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Community members answer questions submitted by their peers.     April 3, 2003

PAUL EASTON, PRODUCT REVIEW: ACTIVEWORDS

TechnoLawyer member Bryan Sims asks: "My wife works in a job that is very cyclical in nature. During her slow times, she likes to develop forms, etc., that assist her when she is in her busy time. Right now, she is working on writing macros in WordPerfect and is wondering if anyone knows of a good manual or tutorial on writing macros in WordPerfect. Any suggestions are welcome."

Maggie Fisher wrote:
"Finally another macro lover! Your wife is a wise woman to know the benefit of creating and using macros. There are very simple ways to create in WordPerfect and if you want her to just email me direct feel free. I have macros that do the following for me all day long on my computer:"

Like Technolawyer member Maggie Fisher, and like Bryan Sim's wife, I too am a macro lover. One problem with MS Word or Corel WordPerfect macros, however, is that you have to open the programs to use their macros. Almost half of the functions that Ms. Fisher lists would be even more useful if one could execute them with the program closed, regardless of which program you are currently working in (e.g. open files, bring up a letter format, bring up a pleading format, bring up a fax form, create envelopes and labels).

With ActiveWords you can do that.

ActiveWords https://www.activewords.com/, which has been previously reviewed by other TechnoLawyer Community members, is a program that allows you to assign a word to a program, folder, file, Web site, certain pre-configured program functions, block of text, or a script. With as few as three keystrokes, you can launch any program on your computer. The best part of the program for a Macro lover is the ActiveWords Scripting Language that allows you do perform a series of commands by executing one simple command.

SOME EXAMPLES:

1. I created the active word "ltr," which opens my letter template in MS Word.

2. I have created active words for my various e-mail signatures. I don't have to worry about deleting the default signature from messages in which I don't want it and I no longer have to bother selecting a signature from a drop down menu. I also have an active word for my "confidential" warning that I want in many, but not all, of my e-mail messages. I just type "confid" at the top of a message and hit "F8" and, like magic, it is replaced with my full notice.

3. I have active words for certain boiler plate language and common phrases and I can insert them in ANY PROGRAM: MS Word, Word Perfect, an e-mail ... anywhere text can be inserted.

4. If you have a secure Web site that you often visit, but which doesn't have a "remember password" option, you can just count the number of times that you have to hit the tab key to access the login fields and you can create an ActiveWord that will launch your Web browser, open the Web page, and log into the site.

5. You can have an active word run other active words. For certain projects or tasks, I often find that I need to have several programs and multiple documents open. A lot of time gets wasted launching the programs and opening the documents. With ActiveWords, one command will do it all for you. For example, you could create to ActiveWord "research" (or just "r"), which would (1) open your research outline template in MS Word with the document navigation pane active and appropriate tools bars shown, and (2) launch MS Explorer and navigate to LexisNexis or Westlaw. If you often do work for the same client, you could further customize the ActiveWord Script to login into Lexis for that client and open up your billing software for that client.

With ActiveWords Script you are only limited by your imagination. I didn't find the learning curve for ActiveWords Scripting Language very high, but looking at code like:

"<"C:\Windows\Notepad.exe"><TAB:8> <F5><ENTER>" may be confusing and scare some away from making full use of the program. Those who are already writing advanced macros in their word processing programs should not find it difficult to learn.

It would be nice if ActiveWords had a "record macro" feature like MS Word or WordPerfect, but I'm not sure this is possible. Also, I'm surprised that the company doesn't have an online users' forum where its customers could post useful scripts they developed and help each other write script for more complicated operations. [Correction after publication: ActiveWord Systems, Inc. does have a user group to exchange scripts and information among users.]

ActiveWords customer support is superb. When I had trouble setting up an active word to run address book searches in Outlook on a public folder (an address book shared over the Network), I received a prompt and detailed response with the ActiveScript that would do what I wanted and line by line explanations of the code that explained to me exactly how it worked.

Even if you never use the advanced functions possible with the scripting language, the time saved with the easy-to-use pre-configured commands and applications make this program worth looking in to.

Paul C. Easton
paul@easton.us
New York, NY

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