Most corporate organizations are now using Microsoft Word as their word processor of choice and most of them have a corporate Intranet too. Consequently it is a common requirement for organizations to pass not just e-mail messages but also to pass documents and forms between departments electronically.
One of the robust features of Word is the Word Template – the template_name.dot file. The standard template supplied with the product is called normal.dot and is usually located in a Templates folder on the C:\drive of the user or on the network. (The location does vary depending on the operating system and the status of the user, so we will delve no further here). Templates determine a whole range of ‘standard’ items such as fonts and sizes for different paragraph heading levels as well as spacing, numbering, tabs and so on. However, a template can be even more powerful when used to provide a standard form in regular use which needs to be completed and sent to its administrator.
CHL has been called in on a number of occasions to design and build such templates. For example, to produce customized Purchase Order Forms for subsidiary companies of a major construction company; document change requests and event reporting in an international pharmaceutical company.
In the illustration above a form has been created whereby staff may make requests for change to a reference document. The form looks just like the paper equivalent but has had fields added, shown as grey rectangles, where standardized information can be collected. By clicking on a field to make it active it shows in black and assistance (or online Help) can be provided either as text appearing on the Status line at the bottom of the active Word Window, or as a separate pop up window when the user presses the F1 key on the keyboard. Some fields are so determinate that a drop down list or check box can be provided in order to improve the quality of data capture. For example, the Month date field cannot be anything other than one of the standard 12 months provided on the list. Even text fields can have advice provided and have their length and format determined.
Stepped Enquiry and Interactive Forms with XML
See the CHL Contact form examples in use at the Contact Form page using Quask or Acrobat.