Part 2 - Versions and Compatibility


Dealing with Different Versions of Microsoft Word

One difficulty of working with Microsoft Word comes when dealing with multiple versions of Word. This means versions of Microsoft itself, not versions of an individual document. Two such issues are:

  • Microsoft has no way to determine the version of Word used to create a given document. For example, it is not possible to open up a document and tell that it was originally created in Word 97, or Word 2003.
  • When Ariba integrates with Microsoft, it can only ask “What version are you?” to the Client, NOT the document. So when a Client with Microsoft Word 2007 opens a document which was (for example) originally created with 2003, and Ariba asks “what version are you?” the answer comes back as 2007.


The result of restrictions like these is that it matters very much that you do not “mix” versions of Microsoft Word when working on a document.


Microsoft Word Version Compatibility for Internal Users of Ariba Contract Management

Because of the number of versions, and the complexity of the integration, it is difficult to list out every possible scenario, and explain whether or not it is supported. One of the best ways to explain compatibility issues is with analogies. The following analogies have been useful in explaining Microsoft Word Compatibility:

  • Climbing a “Version Ladder”
  • Hub and Spoke Isolation


Climbing a “Version Ladder”

Imagine a given Microsoft Word Document as a ladder, with each rung of the ladder being a different version. Microsoft Word 2000 is on the lowest rung, 2002 is on the second rung, 2003 is on the third, and Microsoft Word 2007 is on the top rung. You can only “stand” on one rung at a time, and you can only climb.


For example, if you create a document using Microsoft Word 2002, and then open it (generate it) using Microsoft Word 2007, you have climbed from the second rung to the fourth rung. You can never descend the ladder. So this means that once a document has been assembled, or generated with a given version, you can never go back to an older version.


This means that if you have deployed all your clauses, templates, and documents in Microsoft Word 2003, and everyone upgrades at the same time to Word 2007, no issues will occur, because you are always climbing the version ladder. However, if User A creates a document using Microsoft Word 2003, and User B (who has Microsoft Word 2007) opens and generates that document, user B cannot touch it any more without experiencing likely errors. Once touched by a 2007 user, a document cannot be returned to 2003 “status”. You must always climb for a given document, never descend.


Hub and Spoke Isolation

Microsoft Word compatibility can also be thought of as a “hub and spoke” scenario. The Assembled Documents in the Workspace Template and the clause library are the hub and all need to be on the same version and that version needs to be the lowest version of anyone who will use these specific clauses and templates to create workspaces. Each workspace is at the end of a spoke. As long as the hub (clauses and templates) is at the same or lower version than each spoke, there won’t be any problems. As long as each spoke is the same version, people can work on others’ workspaces. However, there can be no “mix and match” across spokes.


This scenario is useful to describe how it might be possible to have an error free deployment where your entire sales team is using Microsoft Word 2007, and your Procurement Team is using Microsoft Word 2003. As long as no clauses are shared, and no user interacts with both sales and procurement workspaces, they are always on different “spokes” and are thus isolated from each other.


What about the Microsoft Word 2007 Compatibility pack?

When Microsoft released Word 2007, they changed the extension (.docx) and were forced to release a service pack for older versions of Microsoft Word to be able to open those documents, since when Word 2003 was released there was no such thing as a .docx file. It is important to realize several things about this:

  • Opening a document in compatibility mode doesn’t have anything to do with the API’s called by Ariba. Just because a document created in 2007 can be opened in 2003 doesn’t mean no issues will arise.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a document with a .doc extension is not a 2007 document as far as the API’s Ariba calls are concerned. If you have Word 2007 on your desktop, and you open a .doc file, Microsoft treats it as a Microsoft Word 2007 document. When Ariba integrates with Microsoft, it can only ask “What version are you?” to the Client, NOT the document. So when a Client with Microsoft Word 2007 opens a document which was (for example) originally created with 2003, and Ariba asks “what version are you?” the answer comes back as 2007. In short, the Compatibility pack doesn’t help (or hinder further) any of Microsoft’s incompatibility issues when it comes to integration.


