A new feature we have been working on in our development version of CLUMP, is the option for a list editor to export their reading list as a word document (specifically in a docx format).  This will be particularly beneficial for academics extract a copy of their list in a suitable format for inclusion into a course/module handbook. A key requirement we had when developing it was that it should be easy to alter the styles used for headings, citations, notes, etc.

As previously mentioned by Jon the docx format is actually a zip file containing a group of XML files.  The text content of a document is stored within the “w:body” element in the document.xml file.  The style details are stored in another of the xml files.  Styles and content being stored in separate files allows us to create a template.docx file in word, in which we define our styles.  The export script then takes this template and populates it with the actual content.

When generating an export the script takes a copy of the template file, treats it as a zip file and extracts the document.xml file.  Then it replaces the contents of the w:body element in that extracted file with our own xml before overwriting the old document.xml with our new one.  Finally we then pass this docx file from the servers memory to the user.  All of this process is done in memory which avoids the overheads associated with generating and handling temporary files.


To adjust the formatting of the styles in the template it can simply be loaded into Word, where the desired changes to the styles can be made.  After it has been saved it can be uploaded to the server to replace its existing template.