Forms: Bonus – extracting images from documents

Got a document with images you want to remove, but still save?   The current version of Word offers a short-cut.  Note: This only works with documents in the .docx format

1. Locate the file with images you want to extract – do not open it.

2. Rename the file from .docx to .zip

3. Confirm the rename.

4. Double click the file to open as a Zip file.

5. Open the ‘word’ folder, then ‘media’

6. Drag and drop the images to another folder to copy them.

7. Close the window, then rename the file as .docx

8. Confirm the rename and the file is back to how it was originally – with an extra copy of the images.

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Forms: Part 4: Excel vs. Word vs. PDF vs. Online

What format works best for a form?  This depends on your audience and how they will be using the form – each method has some pros and cons.

Excel:  Best if the form requires complex calculations.  Formatting can be an issue.  Users will need to have Excel (or an equivalent) on their machine to open and use the form.

Word: Most flexible in terms of layout.  May not print as expected based on amount of user input.  As with Excel, requires valid program to open.  Can end up being a large document.  May be difficult to “extract” information from the form.  Works well for forms that require a signature as it is easily printed.

PDF: Best for controlled layout and printing.  Acrobat reader is free and widely available.  Requires special program to set up.  More difficult to modify than other methods.

Online: Powerful and flexible with the most options for organizing information and exporting data.  Requires some planning and training to build and deploy.

Bonus:  Macros.   Word and Excel both have options for adding in additional functionality to the documents though macros.  Due to some nefarious users in the past, macros are still regarded with suspicion by some people and systems.  Some users will not open a macro-enabled file – and some applications won’t let them.

Bonus 2:  Need to gather fees for an event registration?  Don’t use any of these methods.  Instead, contact a member of the UA Webteam or the Student Accounts office for more information on how to proceed.

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Forms: Part 3 Revisions and Comments

Forms: Part 3: Revisions and Comments

A complicated form may go through many revisions as it is being shared among colleagues. It may go through levels of approvals – both up and down – with sign-offs and changes at every level. The end result is the form you want to share with your users – but this should not include the process you used to get there.

Even if “hidden” the comments, changes, and revisions, are still present in the document. If a user turns these back on, all the discussion about the form becomes visible. In addition to taking up space – and making the file bigger – the comments and changes could be potentially embarrassing. When you’ve reached the final version, you’ll want to:

1. Make all comments and change notes visible.
2. Clean up the document to remove this extraneous text.

This resource on the Microsoft site has tips on how to effectively clean up the file prior to distribution.

3. While not required, it’s also useful to simplify the file name. Instead of this:

travel-expense-form-october-5-2013-final-revision-approved-by-the-dean-november-1.docx

consider this:

travel-expense-form.docx

Your end users usually don’t care when the form was approved – only that they have the most recent and up-to-date version.

Also, consider removing spaces from the file name – especially if the form will be added to a website.

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Forms: Part 2: Images

Forms: Part 2: Images

Most forms do not need any images. The text and the form fields are generally sufficient to explain the function of the form and the intended audience  - and images usually just get in the way.

If an image is needed – say, a logo or s screenshot – have your image “ready to go” before you add it in.

Example: You need to add a logo to the top of the form per the policy of your office. You find a sharp and impressively detailed version of the logo – at 2 mb in size – and add it to the form. It’s far too big to fit on the page, so you resize the image by grabbing a corner and shrinking it down. It looks great and you save the form.

The image “looks” small and will print out small – but it still ‘weighs’ 2 mb. And your simple form is now well over 2 mb. If your user has to download this and share it, now multiple versions of the form are quickly filling up their email. Send this to a list serv and you may have thousands of mega-bytes of traffic on the network – slowing things down for everyone.

A better way:

1. Use an image editing program to adjust both the resolutions (dpi – dots/pixels per inch- this is the clarity of the image) and the visible size of the image (width/height).
2. The standard on the web for images is 72 dpi – and that works pretty well here too.
3. The visible size of the image will depend on the document – smaller is better – provided the text of the logo is still read-able (otherwise, why have the image there at all?)
4. You can use Photoshop or any number of free programs online to get the image ready.
5. Once the image is prepared, save it, then add it to your form.

If possible, skip the image. If you have to use an image – get it ready by dropping the resolution and resizing the image before you add it.

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Forms: Part 1: Simplify

Forms: Part 2: Simplify

By giving your user a form, you are asking that they take time from their day to complete this task and provide you with information. Keeping the forms simple helps your users complete the form more quickly – and the quicker they complete the form, the quicker they can get the information back to you.

1. Fields. In many cases, you’ll already have some information about your user. This is especially true with personnel forms – an established employee already has a file with their information. If you already know something about the user, don’t ask it again.

