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Document Assembly: Reboot How You Create Documents

Industry

This blog will help you understand the working of document assembly and how your business can utilize this modern document creation process for better output.

Document assembly, also known as document automation, involves the use of a software system instead of humans to assist in creating documents. It can add content to the documents by using templates and pre-assigned databases. For a business this could be any kind of document right from a thank you email to bulk contracts that would have been handled by a qualified developer brain.

Sophisticated Flexibility

If you are thinking about features and software like mail merge or Excel that can compute large figures in a spreadsheet, then you have a partial idea of how Document Assembly works, only that it is more sophisticated with a lot more automation that does as much as 80% of what humans could do in the creation of documents.

Automated document assembly software like Windward gives the user a lot of flexibility, yet it still maintains the best practice for the creation of documents, adhering to stringent guidelines. These documents can be managed by computer literate individuals within the company without having to call in the IT department to set up and risking human error in the process of creating documents.  Human input is not completely abandoned in the process. For facts and figures that will need to be updated, human participation can still be involved at any time of the creation process.

This means there is still room for creativity within the document and variable details can always be adjusted according to the need for it.

Has this yet convinced you that document assembly is something your business must adopt?

If your answer is “no,” well, here are some convincing facts:

Four people joining their fists in the middle of a table

Productivity Gets a Big Boost

According to a survey of companies that still create important documents manually, over 60% of them reported they will make more than two redrafts of documents before they are approved.Think of the amount of time that goes into drafting and redrafting the documents and the number of people involved in this process that automation would perform in a few minutes and you can be sure it will hit the standards right on the first try. Employees would have more time to perform other tasks if document assembly is automated.

The Workforce is Happier

There is a general feeling of relief knowing you do not have to spend a lot of time searching for an old document to edit or knowing that you can access the document you need anytime and anywhere you are because there is a cloud storage access or the web access when using a mobile device.

This means you can meet a potential client in a restaurant and email them detailed documents right there without returning to the office. Just a few clicks and you get to access and share the documents. Life gets better, in fact, research actually shows more workers are better productive out of office than in an office setting.

Document Assembly or Automation Ensures Brand Adherence

Another study shows that for many businesses that produce hundreds of documents everyday, on an average of over 30% of these documents do not comply with brand standards. On the other hand, with assembly or automation software, you can ensure that even if thousands of documents are produced every day, they would all meet the guidelines and standards.

Document assembly tools like Windward Designer are obviously more beneficial for businesses in terms of finances, human efficiency, and overall better performance of the business which every firm would find enticing.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

Written by:_
Genesis Abel

For over 15 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation solution that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. With over 10,000 customers in over 70 countries generating over 10,000,000 pages/day Windward has become the standard for document automation.

© 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

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