Would you pay for Word 2010 (and above) support?

Coordinator
Jan 3, 2012 at 6:05 PM
Edited Jan 3, 2012 at 6:21 PM

As you probably know, fleXdoc no longer works with late versions of Word 2007 and ALL future versions, thus including Word 2010. fleXdoc relies heavily on certain functionality of Word (custom XML tags) that Microsoft had to remove from its product because of patent infringement.

Making fleXdoc work without this functionality, requires a huge investment: instead of custom XML tags, content controls must be used. Also an add-in for Word must be created to allow inserting these new content-control based fleXdoc-tags and the engine must understand these new content controls and their associated metadata.
This may sound trivial to some of you, but I guarantee that it is not. Therefore it's become impossible for me to keep fleXdoc open source. 

So, my question is: would you pay for fleXdoc if it supported (at least) the same functionality, but also supported future versions of Word? And if not, what other solution did you find that supports similar functionality?

NB: In the last 3 years fleXdoc exists and has been downloaded many times and I have answered many questions to people using fleXdoc, not a single donation was made. I hope you understand that donations are not the solution here. Of course if you now suddenly feel the need to donate, please be my guest :): https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FWF8VX8E9YTU4]

Jan 3, 2012 at 8:31 PM

I’m on your mailing list because I was searching for a server-side solution to creating Word documents. I have never used fleXdoc and was unable to find anything else suitable.

I am getting by with crappy mail-merge client-side solutions.

I am completely baffled by the lack of solutions in this space. Maybe my research is shoddy, but I cannot find anything that lets me insert data from a database query into a template in Word in a repeatable fashion.

I didn’t use fleXdoc because I have no interest in becoming an XML guru and found the learning curve steep and beyond my immediate time horizon.

What I wanted was something akin to the VBA document model found in Word itself. But any reasonable solution would have done.

It’s been more than a year maybe two since I searched for solutions in this space.

So if you are considering making a product for sale in this space, the initial due diligence would suggest that there is an opportunity.

I’d pay a few hundred dollars right now for such a solution… my perception is that there is nothing in that space.

But I wouldn’t want to pay it over and over, so I’d suggest a model wherein you sell developer licenses that produce royalty-free code.

I’d like to stay tuned in as you search the marketplace. There was an OpenXML group I belonged to which I thought was headed in the right direction, but I haven’t seen anything lately. It concerns me that you think there is a need for a Word add-in since my purpose is to create a document without Word, which can be opened by anyone that has Word.

Hope this helps.

Phil

Jan 10, 2012 at 6:39 AM

I'm in agreement with Phil on this. Except for the last comment about needing Word.  In my opinion, the only "don't learn XML" solution is to use Word as the tool to create templates - so you would need Word, but only to author templates. Word isn't needed by the generator.

Coordinator
Jan 10, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Word-Addin / Custom user interface
The Word-Addin is only needed for creating templates: it adds an extra ribbon with buttons to insert the fleXdoc-tags (ValueOf, ForEach, etc). Current version of fleXdoc does not need it, since Word has a built-in user interface to add custom XML tags. However, since the new fleXdoc cannot use custom XML tags, but has to use some other technique (I chose content controls, but something else like bookmarks would have been possible as well), I have to create my own user interface to let template designers configure those controls.

Creating a custom UI (in the form of a Word Add-In) has some advantages: I can do MORE than just add the controls: I plan to add a Test-button that allows testing the template from within Word (you would need to supply an XML-file containing the data). And perhaps I (or you!) can come up with more nice features.

XML-based
fleXdoc is XML-oriented: you need to have some XML-knowledge to use it:

  • You must be able to produce your data in XML-form
  • You must understand xpath to link the fleXdoc-tags in the template to the data in the XML

For some this may be a problem, which I totally understand. However: there's no way fleXdoc can ever work with data in some other form than XML, since that was the basic idea behind fleXdoc and this XML-based code can be found all over. The new Word-addin could perhaps provide more guidance to determine the correct xpath-queries (help-texts, samples) or provide some more intuitive way of pointing to the data in the xml (eg: show the xml as a tree and simply select a node). Perhaps a new tag is required (eg: EasyValueOf), that expects only the local name of an XML-node (case insensitive) and finds it itself, so no xpath-knowledge is needed at all. This EasyValueOf would therefore be easier to use, but also less flexible and precise. Plus, this would only work for ValueOf, not for more complex scenario's, like ImgOf, ForEach, ImportTemplate, etc.

License-fee
There could be an OEM-license that allows you to freely distribute your own products that use fleXdoc) and a client-license that allows a client to use fleXdoc.

Robert

Coordinator
Jul 23, 2013 at 7:28 PM
Come check out the successor of fleXdoc: Docati!
It supports Word 2010 and 2013 as well and runs in the cloud.

I sure hope to welcome you as a Docati user as well! :-)

http://www.docati.com