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  • Conversion of obsolete Office files

    Researcher Chris Rusbridge encountered issues with a set obsolete PowerPoint 4.0 files created with PowerPoint for Apple Macintosh. There is no way to use these files with a contemporary software setup. He posed the challenge to convert these files to a format that is usable today.

    Using the automation facilities of bwFLA, the files were batch-converted to the standardized PostScript format. This process is working transparently: invisible, without any user action required. The following slides document what actually happens in the emulator. With the Emulation-as-a-Service framework, this conversion process can be started on demand, for example when the file is requested for access. The user is presented with a migrated document that is usable in a current, familiar environment.

    Microsoft Office for Windows 3.11 is known to handle Macintosh PowerPoint 4.0 files. A customized emulator with this software installed is spawned.

    The desired file is injected into the emulator’s system environment.

    By automatically sending keyboard commands to the emulator, PowerPoint is launched.

    The obsolete file now resides on the emulator’s D: drive as the only entry in the file system. It is automatically loaded into Microsoft Office.

    The file is correctly recognized as a Macintosh format PowerPoint presentation.

    The PowerPoint file is printed using a virtual PostScript printer installed in the customized emulator.

    A standard name is chosen for the output file.

    The emulator instance is destroyed. The result of the session, residing on the emulator’s D: drive, is wrapped in a ZIP file. The PostScript file can now automatically be processed further, for example converted into PDF using stanard Free Software tools.