Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com’s Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal-technology questions at [email protected].
As we all work more and more with electronic documents, we will require useful tools to help us accomplish necessary tasks. For example, there are always times when more than one person is working on a single document. It’s always been a challenge to stay in the digital world and keep track of all the changes that different people make to a single document. One tool that can help you do this is DeltaView from Workshare. The current version is 2.7.2.
This Town’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us…
DeltaView wasn’t the pioneer in this area of technology. The market for document comparison tools was dominated at one time by a product called CompareRite from Lexis Nexis. In February of this year, Lexis officially “retired” CompareRite, leaving DeltaView as the only choice in town.
DeltaView makes this whole process much easier. First, since the documents were probably orginally created in a word processor, you may be able to avoid a printer all together. Second, DeltaView compares two documents – usually the original and the then the document that was changed – and doesn’t miss anything that tired or overworked eyes might. Lastly, DeltaView will neatly summarize all the changes made to a document and present them to you in one concise place.
Prepare to Compare
The scenario for DeltaView is simple. Upon its launch, you simply choose your original and modified document you want compared together. DeltaView takes a few seconds to look over both and then summarizes all the differences in a separate redline document.
By default, you will be viewing that redline summary alone. It’s only a few clicks, however, to change your view so you can see the redline, the original and modified documents, and a “Change Summary” window, all at the same time. As you scroll through the redline summary and you click on a particular change, the original and modified documents will automatically jump to that area in their respective documents so you can get the big picture of where you are.
One of the great things about DeltaView is that you can customize your redline results in a “rendering set.” DeltaView already has a few defaults set up for you – deletions made to the document are in a red colored font with a strikethrough; inserted text to the document shows up in a blue font with underline; and text that has been moved is in green with an underline. All of these defaults can be changed and you can completely customize your own preferences. You can even select among choices like line or change numbering, or how you want your redline summary to appear if you print it out. At my firm, we decided on a set of “standards” for our redline summaries and created a customized rendering set that everyone defaults to.
DeltaView will only work with Microsoft Word and Workshare suggests at least Word 2000 at that. The good news is that DeltaView completely integrates with the major Document Management Systems such as DOCS, iManage, and Worldox (http://www.workshare.com/products/pr_dv_dms.htm). Workshare also offers a very powerful Software Development Kit for those of you who really like the challenge of tinkering (http://www.workshare.com/products/pr_sdk_overview.htm) with your current network setup and a new application.
When Redlining Is a Good Thing
Once you’re viewing your redline summary document , there are two arrows on the toolbar that you can use to jump back and forth between each separate change. This helps you keep track of each change so you won’t get lost in your document.
DeltaView doesn’t have an internal editor that I could find (that appears to be left up to Workshare’s new product called Synergy). You can, however, right click in the Summary Window and choose “Edit Redline” which will spit you out to Microsoft Word where you can make your needed changes. When you click back to DeltaView from Word, a warning box will pop up informing you that you have made changes to the document outside of DeltaView and asking if you want to re-load the document. This is a great feature but you must make sure that you close the document in Word before you click back to DeltaView. Otherwise, another error message will appear and the document will not be re-loaded.
Workshare has done a fantastic job on their documentation. First, their Web site is very informative and helpful. And they bundle some very helpful documents and help files with their programs.
When you install DeltaView, you get a “Quick Reference Guide” in PDF, and a separate Users and Admin Guide. All of these documents will provide you with a good amount of information to get you comfortable with the program. The Admin Guide includes necessary information for your network professionals to correctly set up DeltaView to interact with other applications like your Document Management System and e-mail.
Compare Without A Care
DeltaView does have a slight learning curve simply because people are not used to looking at changes on a computer rather than paper. But it only takes a few tries to get the hang of using DeltaView and it can be a huge timesaver if used correctly. Especially if you consider the fact that there are no printouts needed on either the original or the modified side of your document collaboration. In other words, you can completely eliminate the need for inter-office mail or a courier service.
But if you must print, DeltaView provides you the ability to print out the redline summary that will show you on paper all the changes that were found in the comparison. Of course, since many of the changes in DeltaView use different colors to differentiate themselves, you’ll need a color printer to get the same full effect of the changes on paper as you do on screen.
Tools like DeltaView will only get better as we continue to seek for new and improved ways to work with electronic documents. DeltaView gives you the power to efficiently compare two documents and see their differences in a manageable manner. It’s time for the redline to go digital.
Product: DeltaView – http://www.workshare.com/products/pr_dv_overview.htm
Remote controls have become so commonplace in our society that it’s hard for many of us to imagine a world without them. We have them for everything including our TVs, VCRs, DVD Players, stereo systems, and even our garage and car doors. So why not add a remote control for your PC to the collection? The Digital Media Remote from Keyspan is a perfect choice.
| Remotely Useful
Some people will probably immediately ask why they would need a remote for their computer – you’re probably sitting right in front of your compute when you use it anyway.
