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A good way to learn how Mergemill Pro works is to see it in action. We have produced a set of video tutorials that aim to get you easily up to speed. We've also included examples in your installed software package: Mergemill Pro > Mergemill Resources > Examples > English. In addition, the important articles Connection Settings in Mergemill Pro and Some Important Things to Know About Text Encoding are worth reading.


Overview

Mergemill merges static contents in a template with data feeds to generate your desired output. You embed special tags in the template to direct the insertion of contents from feeds you specify.

Content-insertion fields are embedded in the template in the form of the basic tag <?[FieldName]?>. The fields placed between a corresponding pair of <?Loop?> and <?EndLoop?> tags are in-loop fields, and those outside all loop tag pairs are out-loop fields. Field tags may be used to directly insert data values from feeds, or to insert values generated on-the-fly.

When you set up a merge job in Mergemill, you specify an associated template and push a button to parse it. For each new field name found in the template, Mergemill automatically adds a task to the job definition. In the task settings associated with each field, you specify the data column to be fetched, or how the values are to be generated dynamically.

When you run a job, its associated template is executed repeatedly till all primary feeds are exhausted. In each run of the template, Mergemill copies all its static contents to the output, and replaces each field tag with the appropriate data value from its specified source to generate the full output. Depending on what you set the job to do, when Mergemill reaches the end of the template each time, one of several things will happen: the merged text is converted into speech, the merged email is sent, the merged file is saved, the data are used to update an SQL data store, or the data are exported to TSV, CSV or XML files.


Start-Up

The main window appears after you start up Mergemill Pro. The window title bar shows the name of the current Mergemill document.

To enable all features of Mergemill Pro, you need to activate it by entering a valid registration key in the Preferences window. The Preferences window can be displayed by selecting the Preferences... menu item under the Mergemill Pro (Mac) or the Help (Windows) menu. Without a valid registration key, the following restrictions apply:

  1. Each merge field takes a maximum of 50 data values.
  2. Project autoruns are disabled after one hour.
  3. The Import Jobs button is disabled.
  4. The Run Project and Run Job buttons are disabled after 30 days for each newly created Mergemill document.

PLEASE NOTE: Unregistered copies of Mergemill Pro monitors the expiry date of documents by reading a date string at our site. Absolutely nothing from your computer is sent to us except the request for this little piece of data. Registered copies of Mergemill Pro does not communicate with our site, except accessing our online documentation and checking software updates.


Some Helpful Menu Items

To familiarize yourself with the purpose and use of each user interface element, turn on help tips by selecting the Mergemill Pro menu item Help > Show Help Tips. For quick syntax lookup, you may use the menu items Help > Tags Reference and Help > Regex Reference.


Entry Controls in the User Interface

As you specify your settings, items and pages are enabled and disabled appropriately so that you are not distracted by irrelevant objects. For example, the Job setting pages are activated only when you have selected a job name on the Project Job List. Likewise, appropriate Feed setting pages are enabled only when you have selected a task on the Job Task List.


Red-Dot Error Guide

Mergemill Pro was designed to make it easy for you to set up really complex jobs and their associated tasks. An example is the extensive red-dot system to alert you to errors in your job and task settings. Just follow the dots to fix them one by one and you can easily create valid jobs. This enables you to focus your effort more on template designs to create useful solutions that solve real problems.


Mergemill Templates

A Mergemill template contains all the static text to be included in the output, plus the tags to instruct Mergemill Pro on the actions to take. Prepare the template with a simple text editor or Adobe Dreamweaver. Software applications like Microsoft Word are inappropriate for creating or editing templates, because they embed invisible characters that break up what you type, such that Mergemill tags that look innocently proper on your documents are actually unrecognizable to Mergemill Pro.

When creating templates, always keep in mind that all field tags insert contents, whether generated dynamically or from data feeds, and the entire result of processing a template will be the output of the associated job. Remember also that all filter, processing, search-replace, and sorting actions specified in job and task settings are applied to the data values BEFORE the template is run.

If you have edited the current template and parsed it again, it’s possible that some field names have been changed or some fields removed. Mergemill Pro doesn’t delete the tasks for such fields just in case you want them for reference, or want to restore them in the template later. Such fields are marked with "X: " preceding their names. You may delete these fields using the Delete Dormant Tasks button anytime. Dormant tasks are ignored by Mergemill Pro when running a job.


Workflow to Generate Static Web Pages

  1. Start off organized. Create a Job folder that contains the subfolders Template, Source, and Output.
  2. Prepare the template:
    • Create a sample web page to serve as a concrete goal and copy it to the Template folder.
    • Decide which data elements are to be inserted into the page and replace those parts with Mergemill field tags, like <?[Town]?>, which serve as placeholders for the content to be provided by data feeds.
    • Insert other tags, like <?Loop?>...<?EndLoop?> and <?If(...)?> etc., where necessary to control what and how values from your feed are to be inserted.
  3. Copy all supporting files required for the output, such as GIFs, to the Output folder. Mergemill Pro will automatically create all non-existing subfolders in the paths to the output files, but you have to ensure that all hyperlinks in the generated web pages work correctly.
  4. Add a job in Mergemill Pro. Specify the modified webpage as the template and push the Parse Template File button to scan it. For each new field found in the template, Mergemill Pro automatically adds a task to the job definition. You then specify the data feed and data column to be fetched for each field in its task settings, or specify that the values are to be dynamically generated.
  5. Test run the job. Mergemill Pro gets the data values, applies the filter, processing, and search-replace actions to them, and then sorts the data. Next it copies all static content in your template to the output, and replaces each field tag with the appropriate processed data value to generate the output.
  6. Test run and edit your template till you achieve the exact result you desire.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 for each template.


Workflow for Other Jobs

  1. Again, start off organized. Create a Job folder that contains the subfolders Template, Source, and Output.
  2. Create a sample output. This gives you a concrete goal.
  3. Prepare the template using a simple text editor.
  4. Add a job in Mergemill Pro. Specify an associated template and push the Parse Template File button to scan it. For each new field found in the template, Mergemill Pro automatically adds a task to the job definition. You then specify the data feed and data column to be fetched for each field in its task settings, or specify that the values are to be dynamically generated.
  5. Test run the job. Mergemill Pro gets the data values, applies the filter, processing, and search-replace actions to them, and then sorts the data. Next it copies all static content in your template to the output, and replaces each field tag with the appropriate processed data value to generate the output. Depending on what you set the job to do, when Mergemill Pro reaches the end of the template each time, one of several things will happen: the merged English text is spoken, the merged email is sent, the merged file is saved, the data is used to update an SQL data store, or the data are exported to TSV, CSV or XML files.
  6. Test run and edit your template till you achieve the exact result you desire.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 for each template.

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