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Git Your MS Office Docs

Commit docs to Git, Use Diff to "Patch" Text

· DevOps Zone

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I’d love Git to grok MS Office docs, but it doesn’t really. It came up again today at work, and coincidentally in Disqus comments for an older blog entry of mine--The rise of version control.

Anyway, I though I’d spike what Git would do, were it reworked to silently unzip (for commit) and rezip (as it makes working copy). Here’s a repo – git-word-diff-test. Here’s a commit of a simulated storage of a Word doc (Mac Office ) – Mary.docx – which just contains one word per line “Mary had a little lamb,” and a single commit that changed that to “Karl had a little iPad.”

Turns out the commit is pretty noisy – search in page for “iPad.” It was the only intended change. It’s a shame that a whole bunch of random and temporal stuff changes at the same time. Microsoft: try to make idempotent things please.

Never mind, the second commit was only an 170 byte addition to the .git/ blobs, when the .docx file is ordinarily 23Kb in size.

Byte diff calc for the HEAD commit:

COMMITSHA=$(git log | grep "commit " | head -n 1 | sed 's/commit //')
CURRENTSIZE=$(git ls-tree -lrt $COMMITSHA | grep blob | sed -E "s/.{53} *([0-9]*).*/\1/g" | paste -sd+ - | bc)
PREVSIZE=$(git ls-tree -lrt $COMMITSHA^ | grep blob | sed -E "s/.{53} *([0-9]*).*/\1/g" | paste -sd+ - | bc)

(modified from stackoverflow)

As I sorta said in the Disqus comments, I’d pay for Git to be changed to silently unzip .docx, .xlsx and .pptx documents and only reconstitute them in the working copy as I checkout. I’m only interested in the carriage-return-delimited text diffs (incl XML), if I’m diffing at all. Diffs on the binary aspects of zips are a wrong as an operating system not being Unix derivative despite what Cosmin says.

Update: (Spet 1st) Inside the zip, there’s vbaProject.bin for Word/Excel/Ppowerpoint docs that have VBA. This raises the bar on the idea – as it is binary. Luckily there is open-source know-how that will allow this otherwise less-than-open-standard piece to be unpacked too: Philippe Lagadec’s oletools.

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git,ms office,devops,version control

Published at DZone with permission of Paul Hammant, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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