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Author Topic: Document Assembly Question  (Read 2333 times)

the3seashells

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Document Assembly Question
« on: May 10, 2007, 01:21:23 PM »
I have a question I have been unable to answer and so I am turning to the donation coder community for help.

I currently assembling documents in a way that strikes me as inefficient. To create one document, I print out various MS word, PowerPoint, PDF, etc. files and then physically assemble them after printing into one large document.

I am looking for a solution that allows me to have a master document that references the files on my computer, allowing me to organize their order, edit the documents (in their native applications), and, finally, print the result.

The master document feature built-in to MS word does not work, as it only allows you to edit word and excel document (not PowerPoint). Printing all of the files to a single PDF does not work, as I need to edit the documents even after they are assembled.

I have two solutions that come close to solving my problem, but are not quite there.

1) Using the MS word master document feature, but imbedding the files as OLE objects. The drawback of this method is that, so far as I can tell, OLE object cannot be embedded with relative (as apposed to absolute) paths. I work on many of my files from a USB drive which means the drive letter changes as I work on different computers. Also imbedding all of the documents (40+) results in a rather cumbersome 13MB word file.

2) I can reference all of the files as html links in MS word document, but if I rename the file or save the file in a different location, the like does not automatically update as do OLE object.

I think part of the reason I cannot find a solution to my problem is that I am not expressing it in the correct terminology.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate the help. Thank you.

Regards,

The3seashells

tinjaw

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Re: Document Assembly Question
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2007, 01:44:25 PM »
I feel your pain.  :( But unfortunately the true answer is to use one tool to develop the source documents.

At this stage of the game, all you can do is attempt to automate the process of producing the final product. (Or convert all of them to a common format to use from this point forward.) Sort of like having various source code files, object files, and libraries that you build to product the executable binary.

I would say, use PDF as your final output, as, most likely, all of those programs can print directly to PDF or you can use any of the myriad of third-party PDF programs available.

If you choose to automate, you have several options. You should choose based on your skill at writing code and your desire to automate quickly and simply via point and click. Each has their pros and cons. I can provide more advice depending on your reply.

the3seashells

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Re: Document Assembly Question
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2007, 03:22:51 PM »
Tinjaw, thank you for the response.

Another portion of the problem I did not clearly express is that I am usually not involved in the creation of the content and that the content is constantly updated. Even if I were to automate the process of converting the source files to PDF files for the assembly of the final product, I would need to manual organizing the PDF files into the final product instead of manually organizing the file prints.

Given that others are involved in creating the content and they are unable to switch the tools they use (word, PowerPoint, etc.,) it seems I my problem may have no good solution.

To more clearly illustrate the size of the problem; I am currently assembling a single document from 60 different files across multiple directories. The directories and filenames give very little clue as to where they should belong in the final document. Manually keeping track of where each print (physical or PDF) belongs represents a considerable amount of effort. It is certainly doable, but I had hoped to find a more convenient means of completing the task.

Again, thanks for the help.

Cheers,

The3seashells

Darwin

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Re: Document Assembly Question
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2007, 03:29:08 PM »
Can something like PaperPort do this? Or am I in la-la land?
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

tsaint

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Re: Document Assembly Question
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 06:30:22 PM »
What if you had a script (eg ahk) or batch file which contained a list of the files to be printed (or referenced an external text file). Order of printing to be decided by the list.
The script could-
start the appropriate app to print the file, then exit
ask once only for the usb drive letter and substitute that letter in all usb drive file path names.

That way you'd only have to do maintenance on a list - adding, deleting, re-ordering filenames, with everything else automatic.
tony

tinjaw

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Re: Document Assembly Question
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2007, 08:09:56 PM »
How much of the layout information is know by the individual authors? What I mean is, can you get them to output their files to specific directories with specific filenames? Or better yet, could you get all of them to deliver their output to you in PDF format? And by PDF format I mean with text as text and images as images, not just as images. This way you would be able to edit the documents before assembling them.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 08:11:57 PM by tinjaw »