Category Archives: Featured

Webinar: Data Visualization and NodeXL and Marc Smith

nodeXLgraphAnalyzing and presenting your data is a daunting task. OfficeWriter makes it easier. Next week, we’re making it easier still with a new webinar on data visualization. Joining us is special guest Marc Smith, creator of NodeXL.

Marc Smith is the Chief Social Scientist at Connected Action Consulting group. Prior to that he worked at Microsoft Research, where he created NodeXL, an Excel add-in, which allows you to import and visualize your social network data, anything from email to Twitter to Flickr and beyond.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • The origins of NodeXL and what it could mean for businesses in regards to social networks
  • How to find the connections and patterns within your social network communities
  • How to use NodeXL to graph the connections between trending Twitter conversations

Q&A with Marc Smith

Leave with new ideas on graphically representing your data, and see how social can impact your business.

When: September 11, 2013 at 1 P.M. EST/10 A.M. PST

*Register early as seating is limited. Can’t attend? Register anyway and we’ll send a copy of the slides and recording following the webinar. Just be sure to write “Request for slides” in the notes section, so we have an accurate head count. Thank you!

Baseball’s All-Star Break: Predicting the Game Using Excel

Major League Baseball

In keeping with my sports theme from March, on March Madness and predicting the NCAA tournament, it is time to look at this season’s sport: Baseball. As you might know, Major League Baseball’s All-Star game is tonight, so let’s use Excel to pick which league (the AL or NL) will be victorious, so we can kick back and enjoy the game.

Baseball has long been associated with using stats to predict outcomes and player performances. This was made famous in the movie Moneyball, and has its own cottage industry around helping fantasy baseball players perform better. There is no shortage of information that can be gathered about baseball, with the whole industry even having deemed the term: sabermetrics.

Before jumping into the vastness of data, however, I want to point out where we are getting the data from. There are many different sources for baseball stats, many requiring a fee, but I will be referring to the Sean Lahman Baseball Stats Database. It is open source, so you can just download a version that works for you, and run with it. I am only going to look at the players who have actually appeared in the All-Star game and their year’s performance.

The other source of data is the year-to-date stats for the All-Star players. These can be gathered from the many, many sports sites (like, but is a manual process. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to copy and paste those! You can find the sum of those in the example file attached.

Just to simplify things, we are going to use the old standbys: Earned Run Averages (ERA) and Batting Averages (BA) to compare the two Major League Baseball leagues. The other consideration is to analyze data from just the “Long Ball Era,” which started in 1994. Since the sport has been around so very long, it helps to categorize the data so you get a better apples-to-apples comparison.

The first step is to get the data into your database. I used the Access file download, since SQL Server 2008 R2 can import that directly, and you don’t have to do any of the conversions. The data is also available in CSV and MySQL format. Now that we have a nice almost relational database, all we need are a couple of SQL statements to get the data for our processing needs. (They have been attached for reference.)

On to building our Excel workbook. Continue reading Baseball’s All-Star Break: Predicting the Game Using Excel

[Webinar] Grand Slam Your SSRS Reports

June Webinar

Tune in next week Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1 P.M. for our June webinar as we give you another inside look at how OfficeWriter enhances SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), making your reports a home run. Senior Sales Engineer, Chad Evans, will walk you through using both single and multi-value parameters and formulas in SSRS. Using baseball data on players’ batting averages and salaries, this webinar is sure to impress. Don’t miss out! Seating is limited.

*Can’t attend? Register anyway, and we’ll send a copy of the slides and recording following the webinar.

What’s new in OfficeWriter 8.5

Spring has sprung, bringing with it our newest release of OfficeWriter: OfficeWriter 8.5!  What’s in store for this maintenance release? Scroll down to see the latest additions our development team has been working on.

WordTemplate – Embed DOCX files into templates

In OfficeWriter 8.0, we added the ability to embed RTF or HTML documents in Word files with WordTemplate.  The feature uses the document modifier to signify that a RTF or HTML document will be inserted. To learn more about using the document modifier, see our guide on inserting an embedded document under our WordTemplate Tutorials.


We have also extended the feature to include DOCX files. Now you can embed other Word documents into your WordWriter templates. Continue reading What’s new in OfficeWriter 8.5

Boston Strong BBQ: A Benefit for the K-9 Comfort Dogs

In light of recent events, we want to bring our community of Watertown together and share in the strength and pride of our town. Next Friday, May 3rd, we will be hosting a BBQ to benefit the K-9 Comfort Dogs, who traveled from Chicago and Newtown, CT to be with us here in Boston.

The K-9 Comfort dogs are a bundle of furry, affectionate Golden Retrievers, trained to provide comfort and care to those affected by tragedy. They were stationed at First Lutheran Church on Berekeley St. after the bombings and went around to the hospitals to visit those affected. They also provided much comfort to one of our employees, who ran the Boston Marathon. As such, they are a cause very close to our hearts. So stop by, grab some food, meet your Watertown neighbors, and support a good cause. We are one Boston.

