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In my last three posts I talked about building blocks in general , how to insert and swap out building blocks, and creating building blocks. In today's post I am going to talk about how to deploy your customized building blocks to users. Deploying building blocks is cool because you can push out content for other people to reuse. Think copy and paste to the next level.
Here is a cool scenario:
Let's say you are lawyer who works on legal contracts all the time. You always use the same clauses in certain types of contracts. Instead of copy and pasting from previous documents you save your clause as a building block. Every time you create a new document you then add that clause to your contract by simply using the appropriate building block. Now that you saved time for yourself you decide to help other people out by deploying your custom built building blocks to other people. You are now the hero of your organization because you saved them a bunch of time.
As mentioned in my first post, building blocks are essentially parts of a document that can be reused. All building blocks are contained in galleries in the UI for easy use. Where are these building blocks stored? The simple answer is that the contents of all building block galleries are stored in templates. Specifically, there are several locations you can save your building block content in:
These options are provided to you in the Create New Building Block dialog under the field for Save in when you save a selection as a building block.
All Word built-in building block content is stored in Word's building blocks template, Building Blocks.dotx. For example, out of the box cover page galleries, text box galleries, and equation galleries are all stored in this template. By default, Word selects this building block template as the location to store building blocks. This template is stored in the Document Building Blocks directory (%appdata%\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks). This building blocks template can be distributed to others as long as it is saved in the appropriate directory.
You could also store general purpose content in the Normal template. This option is only recommended if a corporation distributes Normal.dot across the company.
Note: In general, it is recommended that you do not store building blocks in this template as Normal.dot is often deleted during customer support and multi-lingual scenarios when the language is changed.
There are two main scenarios you can accomplish by saving building blocks in a custom template:
If you're putting together a template for a specific kind of document, say a financial report, you can save building blocks into your own custom template. When you create documents based on this template, you will see cover pages, headers, footers, etc. tailored to the specific kind of document. These document-specific building blocks are only available when users are working on documents based on the custom template. Simply distributing the custom template will make those building blocks available to others.
For building blocks that you want to make available for all documents you work on, you can put a template containing them in the Document Building Blocks directory (%appdata%\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks). You can put your own templates directly in the main directory, or within a sub-folder corresponding to a specific language (e.g. the 1033 sub-folder contains parts in English). Word will automatically load any template added to the Document Building Blocks or sub-folder directories in order to combine all of your building blocks for usage in the various galleries. Word building block templates act merely as building block libraries, not as templates that you would base documents on. Deploying the document building blocks directory or custom templates within the directory will allow others to use your building blocks.
Note: If you decide to put your templates in a language sub-folder, Word will only load the parts corresponding to the language of the user interface and to the primary editing language.
Let me know if you have any specific questions or comments.
Building Blocks are obviously powerful, and your article inspired me to think of new possibilities. In the meantime, I'd like to clean out all the stuff I don't use, or at least have the blocks sort alphabetically. Last year I successfully removed all the headers and footers I don't use, but I haven't been able to do the same on my new computer. I have deleted the default headers and footers twice, but when I restart the computer, they're back again.
What is the trick to permanently deleting blocks? If they would sort properly, all I would need to do is use names that would float to the top, but that hasn't worked.
Can building blocks be used to create and deploy a company header containing user specific information pulled say from our email signature or active directory?