Re: Single-sourcing, sort of

Subject: Re: Single-sourcing, sort of
From: "Bill Hall" <bill -dot- hall -at- hotkey -dot- net -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 20:23:50 +1000

Beth Friedman says,

"Our company does a lot of RFP responses. We have a standard RFP response
document (in Word) with a couple of hundred standard questions; usually
within those is the material to fill in the RFP questions.


Can you think of any way to type the number in the response document and
have it expand to the answer the number corresponds to? The obvious
solution would be autotext, but that's static, and the numbers change as
new answers get interpolated in."

This is the kind of situation where smart applications can be extremely
helpful. These can be DIY solutions as described in several of the other
responses. However, Tenix is currently implementing an XML precedents based
document generator called SmartPrecedent developed across the river from us
in Melbourne by SpeedLegal (

In conjunction with any WebDav compliant database, SmartPrecedent allows you
to build a master document based on any XML DTD. SpeedLegal provides
contract and correspondence DTD's, but we have also tested the system with
DocBook and an XMLised version of the Def Aust 5629a DTD for technical
manuals. Although we are initially implementing the system to make live
easier for our corporate legal staff, I am having a serious look at the
system as an authoring environment for repetitive technical documentation.

The master document can be marked up to include conditional logic, shared
texts, variables, auto numbered clauses and paragraphs and a variety of
other "smart" constructs for document automation allowing documents to be
automatically generated simply by supplying variable information and
selecting clauses/paragraphs in response to end user generated

SmartPrecedent also includes the capability to select paragraphs as required
from a "clause" library. Output is to Word and PDF, with the possibility to
import clauses directly from the XML clause library into the word document
being edited.

It is a comparatively easy task to import existing Word precedent libraries
into SpeedLegal's XML format as Tenix is doing with our non-disclosure
agreements initially, and then service agreements once our corporate legal
and business development staff become familiar with the NDAs. Once the
initial import is done, the users don't have to know anything about XML to
build logic into their documents or to produce instances for delivery.

Although SmartPrecedent is more expensive for an editing environment than
FrameMaker, it would probably be a cost effective investment for anyone
producing lots of repetitive documentation, e.g., RFP responses. We are
definitely intending to apply it to our own Australian defence industry
bidding environment.


Bill Hall
Documentation Systems Analyst
Strategy and Development Group
Tenix Defence
Nelson House, Nelson Place
Williamstown, Vic. 3016 Australia
mailto:bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com (work)
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