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Converting Documents with Microsoft Office Converter Pack

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Converting Documents with Microsoft Office Converter Pack

This content is no longer actively maintained. It is provided as is, for anyone who may still be using these technologies, with no warranties or claims of accuracy with regard to the most recent product version or service Tracy L. Aardsma

One of the continuing goals of any business is to save time and money by streamlining production processes. To help businesses and other users achieve this goal, software manufacturers work to improve upon the software that businesses use. When enough improvements have accumulated, a new version of the existing software package is created. Ironically, however, the types of businesses for whom such software improvements are developed are frequently the last to upgrade to the new version release. Home users tend to upgrade their software much more quickly than businesses, but why?

The answer is simple: upgrading to a new version can often result in compatibility conflicts that cost valuable production hours to resolve. Microsoft Office 97 and Microsoft Office 2000 (and therefore Word 97 and Word 2000) come equipped with converters that enable you to open documents created in previous versions. For example, you can open a Word 95 document in Word 97 or Word 2000 as long as you've installed the proper converter during setup. However, these converters don't support backward conversion; in other words, you can't successfully open a Word 97 or 2000 document in Word 95. This can be a problem, especially if a phased deployment process results in users sharing files across different versions.

To alleviate this compatibility conflict, Microsoft offers the Microsoft Office Converter Pack, a utility included in the Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit. In this article, we'll show you how to customize and install the Microsoft Office Converter Pack so that you can easily share documents between Word 95, Word 97, and Word 2000.

A brief history

The Microsoft Office Converter Pack is a utility included in the Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit, a reference guide designed primarily for system administrators and IT professionals deploying Office 2000 in the workplace. The Resource Kit contains a collection of tools and utilities that you can use to help streamline deployment of Office 2000 and reduce your total cost of ownership.

When you try to open a Word 97 or Word 2000 file in Word 95, Word 95 presents the Convert File dialog box shown in Figure A. As you can see, Word 97 and Word 2000 aren't listed as recognized file types since they're subsequent releases. If you choose the Text Only or Recover Text From Any File option from the Convert File From list box, you can successfully convert the original file's text, but it will be cluttered with unreadable formatting code as well. However, by installing and customizing the Microsoft Office Converter Pack, Word 95 can successfully convert Word 97 and Word 2000 files. The Converter Pack even contains an HTML converter that lets you open HTML documents created in Office 2000 in previous versions.

Figure A: The Word 95 converter is incapable of properly converting Word 97 and Word 2000 files.
[ Figure A ]

Installation options

You can obtain the Microsoft Office Converter Pack from the Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit CD-ROM or by downloading it at Click on the navigation link for the Toolbox and scroll down to find the download file. Once you've obtained the Microsoft Office Converter Pack, you can simply install it on your system by running its setup program, or you can customize it first. The default configuration of the Microsoft Office Converter Pack installs the complete collection of add-ins, converters, and filters available for each Office application already installed on your system. For instance, if you have Word 95 on your system, the Converter Pack installs only the converters designed for use with Word 95 and none of those designed for Word 6, Word 97, and Word 2000. Table A lists the applications and versions for which the Microsoft Office Converter Pack provides add-ins, converters, and filters.

Table A: Applications enhanced by the Microsoft Office Converter Pack

WordWord 6.x, Word 95, Word 97, Word 2000
ExcelExcel 5.x, Excel 95, Excel 97, Excel 2000
PowerPointPowerPoint 4.x, PowerPoint 95, PowerPoint 97, PowerPoint 2000

Customized configuration

Among the Microsoft Office Converter Pack program files, you'll find the Convpack.ini file. This file contains configuration information for the Microsoft Office Converter Pack. You can customize the installation of the Microsoft Office Converter Pack by editing the Convpack.ini file before running the setup program. This is especially useful if you're deploying the Converter Pack to a number of users in your organization; by customizing the installation, you can specify which components you'd like the Converter Pack to install, and you can guarantee consistent, expedient results throughout your organization.

