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Microsoft FrontPage - TPL Files Get Converted to HTML
By Raj Pillai, Copyright 2005-2007
 Version 1.24  Updated 23/10/2007

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Introduction:

PHP Development Template or .tpl files that you are were able to edit directly within Microsoft FrontPage 200x versions suddenly convert documents into html and appear in a new page.

The Issue in Detail:

You have been editing .tpl files within FrontPage. Suddenly you see that whenever you attempt to open the same document, it displays a conversion window "Translating RTF to HTML" and then proceeds to display the document with modifications in a new page as seen below:

Screen Capture of the Conversion in the Flash (.swf) format.

 

Why Does This Happen?

If you are experiencing the said issue, the chances are that you have installed ActiveSync software.  If you were to uninstall it, then everything returns to normal.

When I saw this issue, I knew from the beginning that the issue would be with respect to the converters.  However, there was no way to disable it or identify which converter is causing the problem.  Although the KB article - 205684  is for FP2000, it seems to explain what is happening here.  To quote from the article -

"How Does FrontPage Determine Which Converter to Run?

First the conversion routine looks at the extension of the file. For each converter registry entry that matches the extension of the file, that converter's entry point for the IsFormatCorrect routine is run. This routine reads the first few bytes of the incoming file and determines whether it understands the format. The first converter that understands the format is then run to convert the file to RTF format."


The ActiveSync converters that are installed picks up the file extension causing it to import as a RTF document and later renders it as HTML.  The cause might be due to the same extension being used in various programs.  One of them being Microsoft Access Workflow Designer.

Solutions To Overcome The Problem:

If you are working on only one file and that to for a short while, my recommendation would be to rename the extension as a .html file.  This will enable FrontPage to display it the way it used to earlier and you should be able to edit it.  Once you are finished with the editing, rename the extension back to its original form.

However, if you work on such documents on a regular basis, then the above solution is not a convenient approach.  In such scenarios, you will need to disable the ActiveSync converters.  Disabling the converters is not possible via  ActiveSync.  You will need to identify and rename the converters so that it is not loaded.

After several trial and error approach, I managed to locate the converters that seem to cause the issue described above.  To disable them, do the following:

  1. Go to the ActiveSync installation folder.  The default path being:

    C:\Program Files\Microsoft ActiveSync
     

  2. Identify the following two DLL files-
     

    • pwiofcnv.dll

    • pwoffcnv.dll
       

  3. Right click and rename the extension of these files.  This way the files are not loaded.  Lets rename it to look like -
     

    • pwiofcnv.dllold

    • pwoffcnv.dllold

    Note:  I don't recommend deleting the files.  If you ever need ActiveSync to use the converters, you can simply rename it back.

  4. Once you have done this, attempt opening the file that was not getting displayed correctly and you will see the problem is solved.

You need to note that if you keep File Conversion in ActiveSync enabled, some of the files will be using these converters.  Therefore the renamed converters will no longer be available and the file will not be able to convert.  It will copy the files without conversion.  Most of the programs in your mobile device will be able to open up the native file format.  To access File Conversion Settings in ActiveSync do the following:

  1. Open ActiveSync on your Desktop PC

  2. Click Tools -> Options -> Rules tab

  3. Click the "Conversion Settings" button
     

Update for ActiveSync 4.x users:

The newer versions of ActiveSync i.e. 4.x versions seem to auto-repair the files that you rename as explained above.  Therefore renaming the file will not help solve the problem.  In such a scenario, you will need to disable the converters from the registry itself.  You will need to disable the path under the following keys within the registry:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Text Converters\Import\MSInkWriter

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Text Converters\Import\MSInkWriterTemplate

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Text Converters\Import\MSPocketInkWord

The string value for "Path" under the above mentioned registry keys would be pointing to the path of "pwiofcnv.dll".  Edit the path and and make it look like "pwiofcnv.dllold".  Basically pointing it to an invalid file.  This will prevent the converter from loading.
 

At the moment I have noticed this behavior only with files having .tpl extension, if you find this article applicable to any other file extension, I would appreciate if you could inform me about it.


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