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Some regulatory bodies specify certain formatting attributes that a report must have. What I've listed below is a list of attributes that I wish software venders would observe. Without at least some standardization, evaluating/migrating to another software package is like starting a new career.

Forms

1) These can be custom made and altered by the inspector from design mode. They can be sold by the software vender or traded online from inspector to inspector who employ any version of the same brand of software.

2) Fonts, headings, page margins, photo size and positioning are all alterable in either design or report writingdesign mode. They cannot be changed from within an actual report writing session.

3) Any forms can be added to a report in progress any number of times with the name of the form and it's location in the report specified by the inspector.

4) Headings and subheadings from any existing form in the library can be added to any form in the report during an actual report writing session. Inspector can specify the names of those headings and subheadings if he desires.

5) Forms, headings and subheadings without content automatically do not print.

6) All manufacturer templates are 'location neutral', i.e. electrical, plumbing, etc not kitchen, bathroom...

7) 'Location specific' forms can be built and added to report in progress by simply copying forms, headings and subheadings with new names and locations specified by the inspector.

8) Forms created while a report is in progress can be saved to the library if desired.

DataBase

1) Boilerplate is compartmentalized according to subject, not location, just as some building codes do.

2) Any boilerplate can be accessed from any area of a report in progress via a 'tree' in a separate window that's normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

3) Boilerplate can be copied/pasted from the boilerplate window to the report in progress with no more than 2 clicks.

4) Boilerplate items in the library can be altered, added or deleted while a report is in progress.

5) Boilerplate altered from within a report writing session will not influence previous versions of that boilerplate already entered into that report unless specified by the inspector.

Photos

1) Photo positioning, size and wraparound choice are imbedded within the form design and cannot be altered from within a report writing session.

2) Photos can be added to any subheading in progress and in any quantity with a minimum of clicks.

3) Photos will insert according to the preset parameters inherent in that particular form design.

4) Editing of photo content is done from a separate window normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

Congrats. You've just read the longest post I've ever written.

Marc

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Sounds like Marc is well on the way to software design.

Oh, I'm certainly on my way somewhere Jim. I just don't know exactly where anymore. [;)]

Thanks Mike. Word based reporting software: (updated list)

1) InspecExpress

2) Intelligent Reporter (Mark Cramer's)

3) InspectIt (AHIT)

4) ?

Marc

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That's a pretty good list.

My system does all those things, with the exception of word wrap around text. I have a database output that uses comments associated with pictures in a numbered list; everything broken down into picture and language bites.

I walked away from the whole Word "great American novel" format for HI reports years ago. I don't know how anyone can do that for years without going completely nuts.

Wait......a.....minute........

I think I understand something now.........

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Sounds like Marc is well on the way to software design.

Oh, I'm certainly on my way somewhere Jim. I just don't know exactly where anymore. [;)]

Thanks Mike. Word based reporting software:

1) InspecExpress

2) ?

Marc

Intelligent Reporter (Mark Cramer-ware)

The AHIT software. Is it still called Report Pro? Or Report Plus?

Also, there was that one that was written by the guy who had a PhD in English. He & I got into an argument about how his canned boilerplate comments pretty much sucked. I think they went out of business. What was that called?

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2) Fonts, headings, page margins, photo size and positioning are all alterable in design mode. They cannot be changed from within an actual report writing session.

I prefer to have the ability to change those things at any time. Sometimes I tweak the margins, photo positioning, etc in order to make the pagination work out better.

6) All manufacturer templates are 'location neutral', i.e. electrical, plumbing, etc not kitchen, bathroom...

Why? I organize my report the way you suggest, but lots of other inspectors organize their reports by location.

1) Boilerplate is compartmentalized according to subject, not location, just as some building codes do.

The inspector should have control over how the boilerplate is compartmentalized. Different brains work different ways.

2) Any boilerplate can be accessed from any area of a report in progress via a 'tree' in a separate window that's normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

Why a separate program?

Why minimized?

I like having the tree available all the time. It makes for a static layout on my screen -- stuff doesn't jump in & out and change the size of my windows that way. Of course I work with a full-sized laptop, not a Dick Tracy wristwatch. . .

Editing of photo content is done from a separate window normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

Why?

IR can be made to do everything on your list with the exception of the parts that say, "cannot be changed." It allows full control of pretty much everything all the time. (Except #5, empty forms print along with everything else.)

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All this is predicated on the idea that people like reading long Word documents. Those people are invariably HI's.

I've never found a customer that chose it over a list.

Maybe it's just Chicago, but I think it's more along the lines of a profession choosing outdated communication formats.

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2) Fonts, headings, page margins, photo size and positioning are all alterable in design mode. They cannot be changed from within an actual report writing session.