To edit the Convpack.ini file, open it in a text editor, such as Notepad. As Figure B shows, the file is divided into a number of different sections, and each section title is wrapped in brackets. Within each section is a collection of options and values, listed with the syntax

where option indicates the converter and value indicates whether you'd like it installed during setup. All converter option values are set to Yes by default, which means that they'll all be installed when you run the Converter Pack setup program. To prevent a converter from being installed, change the value setting to No. Let's take a closer look at configuring the converter options available for Word.

Figure B: You can customize the installation of the Microsoft Office Converter Pack by modifying the Convpack.ini file.
[ Figure B ]

The ConvPack section

The first section in the Convpack.ini file is the ConvPack section, which determines the type of setup mode you'd like to use during installation of the Converter Pack. There are two options: Quiet and PreventUninstall. When its value is set to No, Quiet mode is turned off and the setup program runs in full user interface; users are prompted to select which add-ins, converters, and filters they want to include during installation. When its value is Yes, the Quiet option runs setup in Quiet mode, installing all selected add-ins, converters, and filters behind the scenes without requiring user input.

The PreventUninstall option, when set to No, adds an uninstall utility that enables users to remove the Microsoft Office Converter Pack from their systems if desired. To prevent the uninstall utility from being installed during setup, change the value to Yes.

Word sections

The remaining sections in the Convpack.ini file are organized by application. There's a group of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint sections, each divided into version subsections and the converters available for each application version. Table B lists the converters available for Word 6, Word 95, Word 97, and Word 2000. All converter option values are set to Yes by default and will be installed during setup unless you specify otherwise. To prevent a converter from being installed, simply change its value to No.

Table B: Word options for the Microsoft Office Converter Pack

AmiPro2Lotus AmiPro 2.0 for Windows.
AmiPro3Lotus AmiPro 3.x for Windows.
dBASEBorland dBASE II, III, III+, and IV.
FoxProMicrosoft FoxPro 2.6.
ExcelMicrosoft Excel 2.x to Excel 97.
HTMLHyperText Markup Language (import and export).
Lotus123Lotus 1-2-3 versions 2.0 to 4.0.
RFT-DCARevisable-Form-Text Document Content Architecture.
TextText with Layout converter and recover text from any file.
Word97-2000Microsoft Word 97 and 2000.
Word6-95Microsoft Word 6.0/95.
DOSWordMicrosoft Word 3.x to 6.0 for MS-DOS.
MacWordMicrosoft Word 5.x and 4.0 for the Macintosh.
WordPerfect4WordPerfect 4.0 for MS-DOS.
WordPerfect5WordPerfect 5.x for MS-DOS and Windows.
WordPerfect6WordPerfect 6.x for MS-DOS and Windows.
WordStarWordStar 3.3 to 7.0 for MS-DOS and WordStar 1.0 to 2.0 for Windows.
Works3Microsoft Works 3.0 for Windows.
Works95Microsoft Works 4.x for Windows.
WriteMicrosoft Windows Write 3.x.

Filters sections

At the end of the Convpack.ini file (after the PowerPoint sections) are the Filters16 and Filters32 sections. These sections include a collection of 16-bit and 32-bit graphics filters for Word and PowerPoint users. As with the converter options, leave the value set to Yes to install a filter, or change it to No to prevent installation.

Distribution and installation

When you've finished customizing the Convpack.ini file, select File/Save from the Notepad menu bar, and then close Notepad. If you plan to install the Microsoft Office Converter Pack only on your own system, simply locate and run its setup program. When you do, the Microsoft Office Converter Pack installs the converters and filters you specified on your system. If you plan to distribute the Converter Pack to a number of users, store the Converter Pack files (including the Convpack.ini file) on a network drive for easy access. Users can then run the setup program directly from the network location to install the Converter Pack on their systems.

Testing installed converters

Now let's test your newly installed converters. We'll assume you've installed the Word 95, Word 97, and Word 2000 backward-compatibility converters. Start Word 95 and open a document that you created in Word 97 or Word 2000. When you do, Word 95 automatically converts the file behind the scenes and displays it in the application window. There's no more messy plain-text conversions or lost formatting; you can now easily share Word 95, Word 97, and Word 2000 documents between all versions!

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