Template Changes

I have an idea that I was thinking might be helpful to all but maybe it is just another crazy idea so let me know your thoughts.

I have custom templates setup as likely most of us have. I have edited the Taxcycle defaults to my liking.

Each year possibly we might want to incorporate changes that Taxcycle may have made in the default. I would rather not edit the whole template over each year to make sure I don’t miss any of their changes. I was thinking it would be nice if there was a spot we could go where we could see the changes that have been made year to year so we could essentiality do some cut and paste of the relevant sections changes.

I thought this would be easier than pouring over the entire template coding.

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Yes, that is a wonderful Idea! That would be very helpful in updating our custom templates. It does take a while to do a comparison to see what the new Taxcycle additions are and whether we want to incorporate them into our custom template.

I too would love this option.

Yes. Comparison please. Can be as simple as a sample doc with removals crossed out and changes added in a different colour.

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Has anyone thought about using Word to compare the two? Word does offer an excellent comparison feature which will do exactly what you asked. Run it against the prior year vs the new, or template vs the new.

There are several program out there that do the same thing for text files. Since the templates are essentially rtf files, any of them will work.

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Post updated on 2019-01-24

Of course using MS Word for comparison is an option. The purpose of requesting an alternate method is to reduce the friction of using the MS Word method. Options, settings, and templates need to be tested against use cases. Usually this is done each year in an iterative manner during the months of Nov to Feb, as new releases are rolled out. What is needed are tools to assist in a more comprehensive procedure because we love that TaxCycle is feature rich with frequent small tweaks and periodic major enhancements. We certainly do not wish to slow that process down.

At some point in time, it would be great to have a tool set and testing methodology for our customizations such as letter templates.

For me, the purpose of asking for tools, procedures, and test cases (whenever that may fit into the development cycle) is to help to improve the quality and consistency of my custom letters while reducing the time and seemingly haphazard method that I use currently to test and check the results.

It is simply a matter of wanting to reduce the time and mind share of the current dragged out method of checking periodically.

It is a desire to ease the implementation of settings, options, and templates at the beginning of the major crunch period. Without test files we need to create our own to test and check the various templates and letter output. This is more in line with the usually programing implementation methodology of development, test, fix, test, approve, then implement.

Unfortunately it is usually in late March the I discover those quirks or gottchas that I hadn’t considered in Jan or early Feb. Late March, when the crunch is on and when my mind is in auto pilot, and, when the last thing that I want to do is to think about technically testing and fixing options, settings, and templates.

That was one of the major issues with Profile. Sometime during the third or fourth week of March some update from CRA and/or Profile would create a major issue and halt the works for a few hours or a few days.

Clients do not like this. Nor do I.

It’s not a bad idea but it is not as easy to do as it sounds. We’d need to do this in a way this isn’t going overwhelm the reader or us with maintenance. (Thanks @TimParris for reminding about the comparison in Word… it is very detailed and miht be the best bet for now.)

Some thoughts:

  1. The current-year templates change with each release, so we would have to decide what version to compare it against? The last version of the template, or the 2017 version?
  2. Add to that, when it makes sense, we try to go back to the prior year and make similar changes too. If you’ve ever added multiple comparison into a Word doc, you’ll start to see why this can get complicated to read.
  3. Finally, there are several different letters (Joint, Deceased, Client) and in both languages. It starts to get really time intensive for us too.

Meanwhile, I have worked hard to list the significant changes in detail in each release notes. (Check the last release notes, for example.) This should point you to a good starting point.

Finally, we’re not done yet with changes this year. There are more changes to come this season as we work through more suggestions too.

I’ll keep your suggestion in mind @Arliss. I’m thinking about this but am still trying to find an effective and efficient way to communicate these changes:

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I agree with Elizabeth - the time to do a Word Comparison on each version is not worth the small changes that MAY result if you haven’t followed her release notes.

The release notes are very good (thanks Elizabeth) and for the most part, there really is no need for changing the letters if you let them populate as is. Sometimes, less is more guys…

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