Frequently Asked Questions
Intelligence is built into documents to simplify and speed up their preparation. This is achieved through the use of logic and computations that can automatically insert (or remove) optional content. In addition to this, related sets of intelligent documents can be produced from the single input of information. One "piece" of input information can be formatted in different ways.
John William Smith can be formatted as:
| || |
| || |
SMITH, J W
| || |
| || |
| || |
A high level of intelligence can be very cost effectively built into documents through the use of intelligent document development tools such as HotDocs working with or without macros.
2 Why use Intelligent Automated Document systems?
Consistent "Look and Feel"
Consistent styles incorporating margins, fonts, indents, paragraph numbering etc is enforced through the use of intelligent templates. Further protection against modification of completed documents can be provided through the use of ControlDocs with the output of documents in Adobe pdf format.
An intelligent document can logically determine what information should be included (or excluded). Computation and logic automatically provide information that would normally be needed to be keyboarded. Additional information can be provided from other existing and standard data sources. Information input for one document can also be used to produce associated documents.
This reduced need to input information together with a controlled sequence in the document preparation leads to faster document production.
Document automation can also provide considerable cost savings in an environment where highly paid individuals (Managers and Professionals) produce even simple documents such as correspondence.
The ability to have less experienced and less knowledgeable staff prepare complex and simple documents that would normally be outside their range of expertise.
This is made possible through intelligence and the use of help screens and prompts that can be associated with each field of information in an interview.
With less keyed input, validation of input, automated decisions, computation of answers and help features it is possible to produce documents with a higher level of accuracy.
Ease of Adherence to business Standards
With many document option decisions being made by programmed intelligence the business rules of the organisation are enforced more rigidly.
Reduction of Risk
Improved accuracy, Leverage Knowledge, Greater Automation and Adherence to Business Rules will reduce the risk caused by poor documentation.
Automated Intelligent documents should lead to substantial cost savings in document preparation.
3 What tools does Midware use to develop Automated Intelligent documents?
Midware Systems N Z Ltd currently use HotDocs as their primary Intelligent Automated Document development software.
HotDocs is an effective word processing tool that works with most Windows based word processing packages and enables users to prepare repetitive and complex forms and documents:
Intelligently - Simply - Accurately - Quickly - Cost effectively
5 Who are the Developers of HotDocs?
HotDocs is developed by Capsoft Development Corporation. Company foundations were in Document Assembly and Computer Assisted Practice Systems in the late 1970!*s. This was originally a costly mainframe application, which was generally only used by large organisations.
Capsoft was acquired by publishers Mathew Bender & Co. (part of the Reed Elsevier Group) in 1997. Butterworths and Lexus/Nexus are part of the same Group.
6 Who are the main users of HotDocs?
To date the main users of HotDocs have been legal firms and legal document publishers. Generally legal firms have used word processing at a more technical level than other corporate users. The need to do this has been dictated by the volume and complexity of legal documents. Corporate and Banking users are now beginning to use HotDocs for simple and complex volume documentation. HotDocs Online is widening the use of HotDocs to even individual users.
7 How Does HotDocs work?
Templates and Component Files
Documents are converted into HotDocs templates which can be in Word native (.dot) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) format. Fields that are to be completed are programmed as different types of variables. E.g. text, number, Date, Computation, Multiple choice or True/False. Groups of variables are combined into dialogs. For each template (Dot or .rtf) there is a component file which holds the detail and rules associated with variables and dialogs. Standard component templates (e.g. one for Customer names or for optional clauses) may be shared by several full templates.
A programmed template to achieve a particular document is selected from a library for assembly.
The Assembly process inserts input data into where variables have been programmed. HotDocs "interviews" the operator by asking questions for each variable or dialog. Prompts & Help pop ups assist the operator in making decisions during the interview. Rules and checks are also applied to input data during assembly.
HotDocs may provide many answers to the interview as a result of a selection from a list, computation or logical decisions. Once the questions have been answered the answers are populated into the document(s), which may be edited, printed and saved as an ordinary document.
Importation of data held in other sources.
