View Full Version : Using summary styles on PDA?

Mike-Best Inspect
01-22-2007, 09:15 PM
Hi There,

The one thing that slows us down in report writing is double checking
summary items. Using styles in summary preferences sure is nice, but there
is no support for that feature on the PDA. So, now we create extra blank
subheadings, cut and paste the issue onto that new line so we can separate
safety issues from maintenance isuues, etc...and send them to the right place.

Does anyone have a workaround for this? Will it ever be possible to have the
"styles" support for the PDA? We use the PDA's for the majority of our inspections,
but then we have to sift through the report, view summary,
go back to the report, make changes, and still sometimes we don't catch
it till we print the PDF file for the client. Then, it's delete the PDA, go back
into the report, make the necessary changes, view summary, preview, print
to PDF. Not a very efficient work flow.

Sorry for the rambling, but it's frustrating and time consuming!


01-23-2007, 01:32 PM
Unfortunately the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system simply does not support normal RTF (rich text), which is how the styles method works- to find summary items the program just locates all comments set to a particular rich text style thoughout the report. Since Microsoft does not support rich text in Pocket PC, styles method simply cannot work the same as it can in the main report writer.

This is also probably why Microsoft has been encouraging production of extremely small "Ultra-Mobile" tablet PCs. They've stated their goal is that these eventually reach a low price point comparable to Pocket PCs....but that part hasn't happened yet. So an excellent alternative, if one really wants to use all the features of the regular windows program, including summary styles for menu items preset to summary, is to just a Tablet PC in the field instead. Tablet PCs come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Since Tablet PCs run regular windows, our regular windows program has its full functionality, you have the full functionality of regular windows, plus stylus control and handwriting recognition input options. The only downside is the Tablet PCs are more expensive than Pocket PCs.

However back to Pocket3D options- if Styles method is set in the main program, and items are marked for summary in Pocket3D, the end result is somewhat of a hybrid. The entire field is marked for summary on Pocket (since Pocket3D only handles marked fields without RTF abilities), but when converted, the style for a summary area is applied to all comments marked for summry. Thus the comments of the entire field end up marked for the summary style for that area.

As a side note, since RTF is simply not supported by the Pocket PC operating system, this is also why the Pocket3D documentation explains that if you choose to SEND comments to the field directly in Pocket3D, any rich text in the original comment is stripped out.

However, if comments are just selected normally in Pocket3D with a check mark (and not Sent to the line), when the report is converted into the regular program later, the main program can import the comment from the original forms in the main computer which still contain the original RTF (colors, bolding, italics, etc). So that works fine for most comments, but obviously cannot be done if comments are sent to the field for further editing, or typed directly into Pocket3D. However, should a comment with rich text need further editing, it may be best to just bookmark the comment in Pocket3D. That way one can just flip through bookmarked items after conversion to make final edits.

01-23-2007, 01:36 PM
There is also a trick one *could* use to simulate the styles method in Pocket3D: Instead of pre-setting menu items to a summary area number in the forms, one could hard-code the actual styles themselves (color, bold, italics, etc) in the menu comments by directly coloring, bolding, etc them. However, we cannot officially recommend this method, because the style settings for summary in the main program must match for it to work (i.e. for it to recognize the items go to summary), and settings like that could be accidentally changed, or may differ from computer to computer.

But at your discretion, you could actually use this trick to fake a "styles" method on Pocket PC. Keep in mind that this will only work if the comments are set to the style ahead of time in the forms and have no summary number assigned, AND the main report writer has its summary styles set up exactly the same as the hard-coded text, AND if you don't send any of those comments to a field in Pocket3D for further editing there (which strips away the rich text not supported by Pocket PC). You can see why this might not be reliable unless you follow those rules.

Plus, since hard-coded colors (vs. pre-set summary numbers) don't mark the field for summary in Pocket3D (since they are just regular comment with color in the original forms at that point), you would be able to use View > Summary in Pocket3D to just review your list of summary items on the unit, since technically they are not marked for summary until they get converted and match the summary style used by the regular program.

However, all is not lost. Regardless of which summary method or bag of tricks is used, you still have the ability to customize your final summary comments after merging them. So you can easily remove any unwanted comments at that point if you want. So you still have full control over your final summary document content.

A great help in this regard is to just bookmark comments that you either want to mark for summary or adjust the summary area, or even edit further. That way you can just flip through your bookmarks after converting to make adjustments as needed. Also, you may find that using Summary > View Summary in the main program is useful, since you can quickly review all the items marked for summary and if any need adjustment is needed for any item, just click it to instantly jump to that area of the report to make an adjustment or reassign a summary area.

So there are a number of options one can use, each of course with its own set of benefits and trade-offs.