Saturday, August 16, 2008

The skinny on Themes and Styles

The Office 2007 team had a bit of re-working to do. Microsoft Office began life as separate products - a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation program. In Office 4.3 (why 4? I don't know) these products were packaged as one - I still remember the floppies that we used to shove in as we installed Office on Windows 3.1. Word had it's own WordBasic, Excel had Excel 4 Macros and Powerpoint could not be automated. In subsequent versions, all the Office products used VBA, tacked on via the VBA IDE, courtesy of the Visual Basic team. Menus became more consistent and so on. 

From the start, you could embed data or import / export data between these programs. But the look of the documents was not easy to make consistent until Office 2007. The way the Office 2007 team has managed to make for a consistent look to documents is to tack on Themes. That's not the hard part - they also had to renovate some long standing differences in Templates -PowerPoint being the most odd. They also have to work in with the concept of Word Styles, new Table and Multi-Level List Styles. They enhanced Excel Lists and called the new feature, Tables.

At the end of the day, we need to grasp the interplay between the new Theme architecture and whatever Styles (as interpreted by each Office program) and Templates. Here's a help page that gives a very brief skim.

More:

BTW, seems Ed Bott and Woody Leonhardt have written a concise, insightful book going by the plebian name of Using Office 2007 - it doesn't go into verbal diarrhoea but it misses details as well.

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