Developer gets helping hand from Redmond

For local software developers, it's an expensive business pitching to the US market. Auckland developer Keylogix, however, has the support of a software sales giant: Microsoft.

For local software developers, it’s an expensive business pitching to the US market. Auckland developer Keylogix, however, has the support of a software sales giant: Microsoft.

Like most New Zealand companies, Keylogix’s push into the US with Active Docs relies upon partnerships with resellers and bundling deals. However, because Keylogix worked with some of the technical team that developed Office 2003, Microsoft was familiar with its products and has recommended it to some of its customers in the US.

Keylogix targets vertical markets such as local government, banking, insurance and professional services. Local customers include law firm AJ Park, Transit NZ and the Thames District Council. With Microsoft’s help, the company has also signed up US customers such as the California Department of General Services and real estate broker RealTopia.

ActiveDocs products add workflow and standardisation capabilities to Microsoft Office documents.

Keylogix vice-president Mike O’Brien (pictured) says ActiveDocs reduces the time spent creating documents, minimises common errors and delivers consistent documents.

“A typical sales person might spend half an hour on a proposal, and they spend half that time on formatting,” O’Brien says.

Documents are updated through the use of ActiveDocs wizards. Because employees don’t spend their time formatting and reformatting documents, it’s easier to maintain a standard appearance for documents, O’Brien says. The company also says users are less likely to make mistakes.

“Historically, you had vertical organisations and documents went ‘up’ to be proof-read,” says O’Brien. “Now they’re horizontal, and other people don’t see them.”

When users update an old document or work from a standard Office template, it’s easy to overlook small details, he says. A common example is using the wrong company name in correspondence, but other mistakes can expose a company to legal or financial risk. O’Brien says ActiveDocs lessens the risk because it requires users to complete some sections, while leaving others untouched.

ActiveDocs can specify the format of data, making document searches more predictable. The format of a city field in a document could be defined, for example, so users know whether to search for “Auckland”, “Akl” or “Ak”.

Fields can also be populated with data from web services.

Last month Keylogix launched ActiveDocs Enterprise, coinciding with the retail release of Office 2003. The Enterprise version runs on a server and allows documents to be saved, edited and filed within a web browser.

Keylogix’s principal product architect, Chris Rust, says ActiveDocs Enterprise is built on the .Net frameworks and servers. Because ActiveDocs documents are created in WordML — Word’s native XML format — Microsoft Office doesn’t need to be installed on the server, he says.

Enterprise documents can be stored in SQL Server, and ActiveDocs integrates with Windows server tools for authentication and collaboration, Rust says. “SharePoint is very important to us.”

The latest desktop version, ActiveDocs 4, is scheduled for release about mid-December. It will add Outlook to the list of Office applications supported by ActiveDocs.

“The problem businesses have with email is that they can’t control what gets sent out by email,” O’Brien says.

ActiveDocs 4 authoring licences cost $599 per seat, and user licences from $129-$150. Enterprise licences start at about $20,000, O’Brien says.

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