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Python vs Visual Basic

P: n/a
I want to create a program that will ask a user a series of questions
and then generate a Microsoft Word document whose content is dictated
by the answers. I am not a professional programmer, and I understand
only a little about OO programming. Should I

a) stick to -- *gasp* -- Visual Basic to accomplish my goal;

b) use Python, with which I am somewhat familiar, and which I would
prefer to use; or

c) find another hobby because I am only going to end up hurting
myself?

I am aware of the COM tools within Python, but I have not been able to
find documentation that makes much sense. Any pointers to good,
basic-level documentation would be much appreciated.
Jul 18 '05 #1
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8 Replies


P: n/a
Orange Free wrote:
I want to create a program that will ask a user a series of questions
and then generate a Microsoft Word document whose content is dictated
by the answers. I am not a professional programmer, and I understand
only a little about OO programming. Should I

a) stick to -- *gasp* -- Visual Basic to accomplish my goal;

b) use Python, with which I am somewhat familiar, and which I would
prefer to use; or

c) find another hobby because I am only going to end up hurting
myself?

I am aware of the COM tools within Python, but I have not been able to
find documentation that makes much sense. Any pointers to good,
basic-level documentation would be much appreciated.


I'm sure either language will be fine for the "asking questions"
part. In either case the hard times come in order to generate the
word document -- if you want to drive Microsoft Word for the purpose,
which is marginally easier from VB but not so much as to matter,
you need to learn something about the MS Word object model, which
IS quite rich and complicated.

May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps you might be satisfied with
generating a foo.rtf rather than foo.doc file. Now, the RTF format
isn't much easier or better documented than the DOC format, but it
has the advantage that RTF format files are TEXT. Thus, you could
prepare a "TEMPLATE" RTF file, using recognizable placeholders for
or around the parts of contents you may want to change; the
process of "generating the output" then becomes quite simple:
read the template RTF file, remove placeholders and contained
text around pieces you want to omit, substitute placeholders for
parts you need to substitute, remove all other placeholders only,
emit the resulting text, done. There are many templating systems
you can find on the net for Python, but, really, doing your own
is no biggie either.
Alex

Jul 18 '05 #2

P: n/a
Alex Martelli wrote:

Orange Free wrote:

May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps you might be satisfied with
generating a foo.rtf rather than foo.doc file. Now, the RTF format
isn't much easier or better documented than the DOC format, but it
has the advantage that RTF format files are TEXT.


I just looked at some RTF's, and they contain Ascii character 10's (\n)
not paired with Ascii character 13's (\r). This is not a TEXT
format file according to MS's OS's. If you try to write this data from
Python as a text file, you'll get the \r's inserted automatically, the
contents of the file will change, and who knows what will result.

Still, the rtf format is a good one because other programs more
affordable than MS Word do a reasonably good job of reading and
writing it.

Al
Jul 18 '05 #3

P: n/a

"Orange Free" <or**********@yahoo.ca> wrote in message
news:sl*************************@localhost.localdo main...
I want to create a program that will ask a user a series of questions and then generate a Microsoft Word document whose content is dictated by the answers. I am not a professional programmer, and I understand only a little about OO programming. Should I

a) stick to -- *gasp* -- Visual Basic to accomplish my goal;

b) use Python, with which I am somewhat familiar, and which I would
prefer to use; or

c) find another hobby because I am only going to end up hurting
myself?

I am aware of the COM tools within Python, but I have not been able to find documentation that makes much sense. Any pointers to good,
basic-level documentation would be much appreciated.


Mark Hammond, who wrote the Windows extensions that include the COM
tools, also wrote Python Programming on Win 32. Oreilly's page
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pythonwin32/
has a link to the following sample chapter
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/pytho...pter/ch12.html
Chapter 12 Advanced Python and COM.

Several c.l.py posts have given other examples of COM programming.

TJR
Jul 18 '05 #4

P: n/a
On Mon, 13 Oct 2003 07:56:45 -0700, ac*****@easystreet.com wrote:
Alex Martelli wrote:

Orange Free wrote:

May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps you might be satisfied with
generating a foo.rtf rather than foo.doc file. Now, the RTF format
isn't much easier or better documented than the DOC format, but it
has the advantage that RTF format files are TEXT.


