of a document.

In Word 2003, you can selectively restrict the editing of document parts. For example, you can specify that a document be read-only or allow changes only with tracked changes turned on, except for certain paragraphs that you want anyone to be able to modify. In addition, you can apply the restriction to selected individuals with permissions based on windows login information, SharePoint user role and so forth as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Apply editing and formatting restriction to selected individuals using document protection

Apply editing and formatting restrictions

Support for Tablet PC

If you are using a device that supports ink input, such as a Tablet PC, you can use the pen device and take advantage of handwriting in Word. For example you can make handwritten comments, jot down handwritten content, and mark up with handwritten annotations in Word documents. If you use Word as the e-mail editor in Outlook 2003, you can also send handwritten e-mail.

Revision Marks

In Word 2003, you can turn off the display of balloons for revisions and display the balloon for comments only. You can also specify that insertions be marked with a different color from deletions. In addition, the formatting problems that cropped up in Word 2002 such as style corruption and the problem that styles were set by default to update automatically has been corrected in Word 2003.

Fax Over Internet

Fax over internet allows you to send and receive faxes using third party internet fax services. The entry point is from the File menu, pointing to Send To and clicking Recipient using Internet Fax Service.

Enhancements and improvements to smart tags make smart tag technology in Word 2003 even more useful and powerful. With Document Workspace site that builds on SharePoint technology, an entire collaboration project can be initiated, managed, and terminated cleanly from within the document. The reading mode in Word 2003 makes reading online easier and better. The ability to enforce selective restriction using document protection provides greater flexibility for its usage. In Part 1 of the article, we explored Word 2003 XML support, smart document solutions, and research library. These are just some of the new, exciting and improved features to look forward to in Word 2003.

Acknowledgment

I would like to thank Jeff Reynar, Anne Archambault, Chris Pratley from the Word 2003 Program Management team, Chris Kunicki of OfficeZealot.com, and Charles Maxson, who is an independent consultant, for their contributions and help in writing this article.

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