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Why Document Automation Is the Next Big Thing For Your Business and How To Get On Board

Download the PDFPerson typing on a laptop for automating documents

We humans are a creative bunch. Ever since the dawn of time, we’ve been creating and tweaking our tools to make them work just a bit better. We can’t help it—we’re innovators. All the way back to when the first caveman showed his friend a cool, new way to start a fire faster. We like to improve things and it seems to be hard-wired into our DNA.

Ideas for technological innovations and labor-saving devices have been bubbling up since... forever. That’s nothing new. What is new is the speed at which the changes are coming. And nowhere is this speed of change more relevant and unrelenting than in the world of business.

See the newest innovation from Windward Studios, Windward Hub.

The Timeline of Business Innovation

It took us about 5,000 years to go from hieroglyphics to the printing press. It took another 400 years to get to the manual typewriter. But from there, the speed of transformation really begins to hit warp speed. It took 50 years to go from manual typewriters to electric typewriters. Then just 40 years to jump from typewriters to word processors. From there, it was a quick two decades to email. And what an enormous shift that was in the way people communicated! Do you remember the thrill of hearing “You’ve got mail!” when you first signed on to AOL?

The Shift that Gave Us All New Eyes

Suddenly, we were all computer users. And we began to see things through different eyes. The type-written forms we had always used now seemed quaint and old-fashioned. Did the forms change? No, our expectations and standards did. In much the same way that a shift happened and one day our cell phones magically became wallets, cameras, sleep trackers, and flashlights.

Our Rising Standards and Expectations

Think of all the innovations in the modern office we can’t imagine working without—a copy machine, a fax machine, email, Microsoft Word, Excel, Google Docs, WebEx, the Internet, a Keurig, (of course). All these innovations radically transformed the way information flowed through a corporation. And now, we are at the cusp of yet another milestone moment.

It’s All About The Data

In the late 1980s, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was developed to help businesses better manage customer relationships, and all the data involved with them.

CRMs could store a ton of data, and companies soon understood how powerful that info could be if used correctly. The next powerful innovation was the ability to auto-populate with data from your CRM and other data sources simultaneously. Modern CRM platforms like HubSpot and Salesforce allowed businesses to manage their sales pipeline, log sales activity, and store contact data all in one place.

DocAuto: The Next Area of Evolution

It wasn’t that long ago that our business forms were handwritten or pre-printed and filled in with a pen or a typewriter. Remember using actual carbon paper to make copies? Ink all over our hands from handling slimy black carbons? Positively stone age!

Next, the process evolved to where business people could copy and paste from a master template and create a fantastically boring, generic-looking document. Now we’ve graduated to empowering businesses to design their own personalized templates.

Sounds good, right? Well, yes and no. This ability led to salespeople often having to create customized documents such as contracts, quotes, and proposals. Often this might mean opening a file, editing it, and then exporting it as a PDF.

Creating these documents was slow, painstaking work. Usually, you needed a professional with specialized skills to make any changes, and the process was ripe with possibilities for introducing accidental changes to important data.

In the 2000s, tech companies like Windward Studios revolutionized the way companies handled their documents and reporting by introducing document automation software. For the first time in history, document automation became available to everyone, allowing organizations to focus on the really important stuff: customers, career, and business success.

Doc Automation + HubSpot

Fast forward to today. Now the name of the game is getting the most from your CRM with document automation software. In 2020, Windward Studios created Windward Hub, a document solution that integrates with the tools that businesses already use, like HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, other CRMs, and ERPs. Hub allows you to incorporate multiple data sources, close deals faster with automation, and eliminate mistakes with a centralized view.

Hub allows you to create and send your sales documents from within HubSpot in one click — allowing you to generate contracts, proposals, quotes, and more in minutes. Using Windward Hub with HubSpot, for example, means no data synchronization issues. Since the data is in a native application there is a free flow of data from HubSpot to Hub.

Hub also allows you to incorporate multiple data sources, close deals faster with automation, and eliminate mistakes with a centralized view. You can generate stunning documents that incorporate relevant data easily and seamlessly, without any coding or programming experience. Hub also offers conditional Agile logic functionality, so you can swiftly personalize the document content to gratify end users.

Get With The Times

Not only is innovation a human trait, so is resistance to innovation. But don’t drag your feet and fall behind! Today’s businesses need to retire the old ways of doing things and embrace the future and see the possibilities with your new eyes. Windward Hub helps you keep pace with the speed of business innovation.  

Know more about Windward by watching these videos.

Sign up for a free trial of Windward Hub and see for yourself!

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.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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"

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Rename a Datasource

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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).

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tags are Color Coded

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Advanced Image Properties

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Version 13 New Data Sources

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

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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.

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