Custom WinWord Publishing Solution

Chris Morton developed this custom publishing solution on behalf of USA Group–TRG (Phoenix, AZ), a software developer. TRG had hoped to publish courseware which could be easily updated by their client universities. It was determined the universities all had access to Microsoft Word, so this was chosen as the desired publishing tool. More sophisticated page layout programs, such as FrameMaker or PageMaker, could not be used.

The Problem
—Before Morton had joined its staff, TRG management had approved a desired look for its courseware, but were wholly unsuccessful in using Word’s table function to create a custom layout template. It was a mess any time a staff member inserted a graphic, such as an icon or screen capture, into their tabular layout.

Morton believed the best solution was to convert to a columnar format. To the uninitiated, however, using columns in Word can be a daunting task without appropriate training. TRG needed a system that was easy to use for both its internal staff as well as its client universities.

The Solution—Given these parameters, Morton created an automated publishing solution from a Word template file of his own creation. The key to this easy-to-use solution was a “Workbook Toolbar” he constructed (see below), where each button activates a WordBasic macro Morton had programmed. His resulting solution offered a very high degree of sophistication, yet performed flawlessly when operated by staff members who had received less than ten minutes’ worth of instruction in its use.

As an independent learning exercise, Morton used RoboHELP ’95 to create Help for the project, with a few sample screen shots (taken with HiJaak Graphics Suite ’95) shown here.