An interesting piece by Joel Spolsky, a guy who worked for Microsoft back in the day.
If you started reading these documents with the hope of spending a weekend writing some spiffy code that imports Word documents into your blog system, or creates Excel-formatted spreadsheets with your personal finance data, the complexity and length of the spec probably cured you of that desire pretty darn quickly. A normal programmer would conclude that Office’s binary file formats:
* are deliberately obfuscated
* are the product of a demented Borg mind
* were created by insanely bad programmers
* and are impossible to read or create correctly.
You’d be wrong on all four counts.
Being the charitable guy I am, I only thought the first, second and fourth bullet points were true.
The advice on how to work around the difficult specs is good.