8 Replies Latest reply on Jul 10, 2014 10:09 AM by philmodjunk

    Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document

    MikeKent

      Title

      Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document

      Post

           I am an attorney looking for a solution regarding fillable fields in commonly used legal forms.  As I build my forms library I am discovering that certain data needs to be entered for each case (case number, names of the parties, dates, etc...).  Currently, my templates have place holders that I delete for each client, enter the relevant information and then go to the next place saver.  Not only is it tedious, but the potential to miss a data point is very real and can delay a filing.  I don't like Adobe's solution of static fields (it looks messy on the filing) and Word has a developer section but there are limitations.  I would like to be able to enter fields into my documents so that those fields alone are editable from case to case but the rest of the document remains static.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I'm a brand new user so I'm out of my element here. Thank you very much.

        • 1. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
          philmodjunk

               FileMaker can use Export Records to export data to create a "merge" file. This file type was specifically created many years ago in order to facilitate importing this data into MS Word to use to create "Form letter" type output by combining data from the merge file with text set up to use with it in MS Word. I haven't had to use this method in many, many years, but if you can puzzle out the MS Word side of this via their online help, it should still work.

               You can also do the same type of "merge" all in FileMaker and not use MS Word at all. There are two commonly used ways to combine the "template text" with data entered into fields of a database so that they smoothly flow together into a single block of text. The simplest is to set up the "Form" text as layout text on a layout with merge fields inserted in to that text that refer to fields in your database. The more complex but also more flexible method is to enter the template text into a text field, with "placeholders" inserted that identify the field you wish to use as the source of data to be inserted in place of the placeholder. A calculation field then replaces the placeholder text with data from your database to produce that smoothly flowing text.

               See this demo file for an example of this last method: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6xw8buafjuohncu/MessageTemplateBuilder.fp7 It's still in the older file format so users with FileMaker 12 or newer will need to use Open from FileMaker's File menu to open the file and produce a copy converted into the newer file format.

               So why still use MS Word instead of doing it all in FileMaker?

               Well, you may find that an "all in FileMaker" solution works just fine for your needs, but MS Word, being a word processor application, can provide document formatting options not possible in FileMaker and can produce better looking page breaks in multiple page documents.

          • 2. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
            MikeKent

                 Thank you.  I will have a look at it.  I am definitely tied to some sort of word processor because of the information that needs to be entered and how, regarding the Rules of Court.  This may be a viable solution for what I was looking for.  

            • 3. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
              philmodjunk
                   

                         I am definitely tied to some sort of word processor because of the information that needs to be entered and how,

                   I am not a lawyer, but I'm not sure that I follow how the data entry method makes MS Word necessary. I can see how specific output formatting requirements might make it necessary, but not the other way around.

              • 4. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
                MikeKent

                     Like I said, I'm very new to the program (today in fact), but I know how MS Word works for sure.  The format has to be "just so".  If I could accomplish that same formatting, I would use this program, no question.

                • 5. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
                  philmodjunk

                       That format should be fully possible in FileMaker. Where you may see an issue is when the document requires more than a single page when printed. This is a cosmetic issue that you have to decide for yourself whether it is worth the trouble, but MS Word has the nice ability to prevent a paragraph from splitting across a page break such that a single line of text from that paragraph is not left at the bottom of the page preceding the page break nor at the top of the page following the page break. This produces very nice professional looking results not easily (if at all) possible with FileMaker alone.

                       But the ability to insert text fro fields to smoothly flow as part of a paragraph is quite easy to accomplish in FileMaker using either of the two methods that I referred to in my first posted comment.

                  • 6. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
                    MikeKent

                         Obviously I will have to overcome a learning curve of sorts.  Fortunately I am, effectively "starting from scratch" so I can get the docs just so, right now out of the gate.  And yes, some docs WILL be more than one page (petitions, wills, decrees, etc...).  I'll slog my way through. :)

                    • 7. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
                      MikeKent

                           Phil, I can't DL that Link.  And I'm just having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to even get a document up and running. I'm certain that if I did it once, the next one would be a piece of cake, but for now I don't know how to start.  Do you create fields somewhere and save them?  Then after that create the document?  And them add the fields in somehow?  Is it possible to create a template that I will be able to assign the correct values to later as I get new clients?  This program seems a little daunting.

                      • 8. Re: Entering fields/Importing fields into a Word 2011 Document
                        philmodjunk

                             I just tested my own download link and it works for me so it should work for you. Keep in mind that this is an older file format file and needs to be opened in the special way that I described in order to get a copy that works with FileMaker 12 or 13.

                             I will defer answering other questions about that method until you can download and see the file in action as then my answers can be more specific.

                             Here's a simpler method just to whet your appetite and also set the stage for why the method in the demo file is better:

                             Open your database file and create a new layout selecting the "computer" and "form" options just to get a simple blank layout. Make sure that this a database with at least one field defined in the table specified for this layout.

                             Click the "T" text tool and draw rectangle on the layout for where you will type in some text. If you don't get it exactly right, don't worry, you can make adjustments to the size and location of this text box later.

                             Type in this text: Dear Mr.

                             then select "Merge Field" from the Insert Menu to open the Specify Field dialog where you can double click to select a field. You'll now have:

                             Dear Mr. <<YourFieldNameHere>>

                             Add some more text after the field such as:

                             Dear Mr. <<YourFieldNameHere>>, thank you for the gift.

                             Now enter Browse mode and note how the text and the data from your field all flow smoothly into one complete sentence.

                             The demo file produces the same result without the need to create a new layout for every document. In some cases, you may find that creating different layout for each document may be a better option.