The OpenDoPE approach to document automation
OpenDoPE is a set of conventions for doing document assembly using Open XML (the ISO-standard Microsoft Word docx file format), specifically, its content control databinding architecture.
What is a content control?
A content control is a container for content. It is a standard feature of the docx file format.
It provides a natural, modern way to insert text, for example
Dear Click here to enter text.
A rich text content control can contain paragraphs and tables, or just a run of text.
The OpenXML element for a content control is <w:sdt>.
What is content control data binding?
A user can include an arbitrary XML document in their docx file - such an XML file is called a custom xml part.
A content control can be bound to an element in the custom xml file, via an XPath expression. This is done with a <w:databinding>:
What does OpenDoPE add?
So Open XML provides an elegant way of inserting data (variable replacement/basic mail merge).
What it does not do though, is provide any guidance as to how to implement:
conditional inclusion/exclusion of paragraphs or other units of content
repeat (eg of list items, table rows, or other units of content)
inclusion/insertion of other documents (content reuse)
a Convention for representing the above features using content controls and Custom XML parts
reference software implementing the Convention