I prefer to have the ability to change those things at any time. Sometimes I tweak the margins, photo positioning, etc in order to make the pagination work out better.

Alright. I made the change in the OP.

6) All manufacturer templates are 'location neutral', i.e. electrical, plumbing, etc not kitchen, bathroom...

Why? I organize my report the way you suggest, but lots of other inspectors organize their reports by location.

So do I. #6 doesn't rob you of the ability to include 'location specific' forms. It's just organized in that way. I often have 'location specific pages in my report with names like 'Upstairs Shared Bathroom' and 'Rear Attached Storage Room'. Just take the parts from the 'location neutral' forms and build it to fit the need.

1) Boilerplate is compartmentalized according to subject, not location, just as some building codes do.

The inspector should have control over how the boilerplate is compartmentalized. Different brains work different ways.

There's a large variety of people who understand logic in different ways but all use the same code books. There again, if the software vender provides for either to be used, so be it.

2) Any boilerplate can be accessed from any area of a report in progress via a 'tree' in a separate window that's normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

Why a separate program?

I modified DB #2

Why minimized?

I like having the tree available all the time. It makes for a static layout on my screen -- stuff doesn't jump in & out and change the size of my windows that way. Of course I work with a full-sized laptop, not a Dick Tracy wristwatch. . .

I've a laptop. If you've a large enough screen or two of them in tandem then you just don't need to minimize the DB.

Editing of photo content is done from a separate window normally minimized (separate program run independently from the report writer).

Why?

So you can do so unfettered by the report writer. Some developers may be able to combine these functions into one. That's fine as long as one doesn't place restraints on the other.

IR can be made to do everything on your list with the exception of the parts that say, "cannot be changed." It allows full control of pretty much everything all the time. (Except #5, empty forms print along with everything else.)

Intelligent Reporter?

Marc

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All this is predicated on the idea that people like reading long Word documents. Those people are invariably HI's.

I've never found a customer that chose it over a list.

Maybe it's just Chicago, but I think it's more along the lines of a profession choosing outdated communication formats.

I don't see how a reader can tell just from looking at the document whether it was written with Word, Open Office, 3d inspection or any of several other word processors and report writing software though I don't think that's what you were trying to imply.

Otherwise, I solidly agree with you. Narrative listing is the way to go. Our 'Manual of Style' should be based on it.

Marc

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Porter Valley. One of the more spectacular flameouts of software vendors.

Weren't there some anger management issues too?

Oh yeah......

I recall having the two of them, Mr. Owner and his Phd in English Lit boilerplate writer lecture me on why the simple fact of having a doctorate in Literature made them both experts on technical subjects. When countered with simple logic, they both went nuts.

I don't revel in someone else's misery, but I made an exception for the Porter Valley fellows.

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I don't see how a reader can tell just from looking at the document whether it was written with Word, Open Office, 3d inspection or any of several other word processors and report writing software though I don't think that's what you were trying to imply.

Otherwise, I solidly agree with you. Narrative listing is the way to go. Our 'Manual of Style' should be based on it.

Marc

Nope, it wasn't. Although, I can tell a HomeGauge report from 3D from Word (IR, IE, etc.).....it's not hard.

Pretty much all database report printing, be they HI or whatever, have characteristics, the main one being that no database will cut a record across a page break. That's why you get some blank space at the bottom of pages on database report systems (including mine). And, you can't get a text wrap like you can in a word processing program. Folks that are fascinated with pagination over data point collection tend to focus on the superfluities of pagination. That's their prerogative.

WP is good for some stuff, DB for others. Actually, you can do everything in either format if you don't mind jumping through a few hoops. I do my word processing in my database in a little invention of my own.

If it's list making, there's really good reasons for DB. If one considers what we do to be data point collection, analysis, and creating reports in multiple formats to relay information (I'm one of those people), DB's make things a lot easier.

But, people like what they know, and Word WP is what people know. HI's are not adept at knowing there's a box, let alone how to think outside of it. The profession is often in the grip of it's least creative critical thinkers, or more accurately, the software developers that have found a market niche.

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I know Katen & I use IR. Any other brilliant minds out there?

I will absolutely "not" suggest that I'm a brilliant mind, but the application I use is Whisper Reporter.

It is a DB driven application and has a pretty good editor and has virtually all the elements that Marc has noted.

It is NOT a Texas only application. There are many sample templates and one can assemble a template to do and look how they please.

I've built several different templates that are not TX TREC mandated. I also built a new TX TREC template this past weekend as the TX TREC SoP and template is going through a change. The involved committee members provided a draft copy of the new template.

The one good thing is that it is moving more toward a PCR with fewer checkboxes.

To look at Whisper Solutions application called Whisper Reporter click below.

Whisper Reporter

One can download and trial run the full application at no charge.

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