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5.1. What's a Smart Document?

A Smart Document has built-in intelligence that assists the information worker in the process of creating and updating documents and spreadsheets. Smart Documents can query a web service for the latest financial information about a company and automatically insert the returned data into the document. They can access a corporate database and retrieve client information necessary to complete a contract. They can connect to a document repository or portal site and retrieve reusable fragments, such as standard legal notices and disclaimers, or product and service descriptions, and add them to a new or existing document. They can validate that a user has supplied all of the necessary information before saving and forwarding it on to the next step in the workflow. Providing quick and easy access to accurate, up-to-date information and eliminating the need for re-keying or copying from one application to another, Smart Documents can be of tremendous benefit to the end user, especially for editing XML documents.

Word 2003's core XML support provides no method for associating elements in context with Word styles. This is standard functionality in the market-leading XML-for-documents applications and is typically accomplished through some type of stylesheet (DSSSL, FOSI, CSS, or proprietary solutions). As we saw in Chapter 4, an onload XSLT stylesheet can apply styles to an existing XML instance when it is first opened in Microsoft Word. However, once any changes have been made to the document, the XML Document task pane (which is used to select an onload stylesheet) is no longer available. Without a Smart Document solution, not only would the end user have to manually select each of the appropriate elements to be inserted into the document (using the XML Structure task pane or selecting "Apply XML Element" from the pop-up menu), they would also need to manually associate formatting information with each text fragment created.


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