When: Friday, May 3rd, 12pm – 2pm EST

SoftArtisans / Riparian Data HQ
3 Brook St.
Watertown, MA 02472

Can’t make it, but still feel like donating? You can do so here: LCC Comfort Dogs

[hs_contact name=”SoftArtisans” address=”3 Brook St.” citystate=”Watertown, MA, 02472″ phone=”6176078800″ display=”both”]

Meet the Team: Nick

Hello and welcome to our Meet the Team series, in which we aim to give you deeper insight into the minds and personalities of those who make up this eclectic, close-knit group. We are developers, marketers, and technical support engineers, and at work we craft everything from Microsoft reporting APIs to mobile email applications. And outside of work? Let’s just say racing against the machine during hackathons, building architecturally sound beer towers during retros, and paddling down the Charles during the warmer months are simply the beginning.

Meet the TeamMeet Nick. Our systems admin and skilled crew champ and cook. While he claims he doesn’t know what’s wrong with your wi-fi (see below), we’re pretty sure he can fix just about anything.

1. What do you do?
I get paid to play with computers? In all seriousness, I’m the systems admin for SoftArtisans, which means I maintain our server infrastructure, build system images, troubleshoot printers, reset passwords, and ensure that our websites stay up.

2. What are you listening to right now?
Lately, I’ve been listening to Spotify quite a bit, but usually I just have the Hype Machine’s popular channel on. It’s a great place to discover artists, and really changed how I listen and think about music over the past few years.

3. If you could build any app, what would it be and why?
Something that lets me execute remote commands from my phone – simple stuff like resetting a password, rebooting a server, restarting a service – that sort of thing. It’d be a huge security hole in any network, but it’d be nice to have when I’m out to lunch and just need to do something quick.

4. When you were 5 what did you want to be and why?
I wanted to be a Marine Biologist because I was fascinated with Robert Ballard (the guy who found the Titanic, the Bismark, and a number of other ships). Sadly, I soon realized that most of them don’t spend all their time hunting for shipwrecks.

5. If you were a beer what would you be and why? Continue reading Meet the Team: Nick

Stories from the WIT Trenches: Adriana Gascoigne

[This is the thirteenth in a series of posts exploring the personal stories of real women in technology. Every woman in tech overcame, at the very least, statistical odds to be here; this blog series aims to find out why, and what they found along the way.  This week we met up with Adriana Gascoigne (ln), founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, Inc. If reading her story inspires you to share yours, please email me.]


Adriana Gascoigne is the founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, Inc. As a woman in tech, her passion lies in empowering, engaging and educating other women within the tech community. With an impressive background steeped in marketing, branding and business development, Adriana’s worked for companies such as hi5, SocialGamingNetwork, Edelman, and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. She’s also worked in an advisory capacity to Intel along with startups like Startup Exchange and Involver. Today you can find her launching HelpLearnAsia, an eLearning platform, which teaches SMEs in Asia online marketing tools. Chat with her in Spanish, Japanese or French about her passion and dedication to furthering women in tech.

1. Can you take us back to your “eureka!” moment—a particular instance or event that got you interested in technology?

The very first startup that I worked at (GUBA) was my light bulb moment in technology. It was a dream to be able to work with such a diversified group of technology professionals, while building a groundbreaking product and having such an impact in the development process of something so scalable, fun and useful.

I never thought that I would be so amused with my job at a startup; however, when something that you get paid for turns into a hobby, that’s when you know you’ve hit your “eureka” moment. So, I thank GUBA for breaking me into the industry. Technology will always be a part of my career.

2. Growing up, did you have any preconceived perceptions of the tech world and the kinds of people who lived in it?

Yes, I think everyone on the outside does. I believed that the technology industry was filled with massive amounts of coders and that was it. “Code monkeys” stuck in their cubicles typing out their 1’s and 0’s until the carpal tunnel kicked in. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

While the technology industry thrives on the talents of coders, developers and engineers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were the only people involved in the innovation, design and monetization strategy behind the product or service. Innovation is the execution of an elaboration of something new, fresh and interesting, and I strongly believe that it takes a team of diversified professionals to build something that will work.

I didn’t realize this when I was growing up and now, through Girls in Tech, we consistently evangelize the fact that the technology industry caters to all different types of professionals with unique experiences and levels of “techie” aptitude.

3. As founder of Girls in Tech, what led you to this career path? When did you first start working with tech? Was it by choice?

Really, I fell into working in the technology industry when I relocated from Miami to San Francisco. I was debating on Continue reading Stories from the WIT Trenches: Adriana Gascoigne

My Beef with Tech Acronyms


With mouthfuls like Application Service Providers and SQL Server Reporting Services (thank you, Microsoft) floating around the tech blogosphere, it’s no wonder why we want to shorten these phrases. We just want to try to make our lives a little easier, save a few precious moments, increase our productivity. But are we really making it easier to understand or just muddying the waters?

