Surely Word's Embedded Audio Can't Too Crippled To Export or Control
July 16, 2007 3:48 PM   Subscribe

How to change the program Word opens embedded audio with? Alternatively, suggestions for foot-pedal software that plays well with audio embedded in Word or RTF documents.

When you have an embedded audio file in Word, the only program Word will open it with is Sound Recorder. (doesn't matter what wav files are associated with in Explorer) Is there a way to change this behavior?

If not, is there a way to extract the audio as a wav and save it somewhere? (I am aware that you can open it, copy and paste it into a new Sound Recorder window, then save it wherever you want, but I'm hoping for something simpler for our transcriptionists)

I'm also open to some script or program that will parse the RTF and export the wav file. (I could modify it to make it easy for our users)

And if neither is possible, does anyone have recommendations for foot-pedal software the plays nice with embedded RTF/Word audio? We have WAVPedal now, but it has the limitation that it needs to be able to get its hand on an actual wav file, it won't control Sound Recorder or Word's internal sound player.

We are using Word 2003 on XP.
posted by icebourg to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Oh dear, nobody replied. In that case, I think the problem is not that straightforward, and I don't have a good answer for you, but I can point you in the right direction I think.

First, Word is a word processor - a glorified typewritter or simplified typesetting machine. Audio/video etc doesn't really have a place in such things - blame it on feature creep that it does.

First up, put all the files in one directory with unique names for the files.

Next you're going to need to write a VBA macro which does the dirty work for you. I don't speak VBA so I'm just going to explain each step that needs to be done.

1. Read the names of the files into an array.
2. Fore each file with the name FILENAME do this:
2a. Grab the audio portion of the file (there will be ways to do this with VBA), and save as a .wav as FILENAME.wav.
2b. Grab the text portion of the file and then save it as either plain text or rtf or html. If HTML, you'll probably want to run it through HTML tidy to unbreak word's html export. after you're done. Save this as FILENAME.txt/rtf/html (whichever you chose).

3. Optional but recommended. Convert all the wav files to mp3 with lame.
4. Optional. Programatically place a note (or link in the case of html export) at the top of each file which points to the extracted audio or mp3 (be sure to use relative links for the html links by the way).

The moral of the story is not to use a word processor for things that aren't related to paper-document-like-things - i.e. don't embed audio or video.

Good luck. It's probably take 1/2 a day or less for an experienced VBA person to do this if you have a budget by the way.
posted by singingfish at 6:39 PM on July 17, 2007

Thanks for your answer. Just for clarification, our software exports it as an RTF document. It's stupid and I would have never done it this way. (and after spending about two hours on the phone with the developers, they couldn't do what I really wanted: which was to keep the RTF doc and WAV file separate) I don't get to make these software decisions, I just have to deal with the unfortunate aftermath.

I will look into the VBA thing. We just need the WAV file, we don't care about the rest of the RTF.
posted by icebourg at 8:52 PM on July 17, 2007

Umm, you could look at the perl module RTF::Parser if you can find someone who doesn't mind hacking a bit of perl. It seems to have functions to extract binary data from the rtf file which is what you need in this case. IMO VBA is an underdocumented, over complex non-portable pile of ... well you know. Anyway a perl solution would be independent of office which would be a good thing. It'd also make it easier to couple with non-microsoft tools like lame. Untested, absolutely no warranty
posted by singingfish at 3:19 PM on July 18, 2007

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