Initial Design 2

This design follows the template-driven conceptual model of the North Woods Mail Merge 2005 approach. The user begins with the screen on top. In this screen, the user can see a listing of the templates available along with some information about each one. There is also a portion of the screen devoted to previewing the selected template. This would allow the possibility of editing the template without moving to a new screen. The templates are sorted by date of creation by default. Underlined templates (clickable, as a hyperlink) signify that other templates were created with this as the default; think of them as meta-templates. From this screen, a user may create a new template or select one to edit or merge.

Creating or editing a template has a simplified Word-like interface, which users are familiar with, but a few useful tools would be on the side. In this screen, or perhaps in the transition to this screen, a user may select the database to use for the merge. The program would remember which databases correspond to the templates so that a user would only have to enter this information upon creation of the template. As the user creates the document to be merged, buttons along the side would be available to insert commonly used fields. For instance, the user could click on an icon of a person in order to instantly insert the name field; a picture of a house to insert the address fields. There would be a button to customize these buttons and create new ones.

Next, the user would save the template by hitting a familiar button with a disk on it, and no file hierarchy system would be needed. The program would just save everything in a default directory so the user needs not worry about where to save templates unless he wants to. There is also a merge button that would take the currently edited message to the merge screen.

The merge screen would have a list of the entries to be merged, along with checkboxes to allow the user to filter entries manually. This interface would also be able to filter entries automatically. When an entry is selected, it is displayed below in an auto-preview window. The personalized information would be here, highlighted. The user could edit any parts of the message here and could expand the window by clicking a prominent arrow pointing upwards (with a tool tip, too). This screen would also allow the user to move on to sending the letters as emails or to the printer.