Other answers may be provided from external data sources (databases) through the HotDocs API or the HotDocs ODBC Connection. These answers may be provided as a default (for possible subsequent change) or as a fixed answer.
Enforcement and validation of input data.
The answering of questions may be enforced always or conditionally. Answers may be validated against value ranges etc.
Answers may be reused.
The answers are saved as an .ans file and may be retained for completing other documents/letters etc that may use all or part of the answers or for rerun to produce an edited version of the previous document. Through the use of the API, answer files can be converted into database table entries.
8. What Versions of HotDocs are available?
Increases the scope of the standard version. Can be used to develop templates for HotDocs On Line in rtf format using limited features.
Publisher with Run Time version
Sets of templates may be "Published " for distribution. Users run the templates using the Player version e.g. Templates could be distributed to clients or professionals for preparation of documents.
On Line Web Server version for the Internet or an Extranet
This is a web-based version that uses a standard web browser to gather answers. Assembly occurs entirely on the server. Users may down load the assembled documents after assembly.
May be provided on a bureau basis or as an in house installation. Searchable based on document abstracts and or full text. Run using Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater.
Standard network installation
A standard network installation will use HotDocs Pro for Development and HotDocs Standard for desktops.
9 Will HotDocs run in a "Thin Client" environment?
HotDocs will function in a Thin Client environment.
10 How is HotDocs "Future Proofed"?
Templates written in earlier versions of HotDocs for earlier versions of Word will run on later versions of Word provided that HotDocs is updated appropriately. Template development costs are effectively "future proofed".
11 What is the normal front end to HotDocs?
HotDocs arranges templates in Libraries. A Template or several Templates may be selected from the Library for assembly at any time.
12 Can HotDocs be used with other front ends?
HotDocs easily interfaces with other applications such as Document Management Systems (DMS). Interfaces are available for the following DMS Systems:
PC Docs (DocsOpen)
Interfaces that allow other applications to launch HotDocs are also available.
We also provide ControlDocs, which provides simple document management functions and other features. This may also be customised to provide specific validation, reporting, document formatting and external data interfaces
14 What features does Control Docs provide?
Front end interface to HotDocs
ControlDocs provides a customisable interface to HotDocs that can interface with existing customer databases. An example of the ControlDocs front end is shown following.
This front end will launch and control Hotdocs and Microsoft Word. HotDocs will request answers to further narrow down the document(s) and correspondence that are to be prepared.
Reformatting for printing (Multiple documents - in one file)
ControlDocs will then reformat the documents for printing. As there can be several documents all prepared at once different requirements for Header and Footer content is provided. Page numbering is reset where required. Reformatting can be for single side or duplex printing. When reformatting is completed documents may be printed automatically or printed using normal Word controls. If multiple copies are required of one or more documents this can be programmed into HotDocs.
ControlDocs can output printing as a pdf format file to provide protection against change.
Simple document management for document and answer files
ControlDocs provides simple document management functions for the Word files and the HotDocs Answer files.
Automatic naming/saving of answers/docs
Document and Answer files that can contain one or more documents are automatically named and saved. The file name incorporates the customer name or account details, document identification and operator/author or team identification.
Operator and document statistics
An entry for each document assembly is output to an Access Database for subsequent provision of operator, document type and author/team statistics.
Automatic archiving by document category can also be provided.
15 Is HotDocs difficult to programme & maintain?
HotDocs may be programmed by someone who has a good user and technical knowledge of Word or Word Perfect and who understands the use of precedents. Maintenance of templates is also very simple. HotDocs templates can be programmed 3 -5 times faster than those in Visual Basic.
Midware Systems has developed DefineDocs which is a HotDocs based Template that can be used by someone without programming training to easily define a document for subsequent programming as an Automated Intelligent Document?
17 What are the Costs for HotDocs etc?
Approximate costs excluding GST are:
HotDocs Pro (per licence)
| || |
| || |
Other HotDocs Versions, DefineDocs and ControlDocs are quoted based on specific requirements.
18 How is HotDocs Supported for New Zealand Users?
Midware Systems N. Z. Limited
P O Box 3346, Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand
Phone +64 (03) 544 2184. Fax +64 (03) 544 2187