While it’s true that any significant interaction that you have with your computer will involve a keyboard or mouse, there are some times I can think of that a remote would really come in handy. For example, if you play CDs through your computer as you work around your office, a remote will allow you to control the volume and track selection from across the room. Or let’s say you’re previewing a video deposition on your computer and you need to sit back and take notes while pausing, playing, or rewinding.
The biggest use I can think of for a remote is in giving presentations. The Digital Media Remote from Keyspan will allow you to walk all around a room during a presentation all the time keeping you in complete control of your PowerPoint slides. You’ll look a lot more professional interacting with your audience then if you stay put behind a stuffy podium.
On the other hand, the more I use (read, “play”) with this handy little gadget, the more uses I find for it. This is thanks in big part to the “Map Editor” that Keyspan included in the software with the Remote. Opening the Map Editor will actually allows you to specify exactly what the buttons on the remote will do what in a particular application. The possibilities are then only limited by your imagination.
Small and Handy
The Digital Media Remote is literally the size of a credit card and about the thickness of four stacked together. The current model has 17 buttons that include the usual selections found on an entertainment remote – Play, Stop, Pause, Next / Previous Track, and Fast Forward / Rewind.
Below those, you’ll find four arrow buttons pointing in all four directions with a “Select” button in the middle. While these buttons had limited functionality before, the latest version of the remote software gives these buttons the power of moving the mouse cursor. (I originally installed version 2.0.3 of the software but easily upgraded to 2.0.5 from Keyspan’s download site.)
On the left, you’ll find two separate Up / Down arrows that are defaulted to control the volume of your computer. Below them, you’ll find a Mute button which obviously immediately shuts off all sound coming from your computer.
And lastly, at the bottom, you have a button with an Asterisk and another that says “Menu.” The Asterisk is defaulted to the Alt-Tab function on your PC. Pressing the Asterisk button on the remote will cycle through the programs that you have running at the time. Pressing the Menu button activates the menu in your current program – the line with File, Edit, View, etc.
I Can’t Even Program the VCR
I mention above that most of the buttons have a default action associated with them. The Digital Media Remote is bundled with a CD-ROM that includes the software used to program the remote called the “DMR Assistant.” A small warning is also included in the packaging which requests that you install the software before you plug in the remote, although the installation process will remind you to unplug the unit if you did that first.
The part to plug in is the base of the Digital Media Remote which connects to your PC via a USB connection. The white, semi-transparent base has a big black “eye” that receives the Infrared signals from the remote. You can see a red LED light up in that eye whenever you press a button on the remote. The base also has a convenient slot on top where you can place the remote when it’s not in use. I sometimes used this slot to “clip” the base onto the top of my laptop screen so it could get a good, clear infrared signal from the remote.
Installation was an absolute snap and within two minutes, I was happily mashing buttons on the remote to control my PC. After simply double-clicking the DMR Assistant icon in my system tray, I easily went in and added Microsoft Word to my list of applications. Then it was only a few clicks more to assign actions to my buttons such as the Enter key, the Right Mouse Click, and a button that automatically inserted my name in my current document.
Now, all of this sounds a little useless, but my point is that assigning buttons and working with the remote and its software is very intuitive. I use NotifyCD to play CDs at work and it only took me a few minutes to add that application to the DMR Assistant. I then used the Map Editor to assign the keystrokes I use to control the CD player to specific buttons on my remote. I was literally moving around my office controlling everything from across the room.
I was thrilled to use the Remote with PowerPoint. I’ve used my Microsoft Wireless Mouse before in a presentation so that I could move around the room, but holding the mouse was a little bulky and I would sometimes inadvertently click a button. With the Digital Media Remote, not only can I assign buttons to click forwards and backwards, I can also assign the Esc and F5 keys. And the Digital Media Remote is small enough that I’m free to carry notes as I move around the room.
A Remote of Many Functions
The beauty of the Digital Media Remote from Keyspan is that it can be customized to your specific needs. You’re not limited to one or two applications like with other remotes for computers, and you can really become expert at using the remote if you work with it just a little bit everyday.
If you find yourself longing to control your PC like you can control your TV, then the Digital Media Remote is perfect for you.
Pros : Easy to install and easy to configure.
Good software package.
Cons : Limited use if you have no imagination.
Please feel free to e-mail me (b[email protected]) with any questions, suggestions, comments, or any helpful tips and tricks that you might have relating to technology used in the practice of law.