Example: An employee needs to submit a expense form. You could ask for their address, their phone number, their email, their department, office phone, etc. – but if instead you ask for their name and ID number, you can find the rest – if you need it. The fewer fields you need them to complete, the quicker they can complete the form.

2. Required vs. Optional fields. If your user comes across a field that they feel doesn’t apply to them – and you’ve made it required – your user may “give up” on the form. This is especially true of on-line forms.

Example: You make First and Last name – and Middle initial – required. Not everyone has a middle name…

Required fields should be reserved for only the “mission-critical” information – that, without it, the form is unusable. Making everything required is like TYPING IN ALL CAPS. And you don’t want to be one of those people, do you?

3. Macros – what’s the big deal? A macro is a bit of code that lives in a word or excel document that can perform calculations for the user. This might be totaling figures, pulling in data from another source, or updating content in another area. While this can be helpful, some malicious folks found ways to exploit vulnerabilities in the macro code and infected computers with viruses from these documents. As a result, many email programs will block the sending of files with macros and many browsers will prevent them from being downloaded. Unless the calculations are critical to the function of the form – leave out the macros.  Otherwise, your form might be unusable.

So: Ask only what you need, require only the most important fields, and skip the macros.

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Forms: Part 0: Size Matters

Forms: Part 0: Size Matters

A form – either in Word or Excel – can be a great way to gather information. Most people are familiar with these programs and already have them installed – or have a program that can be used to open files of these types. However, a big form – both in the amount of fields and in the amount of memory used – can make the form cumbersome or frustrating to the users.

A few key points:

1. Simplify.  Does it need all those fields? Do you already have that information?

2. Images: Does the form need those images? Images should be resized and their resolution lowered before being added to the form.

3. Revisions and comments. Does the end user need to see the process used to develop the form – or just the end result?  What about Macros?

4. Doc vs. Word vs. PDF vs. Online. Which format works best for both your audience and the people that will be working with the data?

Keeping the end-user in mind will help you build a more efficient and functional form, allowing you to get the data you need with a minimum of frustration for the user.

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quick note: how to get started with qualtrics

Access to Qualtrics is by UAnet ID and password.

Start by going to http://akron.qualtrics.com

You’ll be directed to the UAkron log in screen.  Enter your UAnet ID and password.

Next, you’ll be taken to a screen about a Qualtrics account.  Indicate that do you not already have an account and Qualtrics will create one and sync this with your UAnet ID.

You will then be asked to review a terms of service document and/or indicate student status.  Once this is complete, you’ll have full access to Qualtrics. On future log-ins, you’ll be taken directly to the main screen for Qualtrics surveys.

If you are unable to set up an account using this method, you’ll need to contact the UA admins at qualtricshelp@uakron.edu.   This email should be sent from your UAkron email account.

The UA admins for Qualtrics will set up your account in that system and will reply by email.    In some cases, for additional security, you may be asked to provide your UA ID Number in addition to your UAnet ID.

Once the account is set up, you’ll be able to log in at:

http://akron.qualtrics.com

Questions?

Please visit the Akron Qualtrics site:  http://www.uakron.edu/it/instructional_services/dds/services/qualtrics.dot

or send email to: qualtricshelp@uakron.edu

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How to schedule reports to auto fire in Site Improve

Log into Site Improve.

On the top banner menu, click “Reports.”

You will see three options for the type of report you can schedule. Misspellings, Broken Links and Quality Assurance. Select an option, and click schedule.

You will see a screen that allows you to select several options for the customization. When you are ready to schedule, scroll down in the menu where it states “Schedule reports and choose reports recipients”, and select the page groups (on the left side) that you would like the recipient(s) to receive.

For each page group you have selected, you will have to select the recipients of the report. On the right side of the same menu, click “Recipients for this report.”

A screen will pop-up displaying all the optional recipients. Make your selections, or add new recipients in the menu on the right. Click close when done.

After checking all your settings, click the “save schedule” button.

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Protected: Life Awards – Survey to Useable Data

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Pulling a blog post to a dotCMS page

Sample code to pull events from a UAkron WordPress Blog (blogs.uakron.edu) to a dotCMS page

#pullRSSFeed('http://blogs.uakron.edu/bliss/feed/')
<h1>From the Bliss Institute Blog</h1>
#foreach($content in $list)
#set($rssTotal = 2)
#set($desc = "$!content.description")
#set($regex = '(\[\.\.\.\])')
#set($newstring = $desc.replaceAll($regex, "<a href=\"${content.link}\">&hellip;Read More</a>"))
<h3>
   <a href="$!content.link">$!content.title</a>
</h3>
 <p>$newstring</p>
#end
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