Activewords is a automation program on steriods. I tried it and found that it didn’t suit my needs, but it all depends on how you work. See for yourself at their web site. They graciously asked for my comments about the program, so I wrote back the following:
I’m, perhaps…a somewhat “older” computer user. In general I find if my computer interupts me with some kind of suggestion or pop-up, or if it fills things in automatically, I have found that to be distracting enough that it seems to offset the possible time savings. I’m a fast typist, and when single words are filled in, for example with passwords or phrases in Microsoft Word, I’ve almost completed the typing before the word comes in. So, then I have to:
1. look at the word
2. determine whether it is or is not what I want
3. confirm the action or the word
4. or keep typing.
Frankly, it is easier just to keep typing.
So, I’ve turned off those functions in Word. When programming in Visual Studio/Visual FoxPro/Java I turn off “tool tips”, and Intellisense, and all that stuff, (which is not to say that I don’t call it up once in a while to review the syntax of something).
I also use keyboard shortcuts a lot, and I’ve memorized most of them for Windows. So, the benefit of Activewords in that respect is less than might be for someone who uses the mouse a a lot. I also have dual 21″ screens…so once things are open, then I have enough screen real-estate to keep things open…and I tend not to have more than two or three applications open at a time anyway.
I do use (and pay for!) some add-ins… X-1 has been in use for several months, and OnFolio has become indespensible. These tend to sit behind the scenes and come up only on demand, and they leverage my ability to find information without adding to my distraction.
I work with a lot of older computer users and novices. I find that they suffer greatly from the complexity of the Windows interface. ActiveWords would be a godsend to those people who know what they are automating…but could be a nightmare for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing yet. Clearly for a slow typist, or a disabled person, Activewords would be a godsend, and I don’t deny that for a large segment of the population Activewords is just the ticket.