Gordon McComb
Automation

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about Gordon McComb Automation

What kind of consulting do you do?

I am an expert in document automation.

That in itself is a large field. I specialize in automating paper and electronic documents using five principle methods - all of which are readily available to everyone:

  • Corel WordPerfect. Using macros, merges, and other shortcuts in WordPerfect, I provide time-saving techniques to greatly improve workflow and enhance employee productivity.
  • Microsoft Word. Same as above, but for Word
  • PDF Automation. Save paper and streamline your document production by using "one-click" PDF automation, in both Word and WordPerfect.
  • XML Authoring. Leverage XML inside your word processor, and produce document systems for use in a variety of third-party XML/XHTML authoring tools, such as XMetaL, Madcap Flare, and Altova.
  • Visual Basic.NET (VB.NET). You don't need a word processor to create letters, faxes, e-mails, reports, and other documents. It can be done using Microsoft's VB.NET, a modern programming platform that can be mastered by most anyone. VB.NET applications can integrate with Word, WordPerfect, databases, and other programs you use in your business.

What special qualifications do you have?

I literally "wrote the book" on macros and document automation. Actually, several books, including the best-seller WordPerfect 5.1 Macros & Templates. In all, some 250,000 copies of my books were printed, starting in 1987. That's what got me started in this biz.

Then, several readers of my books begged me to help them with their macros, and in 1992 I turned my attention full-time to creating document automation systems.

I've consulting with numerous corporations - including Microsoft, Corel, Novell, and Adobe Systems - as well as law firms, government agencies, hospitals, research labs, software trainers, even movie studios. See the main Consulting page for a partial list of some of my clients.

I've seen your name on other books. What else do you write?

I am now semi-retired from the writing business, since 1978 I've written over 65 books and thousands of magazine articles. I also spent 13 years writing a weekly nationally syndicated newspaper column on computer topics, and I've been a regular contributor to several leading magazines, including Popular Science and Popular Mechanics..

My company decided to switch from WordPerfect to Microsoft Word. Can I get my old macros converted?

Unlike WordPerfect documents, which Word can open and convert, there is no tool that converts a WordPerfect macro for use in Word.

In some cases, you may not need to convert a macro if the functionality is already built into Word. This includes things like text expansion (called AutoText in Word). WordPerfect macros that provided common formatting shortcuts can be recorded in Word, then played back whenever you need them.

More complex macros need to be completely rewritten. If you decide to do this yourself, you'll need to learn the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language that Word uses. There a few books on Word VBA programming you might find useful.

Of course, you're always welcome to discuss your Word macro conversion needs with me. You can choose the level of consulting help you need, from "shove-in-the-right-direction" guru guidance to complete turnkey code.

I've used WordPerfect for years. Do you think the program will remain viable?

Corel has proven it has the marketing and programming acumen to keep WordPerfect alive and well. WordPerfect still attracts a loyal user base, who vastly prefer it to Microsoft Word. Though it's difficult to predict the future, I see no reason WordPerfect for Windows (but maybe not WordPerfect for DOS) will be around for the foreseeable future.

Now that WordPerfect 9 and later comes with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), what's your opinion about writing macros in VBA as opposed to PerfectScript?

At one time I was thrilled that Corel added VBA to the mix of programming languages available to the WordPerfect user. However, this was before the days of the Microsoft Visual Basic.NET platform, which offers nearly all of the same programming benefits - ability to use ActiveX controls in dialogs, easy integration with COM objects like databases, and more. Plus, VB.NET is more portable, and permits you to build far more complex automation solutions, without being more complex to use.

For this and other reasons, I feel that when PerfectScript does not provide the power and flexibility you need, it's best to turn to a VB.NET-based solution. You can obtain the VB.NET programming environment for free from Microsoft, and use it to build rich and sophisticated solutions.

Do you have any books on WordPerfect macros?

I recently finished an update to WordPerfect for Windows Macros Tutor to cover the latest versions of WordPerfect. It's available as an instant download PDF.

What are some of the other books you've published?

I've written dozens of books over the last 30-plus years. See my bibliography here, which includes recently published works.