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Document Template Management -- The Complete Guide

People sitting around a table talking

Why care about document template management when your PC probably has numerous documents you have created before and you can use them to create new ones? For example, you can access a letter you sent to a client and simply replace the main text with relevant text for the recipient you are sending to. After a quick proofread, your letter is ready to be sent. Does that in some way describe your document creation process?

Well, that may seem like a neat approach until you realize you forgot to change the date on that letter or you forgot that the company logo was tweaked a few days ago but you sent out the old version. This is a common occurrence in many organizations and it affects their brand.

Consistency is essential for branding but too often it fails because individuals ignore the importance of sticking to templates. This is why you should care about the document management system.

What is Document Template Management?

It is about the creation, storage, and use of templates. An organization can have standard templates designed for the different documents they use often and these templates are stored in a central location where everyone has access to them. Access however is governed by set guidelines that limit the way the templates can be used. While everyone can access and use the templates, not everyone can create or alter the templates.

You can use online or PC based tools to create complex templates. Once the design is complete, define what components of the template can be modified by users on a document by document basis. Template management is a dynamic process of easing the way documents are created and ensuring they meet best practices for enterprise document management.

Why Manage Templates?

The word “management” gives the feeling that there is restriction involved. Well, that is not so far from it. Document management software adds restrictions. This is important, because in some cases, an individual may choose to mess with the templates. Think of the impact that could have on branding templates. If someone tweaked the logo simply because they don’t like the color, that would affect the brand of a business.

Restricting who can alter templates to a few authorized individuals will ensure consistency and avoid haphazard edits. Everyone has to comply with the set standard for documents and you can be assured of authentic documents.

Also, templates are the foundation for all document automation solutions. A template will determine what the final document will look like and the kind of content added to it. Several factors need to be considered when structuring particular documents but a single individual with a lot on their mind cannot be trusted to always go through the different items on a checklist, for example, they may forget to create an email signature for important business emails. Managing templates will ensure all the factors that need to be considered are embedded within the guidelines for access and use of the template.

Besides, there are other advantages to managing template documents. Most organizations are enjoying the following benefits:

Quality Documents: The quality of documents contributes to the image of your business. You can guarantee the quality if you have a set standard that is applied to all the documents from your organization. Not everyone can produce standard quality, so let the best design the templates that the rest will use.

Ease of Access: Document management ensures that there is a central place where all the templates can be found. When access is simple, there is a higher compliance rate. With a management system, you can ensure users do not spend time scrolling through lots of unrelated files before they find what they are looking for.

Better Productivity: Less time is spent creating documents since they do not have to start from scratch. Templates have a fair percentage of the content already entered and it is easier to complete the rest of the document. What’s more, you can use familiar programs like Word to create a document using the template provided.

Document Authenticity: When dealing with sensitive documents like contracts, you can ensure the authenticity of the documents with templates for contracts that are unique to your organization. Managing content as well as access can safeguard the authenticity of the documents even without the need to manually peruse every document that is generated by your organization.

What is Involved in Template Management?

Template Content Control

Even with the use of templates, you may still encounter cases of inconsistent content and error data. This is where template content control is helpful. Within the template, you can restrict the content to particular options. Some templates may have a dropdown menu that provides options for content to be included in a document. You can implement enterprise content management by adding text guides that let a user know what should be included in a particular area of a document. Once the user begins to type the content, the instructions will disappear.

Template Repository

Ensure document control by having a single version of content like logos, disclaimers, and other branding images. With a centralized repository, you prevent employees from creating templates from scratch since they know they can find what they want easily and it will save time. Even when they have to create a unique document, they can find content like logos in the repository so that they do not keep on using their own versions in the documents they create.

Access Control Management

Some templates for business contracts may need access control because they have legal implications, so only particular individuals should have access to them. The access control can be limited to altering templates while allowing use for everyone or complete access restriction.

Template Integration

Templates can be designed to integrate with other enterprise document management systems. This will ensure that an organization easily adopts a template designed in one program for use in another. For example, if you’re using templates for Microsoft office, but you are working in a CRM system, you can still use the same templates within the CRM to design documents like client’s receipts, contracts, and so on.

Document Authentication

Organizations need to ensure the authenticity of their documents. This can be achieved through the use of standard templates. For example, legal document templates can be designed with features that will prove the document is authored by the organization and you can add a digital signature to the final document. Managing templates helps to avoid cases where duplicate documents are authored by unauthorized individuals trying to pass them off as genuine.

Template Management for Multinational Companies

Document management tools offer a solution to that challenge. Having a common template is a quick solution since employees simply access the template and begin working with it. Cloud-storage makes it possible for all the offices in different countries to access the same templates. This also saves money because a template is designed once and then the document control system will grant access to it from anywhere in the world.

With the right software, the language will not be a problem as text can be automatically translated to suit the preference of a user or the recipient of a document. A template may be designed in English but using business document software adapted for multinational enterprises, the descriptions and guidelines on the document will be translated to other languages.

Choosing the Right Business Document Software

Once you appreciate the value of template management, you need to consider which option would be the best for your organization. Integration with the applications your organization uses will be a big consideration. Unless you are using obsolete applications, there should be no reason to have to change what you’re using. The right business document software would easily integrate with common office applications like Microsoft Word and so on.

You also need to think of what document storage options you will have. Is your current storage system adequate or will you need more storage? The software should enable you to use cloud storage without the risk of creating vulnerability to your digital documents.

All document management solutions will not offer the same kind of efficiency, so it is advisable to do extensive research. Expert reviews can give you insight into the performance of the software. Also, reach customer support to find out more about the software and, if available, opt for a free trial before you buy it.

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
Windward © 2020 All Rights Reserved.

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