Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Using Copy Fill in Microsoft Word to Create Random Text

As a designer, I often create the layout before writing the text. At one time, I just typed random letters while hitting the space bar every so often to fill an area with text. This is a waste of time.
Microsoft Word has a convenient feature to create random text call ‘copy fill.’ Copy fill allows you to generate text so you can see what your page layout looks like with text.

To generate copy fill:

1. Open up Microsoft Word
2. Type the following code in the new Word document: =rand(x,x)

a. Substitute the first x with the number of paragraphs you want to generate
b. Substitute the second x with the number sentences you want in each paragraph
3. Hit Enter

Simply cut or copy the copy fill and paste it into your layout.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Frustrated By RoboHelp's Lack of Modernization and Compatibility

I am a frustrated technical writer. I have been given a huge assignment to develop documentation for another company that we are working with. I am creating the documentation in RoboHelp. For all practical purposes, I use RoboHelp for electronic help guide documentation. Our client wants it printed out.

RoboHelp has an option to print documentation through Microsoft Word, but it's not compatible with the latest version of Word -- you know the Word with the strange ribbon you either really love or really hate? So now I am in a jam unless I come up with a Microsoft Word 2003 version, which is compatible with my version of RoboHelp.

I love Adobe products, but I feel their acquisition of RoboHelp has hurt the product.The only thing they have done that makes any sense with the product is bundle it in a package called the Technical Communications Suite. I think I am going to start looking for and learning another help authoring tool. I find that to be a shame because a company like Adobe has the resources to take a good product and make it great.They have not done that with RoboHelp.

I know it's not the sexiest product on the market -- after all, a software's help guide usually goes ignored. Many of us still have to spend hours behind a monitor using it, so it would be nice to see some modernization occur with RoboHelp and increased compatibility.