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The Office Letter
Blink Section - Product Reviews

From Volume 3, Number 33
(February 2, 2004)


DATAPROMPTER 2003: EASIEST DOCUMENT ASSEMBLY

Last summer we reviewed DataPrompter, an add-in for Word that prompts you for data and then inserts the data throughout your document wherever needed. For example, if you're an attorney and you're working on a contract or a will, DataPrompter can prompt you for the client's name and other pertinent data. Then the program inserts the data throughout your document in as many places as you specify. This means you can take a standard contract or will and literally in a matter of seconds modify it to suit each new client.

Suffice it to say that I was impressed with the power and simplicity of the program. And now there's a new version of the program, DataPrompter 2003, which is even more impressive.

DataPrompter 2003 ($149; 10-user license $999) takes automation to new levels by permitting you to assemble new documents from existing ones, from portions of existing ones, and/or from bits and pieces of your favorite boilerplate text. After all the pieces are assembled, DataPrompter 2003 automatically prompts you for any data that may need to be changed. For industries where repetitive documents are a way of life (the legal, medical, real estate, and insurance industries come to mind), the program can pay for itself in time saved ... in no time at all.


An Example Says It Best

It may be best to explain what DataPrompter 2003 can do by way of example. Imagine you're a salesman working on a proposal that covers not only your basic product but also several accessories for the product.
DataPrompter lets you assemble a
document from components, including
multiple copies of any component.
Click to enlarge

Let's assume you have a Word document that describes the basic product and you also have a separate document for each accessory. With DataPrompter 2003, you can call up a list of all your products and all the accessories, then choose the ones you want to include in your proposal. Then, with a click of your mouse, DataPrompter assembles the selected documents into a finished proposal. Not only that, but it also prompts you for data to personalize the proposal for your current customer.

If desired, the list of documents that you selected can be saved for re-use on future proposals. Also, if a customer asks you to add or delete an accessory, you can call up your proposal and add or delete the corresponding document without losing any customer data you may have entered. (See illustration.)

DataPrompter integrates with Outlook as well as Word, so it's a good tool for building repetitive e-mail.

DataPrompter is generous in the types of data that it can prompt you for. It can prompt you for short bits of text (up to 128 characters) or longer passages (multiple paragraphs, for example), dates, and numbers. You can select entries from a list instead of having to type them out. If you select two items from a list, it's smart enough to display the results as "Selection 1 and Selection 2" or as "Selection 1 or Selection 2," whichever you prefer. If you select three or more items, it can be programmed to display the results as "Selection 1, Selection 2, and Selection 3" or as "Selection 1, Selection 2, or Selection 3" (and variations of these options). As in the previous version of DataPrompter let you easily define "switchable" fields -- for example, gender fields that switch "him" to "her" or vice-versa depending on whether you select "male" or "female" from a dropdown list.

New in DataPrompter 2003 is a feature that lets you execute a massive search-and-replace to convert your existing documents into DataPrompter-enabled documents. Another big plus: like its predecessor, DataPrompter 2003 remains easy to learn. A tutorial gives you the basics, and it's fun to play around with all the possibilities. Despite all the power DataPrompter packs, this won't become shelfware -- easy to install but too complex to learn. You should have a handle on the entire process in under 30 minutes.

If creating repetitive documents is part of your job description, there's no simpler way to build them from bits and pieces of boilerplate and existing content than with DataPrompter 2003. For more information, visit http://www.wordsite.com/products/dpdas.htm.

-- James E. Powell

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