Keylogix has say in Office development

An Auckland company that took its software product directly to top Microsoft management in the US is taking part in the development and worldwide launch of Microsoft's latest version of Office.

An Auckland company that took its software product directly to top Microsoft management in the US is taking part in the development and worldwide launch of Microsoft’s latest version of Office.

Keylogix’ technology, automated document template software called ActiveDocs that works within Word 2000, attracted a Microsoft executive’s interest when founder Dot Johnstone persistently rang him directly to pitch the product in May.

When Johnstone followed her calls up with a forthright email, she was offered a face-to-face meeting with Microsoft’s Office and Word development teams at Redmond. This in turn led to a top-tier partnership with Microsoft, a team of US developers helping to iron out ActiveDocs’ bugs and add XML features, and Johnstone, an IT manager, and her husband and company partner Mike Johnstone, a lawyer, being asked to join Microsoft’s Office advisory council.

Keylogix is the first local company to join this 20-strong group, which provides input into the development of Office 10.

“I believe in going straight to the top - that’s just how I do things,” Johnstone says. “They were surprised at how we were up with the play – there was no question we couldn’t answer.”

Keylogix is incorporating some of Office 10’s features into its next version and will be involved in the Office 10 launch, scheduled for the first half of next year. But Keylogix’s product does not share Microsoft’s branding and there are no plans for bundling the product, Johnstone says.

Keylogix, which has 15 staff, nine of whom are developers, started as a consultancy and document programming company eight years ago with clients such as TVNZ, Air New Zealand and Carter Holt Harvey. It received several Technology New Zealand grants this year to help develop ActiveDocs, and recently scored a $2 million investment from the Treasury Merchant Finance Group which includes Chris Due, one of the first backers of Virtual Spectator.

ActiveDocs goes on sale in New Zealand this month through distributor Tech Pacific and directly through Keylogix’s website. It will go on sale in Australia in December, and in the US early next year, using Microsoft’s distribution channels and websites.

ActiveDocs, which uses Visual Basic, C++ and XML, builds on document assembly software Keylogix developed when it was asked by clients to reformat and code the same types of documents over and over again, Johnstone says. The authoring version allows the user to use icons and prompts to select text and create “active fields” and rules in document templates without having to write code. This can cut down lengthy programming time from weeks to a matter of seconds, she says. The licensed user version takes the user through a series of prompts in a wizard format to complete the customised document.

ActiveDocs can also be used by businesses that can’t afford programmers and have been using time-consuming "cut and paste" techniques, says marketing and sales manager Mike O’Brien.

Johnstone plans to work on new versions for Excel and Powerpoint. “This is not e-commerce - it doesn’t sit there,” Johnstone says. “It is a back-to-basics solution; it’s about creating documents, which is at the core and heart of every business.”

The husband and wife team says they are not looking for further investors but admit a buy-out by Microsoft could be part of their future plans. “It would be very nice,” Mike Johnstone says.

“We’ve got exit strategies we need to look at; and when we’ve gained momentum, we would consider that,” Dot Johnstone says.

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