|The Path to Document Assembly
You can create your own clause libraries by storing the various clauses as discrete Word files in a folder dedicated to the document you want to assemble.
Service and Support
Roy Lasris, the author of Pathagoras, is a one-person tech support department reachable via e-mail, phone or through a discussion group at Pathagoras’ Web site. He is responsive and approachable. The online Users’ Manual and QuickStart Guide are helpful and straightforward. There are also interactive screen shots that are useful in learning to navigate Pathagoras.
The Dark Side
At this time, use with third-party personal information managers and case management software as a data source is limited. There is no way to use Time Matters as a data source for Pathagoras. However, a data link with Time Matters is purportedly in the works. Check with Pathagoras if a data link with specific software is critical.
Like all software, Pathagoras continues to evolve. In addition to the data links, some attention to the user interface is in order. I thought access to some functions were not as intuitive as I would have liked. Also, some of the out-of-the-box default settings on the file management side of things made it too easy to save over a sample document. These are minor gripes easily addressed by the user.°
Updated 01/17/03 Feb/Mar '03 Issue
© Law Office Computing Magazine
I am not one of those people who love to hate Microsoft Word — I simply hate it. But, if you are a Word user, love it or not, you need to take a close look at Pathagoras. You can manage files, create clause libraries and assemble documents without leaving your word processor, using existing documents.
Document management in Pathagoras is comprised of PathSmart and SaveSmart. Set-up requires knowledge on where and how to store data. Where do you store files you want to retrieve? Where do you want to save files and under what file structure? After you decide that, you need to look at the Demo Profile, follow the tutorial and get a feel of using Pathagoras as a file manager.
PathSmart provides links to directories or folders and organizes them by “Profile.” Think of Profiles as groupings of file folders. You can have up to 12 designated paths for each Profile, and an unlimited number of Profiles. You simply tell PathSmart where on your hard drive, network or other location your files are located.
SaveSmart is the companion to PathSmart. When you create a document in Word, you can save it using SaveSmart. To do so, click the SaveSmart icon on the toolbar, use the drop-down Profile list to select the proper profile in which to save the file, click the file path, enter a descriptive file name and click the “Save/Copy” button. This isn’t as cumbersome as it sounds.
Pathagoras provides a fast, elegant way to automate document assembly, and throws in a number of bells and
whistles. You can build elaborate documents without programming or wrestling with Boolean logic, all within Word.
The easiest method of document assembly is to take a typical document, a real estate lease, for example, and replace the tenant’s name with a unique variable name like “TENANTNAME,” the landlord’s name with “LANDLORD NAME,” and so forth. Then you need a data source. Pathagoras has what it calls an “Instant Database” that will satisfy most of your needs. You can call up the Instant Database from the “Pathagoras” drop-down box located on the toolbar (or by pressing “Alt + D”). In the Instant Database screen, fill out the blank form with the variable names you just created. Save that screen as a “Mask.”
To assemble a rental agreement, open the sample document, then the Instant Database, fill in the form and press the “Go” button. That is it. If you think you might want to reuse the data form you just completed, before hitting the “Go” button, click the “Personal Data” box in the upper right-hand corner of the Instant Database screen, hit “Save,” and name the data set.
You also can use an external database such as Microsoft Access as a data source. This is useful if you are managing complex documents that have more than 30 variables or if the data field is longer than a single line.
You also can use clause libraries to create documents. To evaluate this feature I used the demo data included with Pathagoras to assemble a will. I assembled a sample will by clicking the “Doc Assembly” icon on the toolbar and selected a “Book” of clauses for wills from the drop-down list on the left side of the screen. Then I clicked the “Show Descriptions” circle to view clause descriptions and hit the “Go” button. After hitting the “Go” button, you are presented a file list with a circle beside each file name. Click the circles for the clauses you need, hit the “Go” button and the will is assembled. Go to the “Instant Database,” select the “Will Mask,” fill in the information, hit the “Go” button again and you are done.