Ever wondered how software developers use document comparison in their apps and web services? We spoke with Mobile Helix – developers of software solutions that make it easy for lawyers to be productive using smartphones and tablets – to learn more about the comparison feature available in their secure container app. Missed Part 1? Catch up here.
For lawyers, the devil is in the details, since the smallest detail can make or break a case. That is why document comparison is such an integral part of a lawyer’s billable work. Perhaps a hundred-page contract was amended by another party, and it’s to the detriment of your client. If Track Changes aren’t turned on it’s likely you won’t pick this up by just skim-reading the document. If a document comparison application fails to catch every single change, one missed detail could derail a case.
Maureen Blando, President, and COO of Mobile Helix found that it was small details that were causing problems for app users. “Lawyers need accurate document comparison to do the best job possible for their clients. The LINK App had built-in comparison functionality that used technology like Word’s comparison functionality,” she explained. “But it soon became obvious that it wasn’t going to be good enough.”
Why? Because not every change was being found and lawyers knew they couldn’t fully trust it. “It was those small but critical changes missing from the comparison report that meant lawyers weren’t able to rely on the technology,” said Maureen. “Some of the law firms using the app began asking us if we could find document comparison technology that was more accurate, and we knew we had to deliver it to retain their business.”
The difference with Word
There are key differences between specialist document comparison technology and the compare feature in Microsoft Word. Users have found that Word doesn’t correctly show changes in tables, headers/footers, and footnotes. Many firms rely on their document and practice management systems for version control and efficient workflows. Word doesn’t integrate with these systems.
Word’s compare tool has limited output options for comparison reports. It uses Track Changes within its comparison reports. Track Changes is a kind of document metadata that can be damaging to a firm’s reputation if not properly managed. Some firms prefer reports marked up with redline since it minimizes the risk of revealing metadata.
Generally, though, Microsoft lacks the kind of specialist expertise needed to keep up with the pace of change in the legal technology industry. It hasn’t been able to devote the necessary resources to supporting and developing its comparison feature since it closed its specialist legal team.
Maureen and the team at Mobile Helix began to search for a document comparison SDK that would meet their requirements. “We needed to find a comparison product that was more accurate than Word, but that also offered an SDK that our senior developer could work with,” explained Maureen.
Next, in Part 3, Mobile Helix explains their process of evaluating and selecting document comparison SDK products to trial. In the meantime, you can read the case study to learn more.