[OS X TeX] Form Documents

Bob Kerstetter bkerstetter at mac.com
Mon May 23 21:16:24 CEST 2005

On May 23, 2005, at 1:33 PM, Curtis Clifton wrote:

Hello Curtis,

> On May 23, 2005, at 12:41 PM, Bob Kerstetter wrote:
>> Hi,
>> For 10 years we have been using Word and VBA to generate form  
>> documents. We enter name, address, etc for one person, then use  
>> that information to generate 24 different documents, each one  
>> customized with the name, address, etc. for the one person.
>> Is there some way of doing this with TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt so:
>> 1. The users have a Mac-like dialog box where they can tab  
>> forward, backward, etc to enter the information about the person,  
>> then press OK to create the 24 docs.
>> 2. The user can do as number 1, but then select from a list the  
>> docs they want to create.
> Items 1 and 2 could be accomplished without much difficulty using  
> AppleScript with an AppleScript Studio interface.

Thanks. I'll look into this. Just bought Goodman's PDF book on  
AppleScript a month or so ago, but have not had a chance to look at  
it. This is now a chance. ;)

>> 3. The user can edit the text of the output PDF with Acrobat or  
>> whatever and the lines still wrap and the pages still break. BTW,  
>> the output is double spaced.
> I'm not sure about this.  To edit the generated documents it would  
> be technically easier (i.e., easier for the implementer) to have  
> the script generate TeX source which the user would edit.  This  
> might be reasonable, especially if the scripts typeset the  
> documents so TeXShop could be launched with a source and a preview  
> window open.

You know, outputing tex source and having the users edit with Lyx, or  
whatever, might not be a bad idea. It could output the PDF and the  
source, so the users only edit what they need to edit.

> I hope I don't start a flame war---I've already been in mine for  
> the month---but if WYSIWYG editing is really a requirement, then  
> perhaps a non-TeX solution is required.

No flames from me.

We are pretty frustrated right now because Word 2004 will not  
consistently run our VBA frontend for these docs. They've worked  
without mods for the last eight or so years on Windows and Mac (8.6  
and 9.2) versions of Word. The frontend is very simple and does  
nothing cute.  Actually, it will still run when stepping (F8-ing)  
through the commands in the VBA editor, but it crashes reliably and  
consistently when just running the macros. Maybe a 1.8 GHz G5 iMac is  
too much horsepower for an "aging" VBA engine? Could that be? I don't  
know. We've tried building in delays for the I/O, but that does not  

BTW, in defense of my integrity, I've probably stated on this list  
that I don't program. I don't. I hack at BASIC and a teeny tiny bit  
at AppleScript, plus a Perl CGI or two in a previous job. But I don't  
remember things from one project to the next. I don't do it enough to  
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