Scott Deboy SCODEB at
Wed Apr 14 00:23:41 BST 1999

I'm new to XML (reading the spec and learning about DTDs etc.) and I was
hoping someone could point me in the right direction on an idea I have to
replace Word macros w/a 3-tier system using XML.

Example: I want to build a letter macro using XML.

The letter is mostly static text.  An address is required, as well as a
couple of other fields.  Also, the letter has a couple of optional
paragraphs that I need to prompt the user to answer.

My idea (obviously lots of gaps but bear with me please):
First I would store the static text and optional text in XML format in a
relational database.  

Next I would define the structure of the macro in XML format as well -
basically a roadmap of what components need to be combined and in what order
to complete the document: the boilerplate, optional paragraphs, signature
block, etc.

The optional paragraph XML would also contain the question to ask the user,
for example: Select a color: blue, red, green.

The macro structure would reference the appropriate fields in the database.

The user is prompted for fields unique to this letter, as well as address,
signature, etc.

This response is formatted in XML and sent to an app server.

The app server could parse through the user's response, parse through the
macro 'roadmap', retrieve text and other data from the database, combine the
pieces of the document and return the completed document to the client.  

This would also allow the app server to work as the engine for a batch
letter processor as well.

I will want to make this app server handle any of the macros we currently
create in Word.  

Any big mistakes here? Any pointers? Should I be sending this to a different

Should I be thinking about using XQL or do I need XSL? there are so many
acronyms I haven't had a chance to figure out what would be useful in this

Any pointers are appreciated - 
Scott Deboy
SAIF Corporation

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