How do I make this process more efficient?
March 19, 2010 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to automate the process of editing two word documents, converting them to pdfs, merging them, and then emailing?

One of my job responsibilities is that I have to update and send out to new people a specific document. I am trying to automate this process (or at least figure out a better way to do it) so that I actually have time to do the rest of my work. Here is what I currently do:

I receive an email with four pieces of information: Name, Email, Company, and Address.

First, I take the Company and Address and insert it into a table (in Word). This is done alphabetically. I then save as "Roster" and convert to a pdf.

Second, I update a multi-page document (Document X) with the Name and Company in several places throughout. I save as (Document X -- Company Name) and convert to a pdf.

Third, I insert the Roster into "Document X -- Company" after page 8. Save, then send in an email to the email address, with a form letter that uses Name and Company.

All in all this takes about 15 minutes. Some days I do 10 of them. Am I doing something wrong? If could automate even parts of this process, my life would be better. I am on Windows 7, have the entire Office Suite and Crystal Reports.
posted by gagoumot to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can (ask someone to) create a PDF template/form so that at least the conversion does not need to be done. You can have four fields and populate their content to the respective places in the PDF (say on page 2 and 5). Does this help?
posted by oxit at 11:26 AM on March 19, 2010

Response by poster: Your right, I think that would take care of the converting on Document X. I would still need to update and insert the roster after page 8, then email.

If I could press a button, fill in the four values and end up with a document attached to an email, that would be awesome.
posted by gagoumot at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2010

You can have an input form on page 1 which automatically adds the four fields to the roster on the last page. Probably needs a little scripting in the PDF but can be done.
posted by oxit at 1:09 PM on March 19, 2010

Have you looked into vba for word?
I know vba excel and this sort of task is exactly the sort of thing it's designed for.
It's worth learning a few bits just to speed up other tasks.
posted by 92_elements at 1:29 PM on March 19, 2010

Best answer: You might be able to automate the entire process with autohotkey. I've never actually used it myself but reports from friends who have and a glance at their website makes it seem promising. (I'm thinking about trying to use it for an automation task of my own, actually).

Have you tried to write a macro in word to do the text insertions? I think that should be pretty straightforward.

There's also a command-line pdf toolkit you can use to merge two other pdf's together (and other things). This could be used in conjunction with autohotkey or some other script maybe.

As with most computer things, it should definitely be possible to do; it just depends on how much time you want to sink into working on it.

I'm not working right now, so if you're not sure how to start on your own, memail me and I'll ask some more specific questions and maybe try and investigate further or hack something together.
posted by mathtime! at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2010

Response by poster: Looked into the forms thing. Turns out you can't insert additional pages into a saved form, unless I am missing something. I have no idea how your second suggestion works.

Autohotkey has come a long way since the last time I looked at it, there might be some potential there.
posted by gagoumot at 2:36 PM on March 19, 2010

Response by poster: At mathtime!'s suggestion I took a look at autohotkey. It took about 3 hours to write it, but it works perfectly. I did all of today's updates (8) in about 3 minutes. So awesome.
posted by gagoumot at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2010

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