Back in the late '70s, Peter found himself responsible for a large publications department that was being supplied with copy on floppy disk from a wide variety of word processors. In those days few of them were compatible with any other, and only Sprint made provision to 'export' files in other formats. His job included getting the copy into his Wang WP system. We say "in those days" but are they any different today when Word 6 will not read Word 7?
Surely it should not be beyond the power of man's ingenuity to devise an output standard that all word processors could write to? But then we wouldn't be driven to buy expensive upgrades, would we?
His solution was to use Turbo Basic to write small translation programs that read the files and re-wrote them in a form he could use. This came into its own when processing data files from the mainframe, some of which were huge and would have taken weeks to key manually into the phototypesetter.
Things have certainly changed in the meantime, but similar problems are still around.
He was asked recently to make up a web page from a document that had some large tables in it. Converting to HTML didn't work because the tabbed portion was not tabulated properly. The only way to get it in was to create a table and cut and paste the content cell by cell.
This time it was Delphi to the rescue and we now have a small program that takes a tab separated table, breaks it up, and creates a proper HTML table. If you would like help with this kind of problem, send Peter a message.