<<*Optional*>> vs. Selecting Clauses

   Generally speaking, the 'best practice' approach to document assembly is 'from the ground up.' This approach emphasized throughout this manual.

This approach is exemplified (among other examples) by the example provided in the Will book of the DemoDocs library. If you study that book (which ultimately is a simple Word folder), you will notice that it is comprised of about 30 separate documents, each document containing but a single snippet of text. Each snippet in turn represents a clause that can be can be use (or not) to create a much larger Last Will & Testament.  So, when the user wants to create a Last Will & Testament (or a contract, or whatever), the user selects the appropriate book and the various clauses within that book are presented onto a Clause Selection Screen. The user then selects the desired clauses and the individual pieces are brought together into a complete document containing only the selected clauses.

   On the other hand, it is possible to start with a single document (albeit a large one) that contains every possible Will, Contract, Bid, etc., clause for that specific topic. By placing <<*Optional*>> and <<*Options*>> markers around the appropriate optional text blocks, you can make it so that the user will make decisions as to what stays and what goes once the template has been brought to the screen. There is nothing 'wrong' with this approach but keep in mind the following:

the more <<*Options/Optional*>> blocks you create, the greater the possibility of typographical and structural errors.

it is more difficult to edit clauses surrounded by the administrative text required by <<*Options/Optional*>> blocks.

it is much faster to affirmatively select well named clauses from the Clause Selection Screen than it is to process numerous individual "Do you want to keep the highlighted text" questions. (The exception to this is when you place <<*Optional*>> text throughout the document, use !GroupNames! to tie them together. This is a most proper use of <<*Optional*>> text and, because only one question is answered, it is undeniably faster than selecting individual clauses.)

if all selectable text resides in a single document, you will not have the benefit of having a collection of individual clauses that you can insert at will.

   Ask yourself this: What if you accidentally say 'No' to the question, when posed, "Do you want to keep this clause?" How will you get that clause into the document. With the 'template' approach, unfortunately you may find yourself opening the template, hunting for the clause, copying and then pasting it into the document.
   Of course, this is counter-productive. If the clauses are maintained separately in a book, adding a new/missing clause is a very simple process.

   Now there is a proper time and place for optional text. We just recommend that it be used judiciously, and with full awareness of the options available.

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