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- From: Andy Dent <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Ketil Z Malde <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 20:37:32 +0800
At 11:25 +0200 29/6/99, Ketil Z Malde wrote:
>No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that pretending the
>structure is automatic and derived from formatting information is
>bogus, void and in error. If you want "good data", you need to
>educate users about structure. Yes, I know this is hard and
>unrealistic. It is still the right thing.
Or you have a corporate filter which rejects "bad" documents.
>Look, Word can't even enforce the use of styles, I've waded in
>documents where somebody took a lot of effort to set up the .dot
>files, only to find users are just inserting formatting information
I'm reminded of a project we did last year, processing Word files to
create an online contract writing tool. This was for a government
organisation producing about 2 contracts/day.
Users filled in a page of basic contract details and then selected
clauses that would apply. The tool generated an HTML preview online
and an RTF final copy.
It parsed HTML and RTF generated by Word into appropriate fragments
(maintained in parallel) so relied heavily on documents conforming to
the structure designed by the contracts manager.
The decision which made the project work very well was to enforce the
structure using a macro which ran in Word and attempted to clean up
documents (eg: incorrect multiple paragraphs in tables) but
highlighted invalid sections.
The combination of minor assistance with validation worked very well.
The only user complaint came when they found that our system worked
so well only because of the tight rules, and couldn't be easily
Andy Dent BSc MACS AACM, Software Designer, A.D. Software, Western Australia
OOFILE - Database, Reports, Graphs, GUI for c++ on Mac, Unix & Windows
PP2MFC - PowerPlant->MFC portability
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