Graham Mayor

... helping to ease the lives of Microsoft Word users.

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Replacement New File Interface for Word & Excel

When Microsoft developed Office 2013 with a view to providing Office for multiple platforms, it rather lost the plot when it came to selecting personal templates for document or workbook creation on the PC. That was made even worse when Office 2016 came along and made accessing templates even more difficult. The choice was to fall back to the old Office 2003 dialog or access a non-configurable backstage dialog that shows the files in the User Templates folder.

Clearly neither was a satisfactory solution for users who create lots of template, perhaps for different clients, which are kept in different folders.

Then my old friend Greg Maxey sowed the seed of an idea, as so often happens when we bounce ideas off one another, that I could adapt one of my existing add-ins, used to temporarily load add-in templates for the current session, as the dialogs and processes required were similar and I could thus create a new add-in with the minimum of effort - or at least that was the plan.

Like its forebear the add-in can be used to easily select a template from one of up to sixteen pre-defined folder locations (all of which are easily changed by a configuration utility) available from the Backstage view from the Word File Menu, or directly from the dialog itself.

This add-in has not been tested in the 64 bit versions of Office, and contains code that may not not work in that version.

Microsoft recommends the 32 bit version for Office for most users, even on the 64 bit version of Windows.

When installed as a global template, it adds a button to the start of the Home tab of the ribbon, and in Office versions after 2007 also replaces the 'New' button in the backstage view accessed by the File Menu (see below).




 

Office 2007, which doesn't have the file menu, has both buttons on the Home tab. (I don't have Excel 2007 currently installed, but the presentation is similar to that of Word 2007 shown below.)

Before the process can be used, it is necessary to configure at least one folder that contains add-in templates. When used for the first time, or by a different user, or when the program is updated (should I produce a later version) the Configuration dialog is displayed automatically:

Users familiar with my work will note that I have changed the colour of the dialogs in the Word version of this add-in from my standard green to blue.  This is to avoid confusion with the essentially similar in appearance add-in loader, when both are installed.

I have not produced a session add-in template loader for Excel, as it uses add-ins in a different way from Word, so there was no need to change the colour scheme for the Excel version.

Enter as many, or as few, folders as required, however at least one folder must be selected. That can be any one of the sixteen available selections (1 - 8 shown; 9-16 are available from the indicated tab). For the sake of aesthetics it is perhaps better to start at the top, but the choice is yours.

Click the ? button on either dialog to get context sensitive help.

Once the settings are updated the main dialog can be displayed:

The red button at the bottom of the dialog clears the registry values used by the add-in and should be used before removing and decommissioning the add-in and at any time you wish to start again from scratch.

Select any of the buttons that are not marked 'Unused' and the button text changes to red colour and the list box is filled with the templates from that folder, as shown above

Click any of the buttons marked 'Unused' and you will see another dialog pop up in the middle of the main dialog, which provides the opportunity to associate that button with another folder, and label the button.

Note that while you can add folders directly to unused buttons, to remove or vary the association you may re-run the configuration from the button in the File Menu, or select the errant folder button and click the 'Remove folder allocation' button to the right of the list box.

And that's all there is to it. Select the template you want to use and click 'Create a new document, based on the selected template' which will then become available, and a new document is created from that template.

At the bottom of the dialog is a check box, by default unchecked each time the process is run (except when the Word Startup Folder is selected). When this button is checked, instead of creating a new document based on the template, the template itself is opened to facilitate making changes to the template.

Note the change of wording in the button caption when the box is checked.

 

Prior to version 1.7, the configuration prevented the Word startup folder from being used as a document template location. With the addition of the check box, that restriction could be partially lifted, in that the Startup folder may be selected, but its selection will trigger a warning message and the check box will be checked and unavailable to be changed. This enables add-in templates in use to be easily accessed for editing.

The Excel version does not allow the Excel startup or add-in folders to be selected.

To the right of the templates list are a selection of minor functions, which are self explanatory

 

- Click here to download the add-ins for Word and Excel

 

 

Word select a template add-in

As can be determined from the site, I live in Cyprus, where in the summer months, it is very hot and humid, and old folks like me prefer to stay indoors and make much use of air conditioning.

During such a hot spell in 2017 I found the time to modify one of my existing add-ins to facilitate the selection of pre-configured personal document templates to create documents; something that Microsoft doesn't exactly make easy for users.