Here’s my beef with acronyms. I don’t like them. If I could avoid acronyms at all costs, I would. Why the disdain, you ask? Why pick up the battle cry and lead the charge against these meant-to-be-helpful shorteners? Simple. Because they’re not helpful. They’re downright confusing.

  1. You have multiple groups using different phrases for the same acronym. And most of the time people using these acronyms provide no context, no frame of reference for what they’re talking about. They just throw in the acronym in to the abyss hoping it sticks.
  2. It takes time to decipher these meanings. The time and energy it takes to figure out what in the world people are trying to communicate voids any time you saved tweeting, posting, texting the message because your audience did not get it, or it took several more texts, tweets, and posts to hash(tag) out the exact meaning.

Here’s a fun test. What do the following acronyms stand for?


Did you answer Structured Query Language, Software as a Service, and Management Information System? Well, you would be correct. But if you answered Sender Que Low, Storage as a Service, and Mobile information Server you would also be correct.

Shane O’Neill from CIO investigated 10 New Ridiculous Tech Acronyms, letting me know I’m not the only one with these frustrations. Not surprisingly, enterprise software companies were the biggest offenders. Among the listed ridiculous acronyms Continue reading My Beef with Tech Acronyms

[Webinar] Making Reporting Easier with SSRS Designer Ribbon

SSRS Webinar

With data sets tied to different data sources and multiple people handling one report, the process of building a report can get messy. OfficeWriter’s built-in Designer Ribbon makes it easier to interact with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), helping you access reports from your applications on time and with ease. Join us Friday, March 22nd as our Senior Sales Engineer, Chad Evans, shows you how this feature makes using SSRS simpler.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • How to build an SSRS report from start to finish using the OfficeWriter designer ribbon
  • How to easily open existing reports, create new ones, and view reports in process with SSRS

We will also have a question and answer period at the end of the webinar. Feel free to send in questions prior to the webinar so that we can include them in the presentation.

When: Friday, March 22nd at 1 P.M. EST

Can’t attend, but still want a copy of the recording and slides? Register below and we’ll email it out following the webinar.

**Spots are limited. So please register early to secure your seat.

The Robots Can Have the World, Just Let Me Keep Drinking in It (a SXSW Countdown of sorts)

Headed to SXSW this year? Well, you’re in good company. So is our partner company Riparian Data. Not only are they unveiling their new email app, Gander, they’re on a mission to synthesize the latest and greatest innovations and A-list after parties in one pithy newsletter. Check it out here and get a SXSW preview below.
sxswi parties

​Image via FEED

Author: Claire

At standup today (cuz we scrummy like that), Christina said that one of the things she needed to do was to sign up for SxStuff.

To which I said, in my head and on this here blog, “bout dang time, girl.”

To which she said, in real life, “but there is just so much stuff—it’s overwhelming.”

As the type of person who eschews the Bloomingdales and Barney’s Warehouse sales for shoebox boutiques selling three variations of sailor shirts, I feel her pain. Sooo, I went and compiled a list of Stuff You Ought Not Miss. A couple lists, actually—one for our newsletter (sign up here!) and one for the blog. The latter is more of a potpourri, but it’s a kicky one, je vous promis.

Non-perMissable sessions:

1. Open-source Empathy: Humans as Dynamic Systems

  • By: Daniel Buckley (b t)
  • Why: It’s about our resistance to interpersonal connection, through the lens of media system interaction. I think.

2. Creating a DIY API: Open Source for Makers

  • By: Kate Covington (t)
  • Why: Open source fashion sounds like an awesome way to stick it to a) LVHM and b) counterfitters. Why buy fake when you can make?

3. Hacking Cities for a Better, Sustainable Tomorrow

By: Abhi Nemani (b t), Bryan Walsh (b t), Erika Diamond (in), Rachel Haot (t)

Why: Community-driven digital and technological engagement is a cheap and effective way to improve cities, and learning about some of the civic-improvement apps from some seriously smart, keyed-in citizenry seems like a good way to kickstart innovation in your community.

4) Is There an Alternative to Ad-Supported Social Networking?

  • By: Dalton Caldwell (b t)
  • Why: Last year, Caldwell published a critique of ad-supported social networking, and proposed a subscription-based, ad-free solution. Then he built it. While I have to confess I haven’t managed to make part of my daily routine (unlike Quibb), I’m eager to hear what Dalton has to say about it.

5) Industrial Revolution 3.0 and the Future of 3D Printing

  • By: Mike Senese (b t) and Peter Weigmarshausen (b t)
  • Why: If 3D printers really are the harbinger of the next industrial revolution, I want to know more about them and they impact they’ll have, and if I should like, take a hardware engineering class or something. And who better to tell me than Wired’s senior editor and Shapeways’ CEO?

Girrrl, you don’t go to Sx for the sessions, you say. Fiiinnne, you want parties? Here are some of the best (and booziest).

Non-perMissable parties:​ Continue reading The Robots Can Have the World, Just Let Me Keep Drinking in It (a SXSW Countdown of sorts)