Software

Compressing your Office documents with NXPowerLite


There is a tool in town called NXPowerLite that promises to dramatically reduce the file size of media-rich Microsoft Office files – Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

NXPowerLite achieves its compression by optimization on the actual graphic files and objects located in the support file formats. The ability to edit the file by the original application remains unaffected.

However, if your file contains no graphics of embedded documents, according to the site:

… However, if your files contain no graphics or embedded documents, you are unlikely to experience much compression.

eWeek ran a battery of tests on it and were impressed by the product’s ability to reduce the sizes of image and object laden files while maintaining the quality of the files involved. You can read more about it here.

It is worth noting that the company offers a NXPowerLite Development Kit – which is a single Windows DLL that can be scripted via COM. The promise I see here would be the ability to transparently compress bulky Office documents as they passes through a WAN gateway or email server.

Would such an implementation be something you would consider implementing on your company’s network? Join the discussion.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

11 comments
paulmah
paulmah

Would such an implementation be something you would consider implementing on your company?s network?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

How might compressed Office files compare too running regular maintenance to compress files on the NTFS partition or containing your document files within a compressed NTFS folder tree. Indavidually compressed Office files can be stored anywhere but is there speed or compression advantages too this over NTFS?

SteveTheWirePuller
SteveTheWirePuller

If its meant for a company wide install, I don't under the pricing structure. $45 is too much for a single user, esp if you are talking about a network wide implementation. This is also begging the oft repeated question, why are Word files getting so big?

paulmah
paulmah

Its not really appropriate to do a comparison to a filesystem-based compression. Based on the FAQ/Docs, (my hypothesis on) how NXPowerlite works is by compressing individual items/objects that are embedded into Word, for example. Perhaps the user dragged a photo taken from a 6 megapixel camera straight into the doc. Rather than live with a multi-megabytes Word document, NXPoewerlite will attempt to resample the image down to a much lower bit rate that will still look fine in the Word document. There are other tricks of course, this is but one of them.

paulmah
paulmah

According to their website, there is a volume pricing available (http://www.nxpowerlite.com/purchase-pricing.php) Looks like it can be as low as US$25 for 50 users and above. Many might still consider that too high probably. Anyway, pertaining to why Word files are getting bigger, I suspect one of the reasons is that Word doesn't actually do anything to compress embedded image files. For a half computer-literate user, it can be problematic in the cases where the said user tries to drag and drop that huge graphic files to embed into Word...

Granville
Granville

That is exactly where my first thought went on reading the original article! As the Info Sys Manager for a 70+ user site I one of my frustrations (don?t get me started on the rest) is to get people to THINK about the sizes an images they use. Is it to be printed, sent to a publishing company or just to ?pretty up? a sale spiel? So, if I could compress these documents BEFORE they hit our network is would reduce some of the issues we experience with slow access, PCs ?freezing? etc., etc., etc. The addition of forcing a compression of all emailed documents, or imbedded objects, would save band-width on our gateway and, if widely used, save some load on the Internet. Ok, I?ll stop before someone takes me for a salesman for this. ;-) But I do like!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Let us know the project name so we can see how you make out with it.

paulmah
paulmah

I must say its a pretty interesting angle you're driving at. If they can make an office plugin that gives the option to perform the optimization transparently, it will probably increase the attractiveness to some of the IT administrators out there.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

From some of the files I've seen, have the IT geeks implement it at the read/write level. Sure your user can drag that three gig image into there illistrator page, it'll be made reasonable during the save process. No waste of drive space to store it. No waste of network resources to transfer it. An interesting little utility though.

paulmah
paulmah

The only reason it might be worth getting is that it doesn't just do a 'dumb' compression. Rather, it uses varying methods of actually reducing the document size, like the image re-sampling method that you just described. For a large organization with many less-literate users and heavy users of MS Office, I reckon it might actually reduce WAN costs sufficient to justify getting. Though it does appear that additional efforts on the part of the IT team would have to go into implementing it automatically at the gateway or e-mail level.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Where normally the user would have to be aware enough to reduce images applicably before importing into there document. I had the idea that it was compressing the entire file more like drive compression or a .zip would where it's actually dealing with the individual imbedded objects.

Editor's Picks