TechEd booth duty

Halfway through the first day at TechEd/Barcelona, the Open XML booth has been a lot of fun. There's a very wide range of awareness of Open XML among the attendees (or "delegates").

At one extreme, I've talked to a few people who were impressed by watching me rename a DOCX to .ZIP and drilling down into it. "You mean it's just a ZIP file?"

At the other extreme, there are people like Nicolas and Julien (shown with me below). These French developers have built an application that converts a DOCX to HTML, with support for tables, numbering, images, headings, font attributes, and many other things. They had me create a DOCX on my laptop, then they uploaded my document to their server and converted it to HTML.

They're waiting for RTM bits to get things finalized, then they're planning to to release this app to the world in some way. Not as a business, mind you -- "Americans are always thinking in terms of business plans, we're not like that, we're a community." I love it.

In between those extremes, I've met a bunch of developers who have dabbled with Open XML and are ready to go to a deeper level. A few examples:

  • A C# developer from Qatar who has been automating the Word client to create documents for an insurance company, and is looking forward to using System.IO.Packaging instead.
  • A VB.NET developer from Ireland who wasn't aware of the new packaging API in .NET 3.0 and was excited to hear about it. He told me "you have ancestors from the west coast of Ireland, it's more obvious than you might think." :-)
  • A German developer who hadn't seen content controls and spent a few minutes thinking out loud about how his existing applications could take advantage of custom XML support in Open XML.

I bought a cheapo plastic mouse at the mall across the street, which is shaped like a Volkswagen and has headlights and taillights. It has started more conversations than I ever would have guessed. If you have a booth at TechEd that isn't getting much traffic, I highly recommend one!

OK, have to run, it's time for a presentation. And tonight they're serving free drinks here in the exhibition hall so we're expecting a big crowd. It's the middle of a long day ...