MS Access and Word/HTML doc integration

Subject: MS Access and Word/HTML doc integration
From: "Adam Newton" <anewton -at- eduprise -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 13:26:16 -0500


I'm looking for a solution to what I think is an increasingly common
problem/challenge for tech writer types. At least my suspicions seem likely
based on (1) ad hoc evidence as the sole documentation person at my company,
and (2) the most recent issue of the Intercom that I read.

Basically, I need to develop some kind of db that could house
documentation/information chunks that could be used/reused in a number of
online and hardcopy formats. These chunks would probably include procedures
and boilerplate that could be used in hard copy training handouts, hard copy
end user manuals, HTML-based online help, and other HTML-based doc pieces
(tutorials, lessons, and so on). The tools I have at hand are Office 97,
Lotus Notes, HTML editors, SQL.

I'm assuming (dangerous) that it would probably be best to house these
chunks in a way that is independent of formatting. Thus, I'd be preserving
the content of, say, a procedure as flat text in the db, and I'd rely on my
various Word and HTML templates to do the work of prettifying/formatting the
chunks in the final documents.

For the hard copy pieces, I'm hoping someone might be able to share
experience with building an Access db that Word could in some way
communicate with to grab the requisite pieces. Not really mailmerge, but
more like sucking chunks of unformatted text into a Word template, but at
the same time making the text that's sucked into the Word doc updateable
like a field. The SQL/Access developer and I have had a very good
conversation about this, but the main stumbling block we're encountering is
probably just a result of combined ignorance. We can imagine a scenario in
which we can suck the text out of the Access db, but we're not precisely
sure how we'd make it updateable without having to rerun the routine every
time a change is made to the info chunk housed in the db. I'm thinking about
a scheme whereby I could, in effect, Update All Fields in an existing Word
doc when I know a change has been made to the info chunk in the db.

I'd also appreciate any info people could share on a similar scenario
involving HTML documents. Keeping in mind that ASP and/or ColdFusion do not
seem to be in the scope of economy at the current time.

A dialog about possible solutions would be very welcome.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to participate/help,

Adam Newton
Documentation Developer (

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