Natural output for Word/Excel use

For maybe close to 2 decades we have had our mainframe Natural reports distributed to users as email attachments that, when loaded into Word or Excel, a home-written macro was run to ensure the output was properly formatted to make it readable.

We are now getting pressure - especially from some in our user base who are outside our company - to find another solution as they are increasingly resistant to loading our macros onto their computers. It’s been called “hokey” the way we do things and are in search of a better solution.

Is there anyone in the community here who sends Natural job output over email as attachments that are formatted to be opened in Word and Excel that does things a different way (doesn’t require the end-user to have a macro to ensure proper formatting is done)?

Any alternate solution would be considered, whether it be a product or a home-written one.

Thanks in advance!


I’m curious what formatting needs to be done by a macro? As macros have been hijacked as a virus vector, it is hard to distribute them now.

A template I could see, but not sure why your Word doc would need a macro. I did something like this about 20 years ago, but not as email attachments. I’d probably see if I could send this out as HTML/XML instead of Word or csv instead of Excel now - you can embed the css styles for formatting inline to make the content readable.

If the users are just supposed to read the report (not actually do anything else with it in Word) then why use Word at all? As Douglas already pointed out, there are formats that are quite easy to create from Natural and you would not even need Word to read them, a standard web browser would be enough.

Excel files can also easily be replaced by CSV files for example, those are dead easy to create from Natural.


Brian, we once in a project on Siebel worked with shell script executed by control-m job.

The steps were the following

  • provider do the ftp of the unformatted file to his output folder;
  • [control-m] ftp to our pre-load folder;
  • [control-m] shell script job which is basically SED, AWK and basic commands to work the file content;
  • [control-m] ftp to load folder;
  • [control-m] execute .bat file to run Siebel component that will import the formatted file.

if you have control-m too, you could work the file internally and then control-m send it already formatted.