I'm back from a fun week of training in Frankfort, Kentucky where I learned more about desktop support, what to wear to the Derby, and "Doctor Hobo" than I ever dreamed possible.
Here are a few things we talked about implementing that I wanted to reinforce as very useful--especially if you have a lot of users who might not be wild about the change, and want to help ensure consistency and ease-of-use.
- Templates, templates, templates! Make the templates, set'em up in clearly named categories, and point users at them. For best results, store the templates centrally on a server. To make a template, choose File > Templates > Save, or just copy it to the templates directory of your OOo installation on the server. To point users to that location, choose Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Paths, select the Templates line, click Edit, and add a location. See more in this blog on templates.
- Configure the menus and toolbars! You can make menus that say "Admissions Department" and it's not going to take any training at all to get the folks in the Admissions Department to use that menu. Then stick whatever you want in there. Choose Tools > Customize to modify or create menus and toolbars. When you add items, you can choose to rename the menu or toolbar item so that it says "Use This For Printing Envelopes" or even "Diane, This Is For You". See more in this blog on toolbars.
- To skip blank Address2 lines, just use the mongo mail merge wizard: Tools > Mail Merge Wizard. This is a bit complex so just set it all up with the content and the database users need, then make a template and point them to the template. You might need to fuss with the database setup to be sure that the users' systems recognize it if you've got the template and database on a central server; one thing to try is Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Base > Database and register the database. See more in this blog on the big wizard.
- If you have a lot of forms with fill-in fields (the usual gray fields that pop up to let you enter something), consider creating a form from File > New > XML Form Document. This gives you the data entry form tools but you can use them easily for forms that just need to be filled in and printed, or filled in and saved. You can create dropdown lists for instance that make it easier for the people filling in the fields to know what the correct possible values are. When you create the form, make it a template too, then point users to it. Here's a blog on tweaking forms created with the wizard, which isn't exactly what you might want but it's a step in the right direction.
Those were the big implementation ideas that we bandied about and I think are darned useful for anyone who needs to work with a lot of users. If you have other ideas along these lines, let me know!