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In the never-ending battle of documents waged in law firms across the country, the devil lies in the details and the exorcist lies in software tools that automate and expedite tedious work. When it comes to document comparison utilities, a solution must maintain the integrity of one’s original work while simultaneously enabling colleagues, co-counsel, clients, and even opposing counsel to make changes and suggestions that are easy to spot. Given these parameters, law firms should consider Workshare Technology’s DeltaView document comparison utility ( http://www.workshare.net), which I recently implemented on 18 workstations in my small firm. Workshare Technology designed DeltaView with legal professionals in mind: it enables collaboration while understanding fundamentally that minor changes to language can result in significant gains or losses. DeltaView works as follows. Once a document is ready for being compared, DeltaView loads a replica, stripped of metadata (the underlying description of the data). DeltaView then compares the modified and original documents side-by-side in a single window (or you can view the original and changed document in “panes”), and makes no changes to the original document. DeltaView integrates with more than 16 word processing programs, including Corel WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, and Lotus WordPro, as well as with popular document management systems such as PC Docs, Worldox, and iManage. As a user of Worldox and Word (and WordPerfect at a client’s request), I researched and extensively tested DeltaView before implementing it a few months ago, and would recommend this product for those who are looking for a document comparison program, especially now that CompareRite has been discontinued; Workshare has a special promotion for users of CompareRite). I purchased DeltaView based on the following criteria: � Performance DeltaView is flat out better than any of the native word processing blackliners, and also better than the aforementioned CompareRite, which we previously used. As opposed to other products, DeltaView correctly shows “Changes Only” in tables, and also shows changes in Word when you use Auto-Number. DeltaView is also stable: it has not caused GPFs or crashes on any Windows 95 or 98 box, and the current version is also very stable on Windows 2000. � Integration Although Workshare claims that DeltaView integrates with document management systems, I would verify the extent of this “integration” with the provider of your particular document management system. We use Worldox, and it only integrates “one way” with DeltaView, not round trip. In other words, to perform a “Compare” and “Save it as New Document” takes us about six clicks instead of one. DeltaView may, however, integrate two ways with some other popular document management systems. � Bugs Thus far, we have not discovered any “class 1 bugs” (i.e., operational glitches that materially affect the program’s ability to perform as documented). We have, however, found some integration design bugs in either DeltaView or Worldox. For example, when we use DeltaView to compare a document, and leave DeltaView running, sometimes we cannot directly save the document in Worldox if we later perform another comparison. As a result, once DeltaView generates a document, we close the program. Another nagging configuration issue concerns Worldox’s default “.wdf” format, which we often forget to change to “.doc” when saving (DeltaView enables you to set the default file format, but we have been unable to make use of this feature with Worldox). That said, when we save a comparison as a “.doc,” DeltaView will not show left/right vertical bars where changes have been made. Finally, as intimated above, I consider the lack of two-way integration with Worldox a design bug. � Cost and Value Fortunately, DeltaView is reasonably priced. Small firms such as mine can implement the technology without dipping too deeply into the till. A 10-person firm, for example, can purchase DeltaView for less than $1,000. Simply tell Workshare how many computers you have, and it will quote you a price. If the number of computers at your firm grows by 10 percent to 15 percent, you can continue using the same license. Workshare only asks that you renegotiate your license if your firm grows significantly (and I suspect from my experience that Workshare would be quite reasonable in this regard). Workshare charges a mandatory 18 percent service fee for the first year. In my practice, I primarily serve software companies so I can attest that this rate is the industry standard for enterprise-class products, and reasonable considering that you receive unlimited telephone support and upgrades. If, after the first year, you choose not to pay the service fee, Workshare may charge you for future releases of DeltaView, which is not surprising. � Features, Overhead, And Support DeltaView boasts more options and features than we could possibly use. The bells and whistles include customization tools such as colors and surrounding characters to display differences. Though you may find differently, the default comparison template works fine for us. Regarding overhead, DeltaView loads the entire program for a one-way comparison so it does consume some memory, but nothing that should cause a problem for law firms equipped with reasonably current equipment. As for support, Workshare’s employees were responsive to our questions before, during, and after our purchase and implementation. Workshare has continued to impress us with its commitment to customer service. CONCLUSION No software product will perfectly fit into your workflow, but DeltaView is one of those quality solutions that is worth implementing in your firm. It does what it promises very well, and the company’s commitment to service leads me to believe it will eventually iron out the Worldox-related annoyances discussed above. Some of my peers have complained about its price, but I consider DeltaView reasonably priced because it truly delivers a return on investment in the form of increased productivity (i.e., it removes the devil from the details). ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mike Oliver is an attorney at Bowie & Jensen in Towson, Md., and Vice President of the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers Inc. You can reach Mike via e-mail ( [email protected]). ABOUT THE TECHNOLAWYER COMMUNITY This article originated in The TechnoLawyer Community, a free online community in which legal professionals share information about business and technology issues, products, and services, often developing valuable business relationships in the process. To join The TechnoLawyer Community, visit the following Web site: http://www.technolawyer.com.

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