BDocuments, Previews & Search
The HotDocs library is the main entry point for both assembling documents as well as modifying templates. From the library one can preview templates to determine their appropriateness, as well as organize templates by topic.
The Library, however is no the only way to access HotDocs. From a Master template or interview one can assemble multiple documents using a logic-driven front end
Basic HotDocs Library
Using a branching tree, one can navigate through a large collection of templates.
With HotDocs 2005, came the implementation of a preview function which applies both in the Library as well during the assembly process
Search functions are fully enabled in the preview mode, allowing the template developer to check for particular codes across multiple templates without having to open each one.
Control & Configuration
With HotDocs 2005, LexisNexis added a number of new control to the options panel. The COM object can be controlled by other program, as well as by the user.
Access to HotDocs Options
HotDocs options can be access by a menu or a toolbar button at any time during the session.
Document Assembly Options
The traditional options can be found on the first page. But there is now a navigation tree on the left that lets you move quickly through the options.
With this panel you can configure the color and fonts that form the HotDocs Interview. With HotDocs 2006 you will be able to apply those schema on a Field by Field basis.
Folders and Reference Paths
A key feature to managing multiple libraries and template sets is the use of Reference Paths. They allow the administrator to move whole collections of templates, and at the same time guaranty user access to the templates they need on the server.
Improved Component Manager
The HotDocs component manager is the “brains” of the HotDocs application. While the library is used for managing templates, the component file contains all variables and computations and dialogs that make up the HotDocs interview.
Docking the Component Manager
With HotDocs 2005, you can open the component manager from a template and “dock” it at the side. This gives you the ability to “find” the appropriate variable and literally drag and drop it onto the template.
Finding the Right Component
HotDocs 2005 lets you search for a particular component, not only by name, but by title, usage in scripts or merge text or help text or on particular dialog components.
With HotDocs, there is a need to create similar sets of variables to serve the same function, such as entering an address. In this case, one would want to use the same field prompts and variable types for a Borrower, as well as a lender. This is made each with the Duplicate Variables function.
The HotDocs interview is no longer a series of seriatim dialogs. The dialogs are now folded into a single cohesive interview with support for complex navigation, by wizard buttons, by outline tree, and even via a document preview.
HotDocs 2005 retains the old Previous/Next buttons, but add a First, Last and Finish, as well as a Previous Unanswered Variable and Next Unanswered Variable
With HotDocs 2005 you can display an Outline Tree. This allows the user to skip ahead, or answer questions out of sequence. This is invaluable when the user is reassembling a document and needs to make a few minor changes.
The Document Preview tab, if enabled, allows the developer and the user to see the direct result of the answers given during the interview.
Hotlinks out to the relevant Dialog
From the document preview, the user can double-client on a variable and be brought directly to the dialog where that particular question is ask. Changes can me made and the user returned to the Preview tab.
Comparison and Scenario Building
With the Compare plugin to HotDocs the user can take a “snapshot” of the document under one scenario of answers, then change the answers in the interview, and run a compare to see the effect on the language of the document.
Corrections & Edits
HotDocs excels at tools to debug templates. One of the best ways to debug the coding of a template is to run it in test mode from within Word. In test mode, one can both access the interview, preview the results in the document, as well as directly make changes to any prompts, dialogs or variables without leaving test mode.
Launch the Dialog Editor directly from the test Interview
It is now easier than ever to refine and script the Interview. This is true because you can run the assembly in Test Mode and directly access the Dialog object with a right-click menu option.
Make changes in the Dialog Script
Just click on the Script tab of the dialog, and a world of options is opened to Hide/Show variable, even to set their properties or run computations based on those values. Just click OK and you can instantly see the result on your screen.
Simply right click on a component of the dialog and you have access to the variable definition, or you can go to the first point in the document where the variable is used.
Dialog layout is a matter of drag and drop
On the layout tab, you can layout your variables, three in a row, or set a variable to wide. You have even finer control on the variable properties itself.
The difference between a well-programmed HotDocs application and a mediocre merge tool is the a particular computation variable – the INTERVIEW computation. This variable, if configured by the template developer properly, instructs HotDocs what dialogs to display and in what order in the outline tree.
However, in the hands of Basha Systems, we also use this computation to move data from one dialog to another, create dynamic lookup lists, and set individual variable prompts and data summaries.
The Interview Computation
The INTERVIEW computation (and yes it must be capitalized) is the key. If there is one in the component file, HotDocs will look to that computation exclusively to determine how to display the interview.
A look inside the INTERVIEW
The INTERVIEW computation contains a series of ordered ASK statements. Some of can be nested under conditional logic which include whether or not prerequisite variables have been answered.
Use of populators in the INTERVIEW
At Basha Systems, we have introduced the use of data-populators that take data from one dialog, and use it to set the values or the options for variables on other dialogs. By placing them in the INTERVIEW at the appropriate place, these commands will be processed dynamically in the interview.
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