I just looked at some RTF's, and they contain Ascii character 10's (\n)
not paired with Ascii character 13's (\r). This is not a TEXT
format file according to MS's OS's. If you try to write this data from
Python as a text file, you'll get the \r's inserted automatically, the
contents of the file will change, and who knows what will result.


I just looked at an RTF file generated by MS Word. It had standard
MS-DOS line ends.

I believe that RTF doesn't much care which line-end convention you
use. RTF is meant to be a platform independent interchange file, so I
suspect programs importing them are expected to handle all common
conventions and the programs creating them probably use whatever line
end convention is normal on that platform.

Line ends are actually mostly irrelevant in RTF files. Paragraph
breaks, for instance, are specified by the '\par' RTF command. Even if
you put a line break in the middle of a text word, it doesn't seem to
break the word up once imported into Word.

I believe the line end counts as whitespace where RTF requires
whitespace, but that is its only significance. Other than that it is
ignored. Though I haven't double checked, so don't sue me if there are
some cases where that isn't true.

Certainly in the context of Alex Martellis suggestion, the "what will
result" is basically no problems whatsoever. Well, OK, I suppose the
file size will get a few bytes shorter ;-)
--
Steve Horne

steve at ninereeds dot fsnet dot co dot uk
Jul 18 '05 #5

P: n/a
<posted & mailed>

Alex Martelli wrote:
Orange Free wrote:
I want to create a program that will ask a user a series of
questions and then generate a Microsoft Word document whose
content is dictated
by the answers. I am not a professional programmer, and I
understand
only a little about OO programming. Should I

[snip]
May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps you might be satisfied with
generating a foo.rtf rather than foo.doc file. Now, the RTF
format isn't much easier or better documented than the DOC format,
but it
has the advantage that RTF format files are TEXT.


I've read that the latest version of MS Word (or MS Office?) heavily
uses XML. If that's true, perahps you should consider generating
foo.xml that follows the MS Word XML document definition (again, if
there is such a thing).

Here is a quote from Tim Bray:

<quote>When asked how XML-enabling will make a difference in MS
Office, Bray quickly zeroes in on what in his view is the key
differentiator in an XML-enabled Office suite vs the current one.
"The important thing," he explains, "is that Word and Excel (and of
course the new XDocs thing) can export their data as XML without
information loss. It seems Word can also edit arbitrary XML
languages under the control of an XML Schema, but I'm actually more
excited by the notion of Word files also being XML files."</quote>

And here is a link to the complete article:

http://www3.sys-con.com/xml/rotate.cfm

[snip]

Dave

--
Dave Kuhlman
http://www.rexx.com/~dkuhlman
dk******@rexx.com
Jul 18 '05 #6

P: n/a
Stephen Horne wrote:

Certainly in the context of Alex Martellis suggestion, the "what will
result" is basically no problems whatsoever. Well, OK, I suppose the
file size will get a few bytes shorter ;-)


That's good. I've seen some RTF's that end with a binary 0 byte.
That's not text either, but the RTF's I looked at today, probably
created by Abiword or Open Office, don't have it.

Can't RTF's contain arbitrary binary data embedded within (eg images)?
Al
Jul 18 '05 #7

P: n/a
Can't RTF's contain arbitrary binary data embedded within (eg images)?

From the RTF specification:

Pictures
An RTF file can include pictures created with other applications. These
pictures can be in hexadecimal (the default) or binary format.
Jul 18 '05 #8

P: n/a
Dave Kuhlman wrote:
...
questions and then generate a Microsoft Word document whose
... May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps you might be satisfied with
generating a foo.rtf rather than foo.doc file. Now, the RTF
... I've read that the latest version of MS Word (or MS Office?) heavily
uses XML. If that's true, perahps you should consider generating
foo.xml that follows the MS Word XML document definition (again, if


If it's OK to generate a MS Word document file that's only readable
by Windows/XP or however they call their latest version, Dave is most
probably right. In most cases in which I've been asked to generate
Office files, compatibility to previous releases (generally back to
Office'97) was a requirement, expressed or implied (many non-techies don't
realize this requirement isn't _automatically_ satisfied...) so I tend to
assume it -- sorry, I should have made it explicit (but then so should the
OP have, so we're even:-).
Alex

Jul 18 '05 #9

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