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Free utility pinpoints needed file changes in Office

ConverterTechnology is offering a free utility that scans Microsoft Office to determine which files would be affected during an upgrade to a newer version of the software.

A small software company is offering a free utility to help desktop administrators scan Microsoft Office to determine which files would be affected during an upgrade to a newer version of the software.

ConverterTechnology Corp.'s ScanIT allows users to scan Office files to help identify what needs to be changed when files are brought forward. Users experience the most problems moving from Office 97 -- particularly within the Access database management system -- to anything newer because of the major changes that occurred after that software was produced.

If customers want to make changes based on information gleaned from ScanIT, they can then buy OfficeConverter, the company's flagship product, said Steve Roche, chief technology officer and general manager at ConverterTechnology, which has U.S. headquarters in Nashua, N.H.

Roche said the ScanIT software looks at file systems on either a network or a single file server. It searches the hierarchy and finds files specified by the user. "At that point, you've found the files that constitute your project," he said.

The scan identifies the problems in each file. It looks for coding standards and object model standards, and it can see in the code what has to be changed.

While the utility can be helpful in many cases, analysts advise that not all documents really need to be migrated and that companies should focus on what is truly necessary. "Anyone can say, 'Gee, the binary changed from Office 95 to XP,' but the result is that everyone doesn't have to migrate those documents," said Timothy Hickernell, vice president at the Meta Group Inc., a Stamford, Conn., consulting firm.

Some companies consider migrating legacy code so it works under one platform. But there is also the issue of whether legacy code is doing what it needs to do. With Office 2003, Microsoft is changing its platform by adding XML and SmartDocs, for example. So companies need to ask themselves whether outright conversion of the legacy code is the right thing to do or whether they should build automation into something different, Hickernell said.

ConverterTechnology's software can have a role by identifying where the documentation is. Not all shops know how dependent they are on Office macros, which are a problem when migrating from one version of software to another, he said. Thanks to Office 2003 and its new document automation capabilities, companies should re-evaluate whether they should continue the same runtime environment.

Pricing for OfficeConverter is based on the number of Office licenses in the environment. For 20 Office licenses, customers can buy OfficeConverter for $3,300; the tool converts an unlimited number of files.

ScanIT is free and can be downloaded by anyone who has Microsoft Office.


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