The tfdocs.com web service was designed to do what The Form Letter Machine does, but is much more flexible and powerful, and uses xml as its native format.
But users having to hand craft the xml data for it has proven to be it's main downfall (at least that's my interpretation, along with the normal downfall for me which is no energy or resources to spread the word about it).
The Form Letter Machine is easy (though not 100% intuitive) to create new trees with, but is somewhat limited and simplified in what you can create, and uses a proprietary tree data format which is not well suited for adding functionality.
So i think the "proper" solution would be to rewrite The Form Letter Machine to use the same xml native data as the online version, and make it suitable for the advanced features. I'm just a bit torn as to the best way to do it.
One way that might make the most sense would be to:
- Use the same native xml format and language for the desktop version
- Support the same features in the desktop version as the web version
- Use an embedded web browser in the desktop version to display the tree and contents of the resulting document
- Use a custom tree configuration editor, similar to the one in the current Tree Form Machine.
I'm just nervous about using the web technology in the desktop version, but on the other hand there are lots of neat things you can do with the web version that would be nice to bring into desktop version, and i really don't want to be maintaining two separate systems. Having a single shared data and rendering system just seems more sensible to me.