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XML Paper Specification (XPS)

What is XPS?

XPS Documents maintain a consistent appearance for documents—despite environmental variables—through the use of a fixed page layout and new technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the Windows Color System, the Open Packaging Conventions, the XPS print path, and XPS Viewer. Essentially, XPS-based technologies allow an author to be much more certain that the next person to view or print their document will see it exactly as the author intended.

XPS technologies offer benefits to users throughout the document workflow, starting with authoring and viewing the document and continuing through to storing and archiving. For starters, XPS Documents are fixed-format documents described by an XML-based language. This means the document layout is fixed, just as it would be if it were printed on a piece of paper. As a result, XPS Viewer and the XPS print path can present the document in the same way to the user whether it is viewed in a window or on a piece of paper. For more on this, take a look at the sidebar "Three Paths to High Fidelity."

XPS Documents also support security features, such as digital signatures, to provide greater document security. When applied to a document, these digital signatures can help ensure the identity of the author and the validity of the document content.

Custom resources and other application-specific metadata can also be included in an XPS Document, allowing applications to create and use XPS Document packages. These packages offer numerous benefits over other file formats, including the ability to store and archive files with all the content and design details in tact. XPS Document packages describe their contents using a plain-text, XML-based data format (rather than a proprietary binary format). And they contain all the information related to the document and its particular application. The XML Paper Specification describes this format in an open and published specification provided to users and developers by Microsoft under a royalty-free license.

The XPS Document package is a compressed ZIP archive that allows the resulting file to regain some of the space efficiency that is lost by using an XML-based language. The XPS Document package complies with the Open Packaging Conventions. And the ZIP archive format described in the Open Packaging Conventions is a published, open specification that is included under the XPS license. Documents created by the next version of Microsoft Office System (codenamed "Office 12") will also comply with the Open Packaging Conventions. Using open specifications for both the content and the storage format helps ensure that the document's contents will be accessible long into the future. Further details and downloads regarding XPS and the Open Packaging Conventions can be found on the Microsoft Web site at XML Paper Specification.
The XML Paper Specification (XPS) makes modern documents possible for all. Simply put, XPS describes electronic paper in a way that can be read by hardware, read by software, and read by humans. With XPS, documents print better, can be shared easier, be archived with confidence, and are more secure.

Microsoft has integrated XPS-based technologies into the 2007 Microsoft Office system and the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system, but XPS itself is platform independent, openly published, and available royalty-free. Microsoft is using XPS to bring additional document value to its customers, its partners, and the computing industry.

Explore some of the features and functionality made possible by XPS.
Get Started
In Windows Vista XPS document features are already in place. You can generate XPS files from any application by printing and selecting the Microsoft XPS Document Writer as the printer. You can view XPS documents by simply double-clicking. They will automatically open inside an XPS viewer.

For earlier versions of the Windows operating system, download the Microsoft XPS Document Writer to generate XPS files from any Windows application and an XPS viewer to see the results.
Integrate XPS in Your Application
Your application can seamlessly integrate with enterprise-wide workflows by implementing XPS publish, import, and view functionality. The Windows SDK and .NET Framework 3.0 provide the APIs to enable you to use XPS technologies in your Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) application.

The Windows Vista print sub-system was optimized to recognize and process XPS documents. By implementing XPS in your application, your customers can experience print quality previously found only in high-end graphic arts applications.

The XML Paper Specification is designed to simultaneously support innovation and format consistency so you can build custom implementations that have a safety-net of backward compatibility. This gives you the freedom to decide how and why to implement XPS in your application completely on your terms.

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