In the recent 'digital dark age story' fancy new Microsoft technology is being used to rescue unreadable file formats. Why didn't they just go to PDF?
I was given the following information by Datawatch Europe, which provides business intelligence, enterprise reporting and data transformation products. Monarch is its desktop report mining application used, Datawatch says, by around 500,000 professionals worldwide. Recent developments in Monarch Version 9 have improved the software’s ability to recognise and convert legacy file formats into PDF, html or Excel formats. So organisations can tap into some previously inaccessible knowledge reserves.
Monarch can cope with over 16 file formats and can convert to PDF or export to Excel for analysis and conversion. It is also capable of exporting to Microsoft’s new document file format, Open XML.
If there are hundreds of files or records to deal with, a server version of Monarch, called Data Pump, can automate the capture of data, apply any filters or conversions and automatically distribute the end result to whoever needs that refined data.
The National Archive could do its digital document rescue job by converting the old files to PDFs. They wouldn't be editable then but they would be accessible. Also, with its history of changing file formats who can guarantee that Microsoft's OOXML won't become un-readable some day?