Microsoft Word's built-in capabilities for integrating XML shown in the previous chapter provide a foundation for creating XML documents in Word. The results, however, feel more like an import/export option than a complete application. In many cases, that functionality is perfectly acceptable, but Microsoft also provides a set of options for creating more interactive environments for editing XML documents in Word through the Smart Documents framework.
Smart Documents let you create templates that help users create the information that goes in the document, taking a huge step beyond the material covered in the previous chapter, which showed how to build spaces in the document where users could work. The Smart Document approach lets you integrate all kinds of data sources, from multiple XML documents to web services, and expands Word's XML frontiers substantially.
At the same time, however, Smart Documents come with a price: they require working with managed code, the application object model, and an API that is far from elegant. It takes a fair amount of effort to move from an XML-enabled Word document to Smart Documents, and you'll need to evaluate your projects carefully to determine if the benefits are worth the effort.