What Is XPS And Why Should You Care?

What Is XPS And Why Should You Care?


Once upon a time, it wasn’t Apple that Adobe was getting beat up by, it was our good friends at Microsoft.

They wanted to create a competing format to the ubiquitous PDF, so they created the XML Paper Specification (XPS). When I read that Home Document Manager now supports XPS files, it occurred to me that I hadn’t written about XPS on DocumentSnap before.

Go Open

Knowing that it would be pretty difficult to battle PDF with a Microsoft-only format, they did the smart thing and submitted it to ECMA to make it an open standard called OpenXPS.

They took it a step further and made it XML (OK XAML; stop being picky)-based which is a big bonus.

So What Is XPS?

Like PDF, XPS is a document format that is fixed-layout. As I mentioned, it is XML based, so the XML markup defines how the document will look when printed or viewed with an XPS viewer.

Wikipedia has a pretty thorough comparison of OpenXPS and PDF if you are wondering how the two stack up.

How Do I Create An XPS Document?

If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, you’re in luck. OpenXPS support is built-in. All you need to do is go File > Print and choose the built-in XPS printer and you will be good to go.

If you use XP, you can download the MS XPS Essentials Pack that will let you do the same thing.

I haven’t found any free XPS writers for the Mac. If you know of one, leave it on the comments!

OK So.. Why Should I Care?

Well, at this point, you probably don’t. 99.999999% of the documents that you work with are going to be PDF. However, it’s always good to know what formats may or may not be on the horizon, and often over time the “more open” solution wins in technology. We’ll have to see whether that remains PDF or is XPS in the long term.

By the way, your next question might be “how do I scan to XPS with my ScanSnap?”. Patience, that is coming. 🙂

So.. what do you think? Any XPS fans in the house?

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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