Joining the Chicago Project

So you want to contribute to the Chicago Project? Great! You don't have to be an expert coder or spend a lot of time. You can help out a lot by just reporting any bugs you find in the day to day usage of the Chicago Project tools.

Start out by test driving xlhtml. Download the latest source code, and compile it. You then need to get an account at Source Forge, if you don't have one already. You'll need the SF account to report bugs.

Whenever you begin work on something that's more than a day's work, please let the developers know about it. Post your plans to the Developer Mailing List

If you're working on fixing a bug, make a note of it in the bug report to track your progress and to catch the attention of others.

If no bug exists already, then file a bug and assign it to yourself. When adding features, consider adding a feature request for the feature and assigning it to yourself.

Publicizing your efforts lets others know what you're working on so they can coordinate their work with yours, offer help, and avoid duplicating your work. It opens your work up for peer review, and provides an archive so the same issues don't need to be repeated. Also, if someone else is working on the same thing, they can let you know and save you a lot of work.

What Needs To Be Done?

Completely Document the Excel File Format

Step 1:   Identify sources of information on the Excel file format.

The following sources contain a large amount of information on the Excel file format.

If you have any other sources of information on the file format, please contact me

Step 2: Document features of the file format, which are not currently documented.

This will be a very difficult part of the project. Here are some things that need documentation:
  1. Excel Encryption
    Documentation: I have written a paper on this subject The information in the paper, was found after almost two
    weeks of searching the internet. All I did was put it in one place.
    Source Code: The wvWare project, has source code to open an encrypted word document if the correct password is
    supplied. I have began to modify the source code to handle Excel workbooks. It can be found here It currently
  2. Biff8 OBJ record types. Documentation & Source Code: None that I know of
  3. How the CF record stores formats. Documentation & Source Code: None that I know of

Step 3: Gather this documentation into one place

  I think that any information we find, should be merged with the OpenOffice documentation


The Chicago project road map, can be found here. If you are looking for something to work on, you can find it in the roadmap.

If you are looking to create a patch, the following guidelines may be useful:

To create a patch:
  1. Pull the latest code from CVS
  2. Make your changes
  3. Submit the patch to here

If you are having any trouble with this process, or need some help, please send me mail.

Also check out the Bug Reports and Feature Requests


Packaging takes source code, and produces binary and source packages for distribution and installation. If you have any experience with creating binary packages for the UNIX or Windows platform, please contact me