Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Freedom and Word
Today's July 4 here in the U.S. and I've got freedom on my mind. I was wondering how Microsoft Word frees us up in ways we might not have considered. Here are a few things I've come up with:
- Freedom from endless nested dialog boxes. It's true--the new UI really does bring you the tools you need when you need them. And the new minitool bar literally brings design tools to the mouse pointer whenever you highlight text. You don't have to spend wasted clicks navigating to a dialog box that is four layers deep.
- Freedom from design panic. If you aren't naturally gifted with a sense of document style (don't feel bad--few people are), you will appreciate the Themes explosion in Word 2007. Themes existed in Word 2003 in a basic way--they weren't very exciting and (you guessed it) buried deep in the UI. Now every document you create in Word 2007 is automatically assigned a theme (which includes the font, color, and effects for headings, body content, and special elements on your page). This means that you can change theme as often as you change your mood, simply by clicking a new look in the Themes gallery. (Not sure whether you're in blue mood or a brown mood? Use Live Preview by positioning the pointer over the gallery image.)
- Freedom from repetition. The new Building Blocks feature (also shown as Quick Parts on the Ribbon, which still confuses me) enables you to create once and use many times repeated elements in your documents. You can create your own library of often-used pieces (for example, your mission statement, copyright notice, disclaimer, staff and department list, what-have-you) and then insert them at the appropriate point in your documents by simply choosing them from the gallery. Nice.
- Freedom from retyping. Because Word 2007 is built for XML from the ground up, you really can use the data in your document seamlessly with other XML applications. For example, you can use the new content controls to connect your document to a data file, displaying the names and email addresses of those who've signed off on the document; populating a form with a list of classes a student can sign up for; or letting an instructor know how many students have signed up for her course. In order words, the data can flow seamlessly from the document to the data file (called a data store, actually) and back again, without rekeying--or worse, printing and then rekeying--from you.
This is just the beginning. There's also freedom from outsourcing costs for graphic designers; freedom from worry about non-secure files; freedom from mail merge frustration; freedom from boring pictures. I'm sure there are many more I haven't thought of yet (feel free to add a comment if you've got a good one).
But this is the best of all: Freedom from Clippit! LOL!
Happy Fourth, wherever you are. :)
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