File and template selection
Adding a file
at the start of the document creation process adds a wealth of contextual information that many templates will rely upon in order to populate all of the necessary data. Selecting a file also limits the selection of templates to those pertainent to the file's workgroup
. If composing a reply to an existing document, you can populate the 'in reply to' field.
Once a template is selected, the document type
and file format will be displayed, and the wizard can be advanced.
The template's document type will determine which dates and roles must be populated in order to build the document. Some fields may be pre-populated with default (or contextual) values, others may require input.
Enclosures can also be added. For e-mails, the enclosures will be automatically attached to the message, optionally in PDF format*. Clicking the Options
link will allow you to select from a list of additional actions
that can be performed on attachments before they are added to the e-mail. For all types of documents, the relationship between the document and its enclosures will be preserved and recalled when the document is sent
As information is added to the document, its description
will be constructed automatically according to the rules dictated by the document type. The end result can be manually amended if necessary.
* - PDF conversion requires an appropriate plug-in
and is dependant on the format of the attachment.
Options for document building
Document creation can operate in several modes; normally, generated documents are uploaded to the document library for later retrieval, editing, finalisation and sending. In this scenario, a folder
must be specified. If, however, the document is trivial (or there is simply no merit in storing it), it can be saved to the member's workstation or sent directly to the appropriate editing application (i.e. Word, Outlook, etc).
For e-mail-based templates where the content can be built with no further input, ContactsLaw can send the e-mail immediately after it is created. This is useful for form letters, marketing e-mails, etc.
Preview dynamic content
After all options have been set, ContactsLaw retrieves the dynamic content from the database and applies formatting rules
. The results are displayed in summary form to allow for review. In most cases, merge fields will be populated with a single value, but in some situations there may be either an empty value or a selection of values.
At this point, the user can make a selection from the list of possible values or manually enter content to be inserted into the finished document. Note that any detail added at this point is temporary and will not be written back to the database. If a template consistently requires detail to be manually added, it may be necessary to update the relevant files or contacts, or review the template itself.