Supplier/Customer Offline Negotiation (Author Perspective)
The table below highlights what might happen when the contract owner (Ariba Contract Management Author) receives edits and uploads them into a Negotiation Task and clicks Review Changes. In this circumstance if the Author is on a same or higher version of Microsoft Word than that of the third party editor, no issues should occur. Note that most issues occur when using Microsoft Word 2000, which is no longer supported by Microsoft. Green is meant to indicate that a particular combination is supported, yellow indicates it is possible that the combination works, but not guaranteed. Orange indicates that a combination is not supported.
*The following table represents the contract author’s view:

8-23-2011 8-58-24 AM.png

* = The Workbench Contract Author might not see supplier/reviewer edits in the merged document.
** = Compare and merge issue might exist between these versions of Microsoft Word. The differential between Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003 is not as severe as between Microsoft Word 2000 and 2002 or 2003.
Important: The above table assumes that all Ariba Contract Management users (Server document authors) are utilizing the same version of Microsoft Word. This is a requirement.


Examples of Compatibility

The following examples are hypothetical situations meant to give more details about compatibility.


Example 1: Customer Deployed Entirely in Microsoft Word 2003

This scenario covers some background and some questions/answers about what happens in a scenario where a customer is deployed completely in Microsoft Word 2003.



  • This customer has 5 users, all of which use Word 2003 exclusively.
  • The entire deployment was done in Word 2003, meaning that all Ariba deployment professionals used Microsoft Word 2003 exclusively.
  • This customer has 100 clauses in the clause library.
  • This customer has two Contract Workspace Templates, each of which has a single Assembled
  • Document in it, which refers to some clauses in the Clause Library. The templates were (of course) written and loaded using 2003.
    All Contract Creators (people who make workspaces) use 2003.


User Profiles

  • User 1: Owns the Clause Library, edits all the clauses but never creates a Contract Workspace.
  • User 2: Owns the Templates. Never edits any clauses. Never Creates a Workspace.
  • User 3: Just creates workspaces (from those templates). Never touches the clauses (to edit) or edits any templates. However, this user will substitute alternate clauses from the clause library.
  • User 4: Edits both the Clause Library and templates. Never Creates a Contract Workspace.
  • User 5: Edits Templates and Clauses and creates Workspaces including substitutions from the clause library.


Now, this customer upgrades some users to Microsoft Word 2007. Let’s walk through some different scenarios to illustrate what will work and what will break.

Scenario 1a: If the customer upgrades all users to Microsoft Word 2007 simultaneously, there will be no incompatibility issues. The clauses do not need to be modified or updated in the Clause Library, the Templates do not need to be touched, and existing workspaces will work fine. In short, if you do a clean, simultaneous upgrade, you do not need to make any special changes to any existing documents or templates in the system.


Scenario 1b: The customer upgrades just User 3 to Microsoft Word 2007. This means that only the user at the “end of a spoke” has the highest version. This will work fine as long as that user doesn’t do any of the following:

    • Promote to the Clause Library.
    • Edit Templates
    • Edit the Clause Library
    • Modify any Workspaces made using Word 2003 (actually, this will work fine for the 2007 user, but will break any other 2003 users who have to edit it after the 2007 user edits).


Scenario 2: User 3 (using Word 2003) creates a workspace and sends this to the supplier or the customer using the Negotiation Task. The offline person (supplier or customer) is using Word 2007 and edits the document and returns it in .doc format, so User 3 doesn’t know that it was edited in 2007. This scenario is supported, because the Ariba system never “sees” 2007.


Scenario 3: User 3 (using Word 2003) creates a workspace and sends this to the supplier or the customer using the Negotiation Task. The offline person (supplier or customer) is using Word 2007 and edits the document and returns it in .docx format, so User 3 now knows that it was edited in 2007. User 3 will need to open and save the document in .doc format before uploading the document to the Negotiation Task.


Microsoft Word 2010 Support

As of the creation of this document, Ariba does not offer support for Microsoft Word 2010. It is a roadmap item, and we are planning it for a future release. You can, of course, upload “flat” Microsoft Word 2010 documents (documents which are not assembled, do not have an Outline View, and aren’t used in any of the integrations discussed in this document.


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Beverly Dunn is a Customer Success Manager with Ariba. All customers are invited to join the private Customer Success group on Ariba Exchange, where you can access the Customer Success    Spotlights, Lunch 'n Learn Webinar calendar and replays, and the  Ariba   Knowledge Nuggets.