Getting the Most out of HotDocs: Number 1

Document Services

Here at HotDocs, we’re often asked for tips and tricks that maximise on the power of our document assembly technology. In this, the first of a series of blogs providing insight into getting the most that you can from HotDocs, I discuss why you should consider using the scripting functionality.

Make Your Templates Fly

As a kid, did you always follow the instructions on the box of Lego or did you take the pieces and put them together to build exactly what you wanted? The first time you opened the box, you probably built the house you were shown in the picture. You figured out what all of the strangely shaped bits were for and how they could be used together. Once the house was built, there was a sense of achievement but then perhaps you realised it wasn’t exactly what you wanted to play with. It was missing the vital feature of being able to fly. So you took bricks off, added new bricks and built a spaceship.

In many ways the idea of using bricks to build the house is a lot like using HotDocs components to build a great HotDocs template. You take the pieces that you need to construct your final document and build up the levels. First you take your HotDocs variables and replace the changeable text in the original document, then you start applying HotDocs logic such as IF blocks and REPEATS until your template produces great documents. You use all of the integrated Microsoft Word tools in the HotDocs ribbon and you understand how the pieces go together to create the whole. But what if it doesn’t fly? What if there’s something specific you need your template to do that isn’t visible in the HotDocs ribbon in Word?

It’s important to remember that the HotDocs template development tools in Word are not the full package. HotDocs is an incredibly powerful piece of technology and to take full advantage of that you sometimes need to think outside of the box. One of the most powerful tools in the HotDocs arsenal is the HotDocs scripting language. It’s a simple way of telling HotDocs exactly what you want it to do with your document. Perhaps you want HotDocs to calculate the age of a person from their date of birth, or work out the future value of an investment, or combine two sets of multiple choice answers into one list. You can save yourself and your clients a lot of work hours by having HotDocs do these things for you. Like any language there are rules for speaking it, you can’t just throw words out at random, but once you learn a few basic procedures that govern how you can talk to HotDocs you’ll be amazed at the things you can do.

If you want to build houses then the HotDocs ribbon in Word has the perfect set of tools for you, but if you think you might want a spaceship after all, give scripting a go.