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Evolution of Document Generation 3.0


A Look into the Past, Present, and the Future

We live in a smart world — just about everything around us has gone insanely smart. Smart cars are driving themselves, smartphones are like personal assistants to their owners, and smart fridges can tell you the calorie content of everything inside. Well, if there is so much intelligence around us, isn’t it about time our documents became smart as well?

From Caves to Computers

We have come a long way from drawing pictures on the walls of caves (nearly 40,000 - 14,000 years ago). In fact, cave drawings (about 400 worldwide) were probably the first kind of documents humans had before the discovery of other ways to store information like books, which unlike cave walls, can be carried around and reproduced. But even the paper documents are now old fashioned especially with digital documents that are auto-generated with the aid of software like Windward offer the ability to easily edit documents, store, and search information easily and quickly.

Well, as impressive as digital documents may be for our parents, it just isn’t enough in terms of document evolution and now the smart documents are taking over.

The possibilities are insane, and the results inspire admiration.  

This is the next generation of documents and they will keep on getting smarter with capabilities that we may just wish for now, but in a few years, they will be a reality. Here is a look at the next generation of documents.

Available Anywhere

Cloud storage has revolutionized the way documents can be accessed; documents are no longer restricted to the particular device on which they were created. Now, business documents are stored on the cloud and that means as long as you have an internet enabled device, you can access a document that was created and saved a thousand miles away!

This means organizations can have their employees collaborating on the same document even if they are separated by seven oceans and employees can be mobile and yet still have access to office documents on the go.

Uniform Standard and Structure

Thanks to cloud computing, standards of organizations can be maintained. Since the same document can be accessed on the cloud by multiple users, there is no need for someone to start from scratch creating the same document. This means the same document structure used in a company’s New York office will be maintained in Berlin,Beijing, Wellington, Cape Town as well as by a sales representative of the organization on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

This also spells more efficiency in document management and creation. The back offices have less manual work to do when creating documents on auto mode and errors are minimized.

Dynamic Applications

Do you ever find yourself wondering whether to use Excel or a text-based application to represent particular data? Well, smart documents remove that worry—there is now a more automated structure in the creation of documents, so the user does not even have to worry about applications, all this is done in the background and the user will just have to wait for the end product with the document creation software making the choice of application to use intuitively. Surely that is a big load off the user’s shoulder and a lot of valuable time saved.

Automated Content Collection and Management

Content is one of the most important aspects of a document and it should be accurate and well researched. Document generation has automated this process and eliminated human errors from the mix. Thanks to cloud storage and the availability of almost limitless information on the internet,documents can be created using this information.

Lazy researchers who may be unable to exhaust all the available information on a particular subject will no longer provide incomplete information. Smart documents will mine the internet and exhaust all the available resources to find accurate and up to date information on a subject and use it within the document. If, for example, you need a demographic survey of the people of Papua New Guinea, the automated document will search various pages on the internet to find the most recent data on that subject and present it in the final document. With such efficiency, you can be sure of accurate content delivered in the shortest amount of time.

While we are usually cautious of the multitude of misinformation on the internet, smart documents will be able to decipher facts so that only factual data is included in the document.

Smart Recognition and Categorization

Even in our emails, smart documents are at work. There are a lot of people trying to pass the information on to us but not all of it is relevant.Well, we should not have to spend time sorting through our emails to decide what needs our attention. Smart documents can recognize specific content within a document and then categorize the documents according to its relevance to the user, that way the problem of information overload is mitigated.

Documents that Make Decisions

As easy as digital documents may make our lives, they still need our input at times. Smart documents, however, will learn more about the user and begin to automate the entire process of creating the documents as well as the interaction with the document and Windward is a pioneer in this path!

Imagine turning on your computer and the documents sent from a correspondent appear in the format that you are more comfortable with and when you respond to that correspondence, the only input you are involved in is choosing the kind of document and the technology does the rest to put together the response and then send it back.

Human involvement will be cut to a great minimum in the document creation process so that time is saved and accuracy is maintained.

The End Result

Throughout the years, document evolution has caused a revolution in the way we work. There is no doubt that document automation software like Windward is going to bring about important positive changes for any organization. Think of the amount of time that will be saved creating documents that play a pivotal role in an organization.

Document automation will improve adherence to organization standards in the structure and content of documents. Human error will be eliminated and there will be fewer people involved in the process of formulating complex documents which also translates to money being saved.

We can also look forward to a greener environment with less paper being used and needed for drafts and probably reusable paper will also save on the costs.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Know more about Windward and get your 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.

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 © 2021 All Rights Reserved.


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