Sunday, 29 November 2015

SmartExtract

A Free Document Productivity Tool For Word

This tool extracts revisions and comments made by a reviewer and formats them into a table for further management and response.

SmartExtract is used to receive feedback on a document. The comments and tracked changes suggested by the reviewer are collated into a table which shows comment or revision and its context. Tools allow you to go to the page of each entry, and your response to the comment or change can be recorded in the table.

Creating this table allows quick and efficient responses to be prepared for each reviewer. The point-by-point response to their feedback looks very professional and acknowledges the effort they have put in.


Consolidating all feedback from multiple reviewers into a single table creates a great tool to use during review meetings. In addition, if you use placeholders for gaps and highlight areas of rework in your own documents,  this tool can also produce a great summary of the outstanding work needed to complete a working draft.



Here is a sample of a typical report from SmartExtract that includes the author's response to to the feedback.


The key points from the sample are:





Numbering
Each entry is numbered so it can be tracked. This is especially useful if the report is being used at review meeting.

Context


The context of the change or comment is given, without this, the change or comment is of little use and would require constant access to the source document. In most cases, the context is sufficient to make decisions about the feedback.

If the comment or change is made in the body of a document, the context is the 20-30 words from the proceeding paragraphs. If it is made in a table, the entire contents of the table cell are given.

The page and line number of the change or comment is shown, and a reference to the row in any table is given. Using SmartBookmark (next post) when on the page number will take you directly to that location in the source document for further review.


Insertion and deletion changes are shown as they are normally seen in track changes, in a different colour and with deletions in strikethrough font. The location for comments is shown in grey highlight.


Only insertion and deletion revision changes are recorded by SmartExtract.  Formatting and other changes are relatively minor and may be entered in error by reviewers.

The heading of each context entry contains a subtle layout that supports sorting by this column. This allows you to merge the summary tables from multiple feedback documents into a single correctly sorted table.

Comment or Revision
The text of the comment or revision is shown. They shown the order they appear in the document.

A key point is the representation of minor changes, which are combined into a single entry for each paragraph. This means that several minor punctuation changes are consolidated, without this, the table would contain many distracting low value entries.








Author
The author entries means that a single document with revisions from multiple people can be managed properly.

Action
The action column allows responses to the feedback to be recorded. Since the context and the comment or change are already present, the response does not have to be very lengthy, and in many cases, cut and paste can be used to populated.

Using the Tool

From within the source document, use the SmartTool menu and select SmartExtract (Ctrl + q)



SmartExtract shows what types of changes occur in the document.
Comments, Revisions and Highlighted text are supported.

A Standard Extract will extract all.  If you select this, the extract will immediately start.


A custom extract allows you to choose a subset of reviewers and they types of feedback they have made.

SmartExtract collates the statistics and shows them. This may take a few seconds.

Leave the field blank for all reviewers, or enter the number of each separated by commas.


You can now confirm which types of extracts to show.

Similar questions are asked for Revisions and Highlighted text.





The extract will take a short while to process the document. Progress is recorded in the status bar, but in some circumstances, the status bar looks like it has frozen. Give it time and it will finish.


Update 

The routine has been enhanced to include highlighted text in the report and to allow a custom extract suitable for large documents. Highlighted text in documents I work on usually indicates work in progress or an issue to be resolved.

Performance improvements have been made and extracts in large documents now run about 4 times faster. 

Inspiration

I frequently receive feedback on the documents I produce. Collating this and responding to it is a real chore. I decided to write this routine after getting 12 sets of feedback and then needing to present all of this a a review meeting.

The ability to respond point-by-point to feedback is really important for me. In the past, any response has had to be very generic because of the effort needed to present each point and its context before I could respond. This routine saves hours of effort and allows me to present professional responses really quickly.  

The routine also saves time when I get feedback. I can run an extract and get a quick overview of the extent of change in seconds, without having to scan the entire document, during which I tend to get bogged down in detail.

Summary

SmartExtract saves me hours of work managing feedback. The results are professional and I use it regularly.

The Downloads tab contains a copy of SmartExtract. There is more information on how it works in the release notes.

3 comments:

  1. this is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Thanks for the Feedback. In upcoming posts I'll include some advanced commenting functions that I use regularly for giving my own feedback.

      Delete
  2. Hi - Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - I don't know what can be causing the error - can you give me more details. Thanks

    ReplyDelete

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