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Documenting Windward Series — Interview with Sales Engineer, Kelly Gillespie

Download the PDFComputer with documents floating around

Firstly, can you please introduce yourself and how did you end up working at Windward?

I am a TAMU graduate with 30 plus years of IT and Sales experience. I have lived in several states growing up but found myself in Denver in 2000 to be close to the rest of my immediate family. Denver is where I met my wife and we have 3 adult children, all employed and working on their respective degrees. We love Colorado weather; we can go outside and enjoy nature rather than having to hide from it. Beautiful state with lots of places to visit and things to do together.

Can you sum up your job role at Windward?

I spend my days with IT and business leaders building better applications using Windward. Our product is simply amazing, I find new and creative ways to employ this document generation technology every day. Quickly conveying all the capabilities that Windward offers is my greatest challenge, so I start every conversation by trying to understand the end goal. What are the limitations of my prospects current tools and why have they searched for alternatives? Once I understand what they are trying to accomplish then I can recommend what I think to be the best approach using our document generation solutions.

What are some challenges you face in your role?

Most people look at our solution in the context of other solutions they already know. Windward’s approach is completely different and does not have many of the limitations that their previous solutions might have. As they describe their workflow and when their documents need to be generated, I discover many unnecessary steps that can be skipped or ignored when using Windward.

You can download, install, and configure our products in under an hour and I stand behind that statement by being available via screenshare calls to do just that.

Our customers share with us that they have cut their template dev time down to a 10th of what is used to be and far less annoying because Windward does not have layout limitations.  Many feel that their ability to implement new templates quickly has given them a competitive advantage over their competition and has been a key feature differentiator in winning new business.

In your opinion, what does it take to be a good pre or post sales engineer?

Be a part of the project team that selected you as their vendor. I start getting familiar with those team members from our very first call together, learning who will be doing the dev work for the integration who is the data model expert that can assist in finding the data their documents require as well as working with the business users who will be authoring their templates. When any of them have issues I quickly step in and help them over any hurdles they may encounter. I get my best ideas from working with customers on real world implementations. These experiences have made me better understand what we can achieve, and I enjoy the work.

What do you like most about your job and how's the work-culture at Windward?

The people at Windward are the best. Everyone is truly sincere and genuine which in many companies today is hard to find. You do not see people sticking with companies for multiple years as you did in the past but with Windward, I hope to finish my career here and have no plans of ever leaving.

Is there anything else about working for Windward specifically that you enjoy?

The product. When you have an amazing product that actually delivers on its claims and features it is not difficult to sell. I feel our product is the easiest to implement and maintain because it is. What Windward offers is the ability to merge dynamic data from anywhere with templates you author in Office and return well formatted documents every time. Plus, we can be integrated with any system, any application can call or trigger a Windward generation either on demand or event based. It is very cool to work on so many different applications and use cases, some are truly fascinating.

Customers will ask if Windward’s document generation software can do a specific thing and often I simply give it a try and I am pleasantly surprised that “Yes We Can!” is the answer.

Often, I just build a sample template that proves our capabilities and just send it to them plus it allows me to show off how quick and easy our solution is by having a project’s required documents finished a day or two after first speaking with us.

Are you reading or watching anything currently that you'd recommend?

I read sales blogs and sales literature often but nothing recently that I can say is new or interesting.

Lately, I have been watching old and established programs like 60 minutes and Nova. They are well produced and go into the kind of detail I enjoy when covering a story or topic.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

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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