RPE is designed to be a generic and flexible document generation tool and this is good as it allowed RPE to support many different scenarios. However, while a 1000 different users might use RPE in a 1000 different ways an individual user typically has only a handful of scenarios.
For creating new document specifications each user starts from the same default document specification and has to edit it to match their needs. The problem is that some of the actions do not change (like choosing the output formats used) yet they have to be repeated over and over again for each document.
If I look at how I use RPE I usually generate only the Word and HTML outputs. I use HTML when I need to debug data problems (thus I need the output to open fast) and Word document when I’m interested in formatting details. I generate PDF but only when I need to distribute the document, such as the work items list planned for an iteration/release. Furthermore for Word I tend to use the rpe.dot stylesheet and set “progressive” for the “update fields” propertyas well as change “OLEs as static images” to “false” when I work with DOORS.
This means that typically I need to remove 2 output formats and change the values for 4-5 properties. And since this is my typical scenario it means it means that I have to do it for more than 80% of the documents I generate.
Default Document Specification
With RPE 1.3 it’s now possible to fine tune RPE for your most common scenario using the new customizable default document specification concept.
This concept does not limit RPE’s flexibility, what it does is it gives you the ability to define a starting point that is much closer to your goal and thus requires fewer manual actions for your typical scenario.
How it works
When you create a new document specification RPE 1.3 loads the %RPE_HOME%\utils\docspec.dsx. The Out Of The Box version is the full fledged document specification you are used to: it has all the supported output formats selected and all options are set to the default values you are used to.
You can modify this document specification to suit your needs:
- remove unnecessary formats
- specify style sheets
- specify macros
- change the default values for metadata properties (OLEs as static images, missing data text etc)
- change the default values for output properties (update fields,
- specify default templates (like a company title page)
- set the default output paths
NOTE: I recommend copying and editing the default document specification in a different location and then copying it back in the RPE_HOME folder to avoid the problem described here.
Using this my default document specification now looks like this: