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A Complete Guide to Document Creation Software

Industry

What is document creation software?

Document creation software lets you design and organize templates in popular applications like Microsoft Word and Excel to automate the arrangement of data in the documents according to your preferred standards. This process is also referred to as document automation or document generation and it often incorporates the use of queries to populate the template with relevant data that is sourced from various databases.

Many businesses have adopted document creation software as a standard practice for dealing with documents that are key in the daily operation of a business, for example, invoices, marketing reports, customer account statements, and so much more.

Document Creation Is a Key Business Function

Automating documents is part of improving the efficiency of a business. Efficiency is an important practice today as it ensures the growth and survival of a business. By introducing a document creator, a business will save time, save money, and cut out human error.

A deeper look at the benefits of automation of documents can provide insight into why it is a key business function. Here are seven of them:

1) Less Time Spent on Repeatable Tasks

Tasks like preparing proposals, quotations, and business contracts take up a lot of time and can be very tedious when carried out by the same individual. With the process automated, however, what would take hours to produce and then reproduce can be done in just a few seconds. Think of how many customers a business can serve if it cuts down on the time spent on these tasks. According to research, almost 50% of employees spend time duplicating paperwork.

2) Eliminates Back and Forth Movement of Documents for Approval

With manual processes, a lot of time is spent going back and forth to get documents approved and to verify data. A person spends a lot of time just to get a single invoice approved. That is in no way efficient. When you automate this process, however, all that back and forth is cut out, a document is created and sent in a matter of minutes and the employees can focus on doing work that really demands their attention.

3) Adherence to Strict Branding Guidelines

Whether you have a small team in one office or thousands of employees across the globe, you can ensure that your brand is well represented at all times. The business logo, colors, and style will remain the same regardless of who is working on a document. Templates are uniform and preapproved so there is no risk of employees departing from the brand whenever they send out documents.

4) Reduced Resource Tied up in Document Tasks

Manual document processes take up a lot of resources. Human resource is needed at various stages of producing a single document and resource like papers are needed for drafting. When document creation is introduced to the process, a lot of the resource is freed up and can be utilized in other productive areas of the business. This will also save money.

5) Less Time Spent Training New Employees

A business can significantly cut down orientation time by automating key documents. Many businesses spend too much time teaching new employees how to structure documents as well as key procedures involved in getting approvals. This can be avoided if all they have to do is learn how to use a single software that will handle the creation of the different documents they will be working with. A business will run more efficiently and spend less money training new employees.

6) Significantly Reduce Human Error

Employees both new and old are likely to make errors and some of these can be costly. By reducing the amount of involvement humans have in the creation of documents, errors will also reduce or even be eliminated. Errors can cost a business a lot of money as well as the reputation of the business.  The software can perform the same task over and over again without getting too tired to notice errors. There is also no risk of a “bad day” affecting the performance of the software.

7) Improves Data Safety

Sensitive data is well protected in a database where access is granted only to authorized individuals and every time such information is accessed, it will be recorded. This ensures that a business can guarantee heightened security for customer information. This protection of sensitive data is more secure than any filing system. It also ensures that documents do not get lost easily.

Document Creation Process

The document creation process can be made simple if you have the right document automation software, a template, and a datasource.

The document automation software serves as the brain behind every document that is created. It is programmed to manage the process on command. The template serves as the blueprint for whatever document you would need to create and the data source provides the information that is entered into the template to create a document.

The document creation process may initially be a long process that requires intricate attention to detail to ensure that the templates that are created for particular documents are free from error and represent the approved structure for business documents. A quick summary of the template design process involves the following:

Once the above tasks have been completed, employees will be able to use the templates to create documents. The procedure for document creation may vary slightly depending on the software you use. The general principle though is that a user can choose the type of document they want to create, choose a template that will come with predefined sections, and by answering some queries the user will populate the fields with variable data. This process can take less than a minute, depending on the document being created.

Creating and Editing Documents in MS Word

The best document creation software can integrate with familiar computer programs like MS Word which has 1.2 billion users. This makes it much simpler to use them to automate your documents. Word makes it extremely easy to create letters, purchase orders, invoices, presentations, marketing proposals, contracts, surveys, and many, many more types of documents.

To create a document, you will need to begin by going to custom fields. This will enable you to create a document with areas that can be customized according to your needs. Customized areas of the document are those that may change. For example, if you are sending an invoice to a client, the custom fields would be the name and address of the client, the date, and the figures corresponding to the invoice.

In MS Word, all you have to do is select the kind of document you want to create and then add custom fields in the template. For the areas that will not change like the business logo, address, title, and the rest, you will import those into the document and every time you select the invoice, those will already be there so that you do not have to start editing from scratch.

When you are done editing, save the new document, and then you can send it to the recipient.

Document Formatting

Document formatting is an essential consideration when creating documents. A business usually has its preferred format for documents and it is important that it doesn’t have to discard it when it takes on automation software.

If the business uses one of the MS Word formats, then this is an advantage because most software will integrate with Word or they have a similar format that is commonly used. When choosing software, verify if it will allow you to maintain your preferred format.

You might have a problem though if your documents are in PDF. This is usually hard to integrate when automating documents. You may have to change that to a word format. You might have seen what happens when you attempt to copy text from a PDF and paste it elsewhere, the same distortion is likely to happen if you try to automate PDF templates.

Document Creation Software

Automation of documents is made possible by the software. The software is specially programmed to make it easy to create and edit different types of documents that are usually used in businesses. This software works with the help of templates that make up the structure of a document.

Templates have fields that can be edited and those that are predetermined. The predetermined fields are what make most of your work easier. For example, if you are creating a contract, the articles of the contract that are usually standard will already be entered so that you simply need to add variable details like the names of the parties signing the contract and figures where necessary.

Document creation software makes it possible to merge text-based formats with a data source to create a document. There are some features that a good document creation services tool needs to have. These include:

Ease of Personalization: Every business may have unique needs and the document software they choose should be able to meet those needs. A wide variety of documents that can be created is necessary.

Translation Ability: Some businesses are multinational and that means documents need to be translated accurately into the languages used in the different countries of operation. A spell and grammar check in those languages is also required.

Integration: There should be no need to learn how to use an entirely new office suite. The software should integrate easily with existing applications like MS Word and Excel so that users are comfortable using the interface.

Easy Access: Businesses today are mobile and the need for a particular document may arise at any time or location. The software should be accessible anywhere as long as a person has an internet connection.

Safety: Even though users should have access to the software remotely, the data should be well protected with access only granted to authorized personnel.

Centralized Management: To ensure that standards are kept, management of data needs to be done from a central location, this ensures that whatever data is used or graphics, they are the same at all times and if they are changed, it is done for all documents.

Ease of Use: This software is supposed to make processes easier so it should likewise be easy to use. The staff of a business should not have to undergo extensive training to be able to use the software and useful tools should be easy to find.

Available Customer Support: In case a user runs into a problem as they use the software, they should have a quick solution from customer support. This could be in the form of a helpful guide or actual support from a human being.

Scalable: The software has to be scalable. As the business grows, the software should be able to handle the new demands that will come with it.

While all the above features contribute to a reliable document creation software, the software must be able to meet the needs of the user. For example, if the business would like to reduce the time recruits spend on orientation, it is necessary for the software to be easy to use so that in a few days or even better in hours, the new person can comfortably use the software.

There should also be the opportunity to upgrade the software as well as integrate new technology that will make processes even easier.

Document Creation Online

This option is great as an introduction to document automation. The transition from a manual system to automation is easier since it happens without major disruptions to the regular order of business.

Many who are on the go, would appreciate the online creation of documents since they do not have to be in the office to access particular documents. You can find templates already designed and you just edit them to suit your business branding standard.

With online document automation, you can connect the software to your applications where you can access updated data to populate the template. This will ensure that the data used in the document is real-time and approved.

The benefits of using document automation online include:

In Conclusion

Document creation software is the answer to a tedious yet necessary process of any business: creating documents. Almost every business needs to have different types of documents created daily but this task is very time-consuming.  It is a relief that a business can leave this function to an automated system and simply command the system to produce a particular document. Like most processes that are automated, this process eliminates human error which can be costly. A business that wishes to improve efficiency in its service to its clients should consider automating the document creation process.

Learn more about the leading document generation and document automation solutions on our new review pages.

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

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Genesis Abel

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