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7 Practical Reasons Why Flexibility Matters for Document Generation Software

Industry

Document automation is quickly becoming a norm within different organizations globally. As businesses get used to this software, flexibility turns out to be a key factor.

However, some may wonder why it is important or even if it is safe to have a flexible and dynamic document generation tool, given the fact that automating documents is supposed to increase adherence to organization branding and document structure.

We will answer those questions here as we expound on the importance of flexibility for document generation software.

Defining Flexibility

Flexibility in automation software may take on different forms. The flexibility could be in the way that you can make use of software to create an extensive range of documents using a single template.  At the same time, the flexibility could be the software’s ability to make your document creation tasks easier and go past location and time zones, or even integrate with an extensive range of data sources.  So, you need to know what kind of flexibility you are looking for in document generation software.

Now, let us take a look at a few features and the practical benefits of a flexible document generation software:

Flexibility Enables Personalization of Documents

Even though you need to adhere to strict guidelines of your organization, today’s world emphasizes the need for personalization when interacting with clients. A client may prefer fonts to be of a particular size (to make the report more readable) or they may prefer documents sent in a certain file format, such as PDF.

Document generation software needs to accommodate such preferences in order for an organization to impress its clients and stakeholders. It is therefore important that users of the software have the freedom to make particular changes to a document despite standard template settings.

Today’s World is Fast Paced and People Need to Work on the Go

Many organizations encourage employees to do their work from wherever they may be.  That means whether they are in the office using a desktop, at home with a laptop, or lying on the beach and working on a mobile phone, an employee’s work should be able to follow them and they should be able to access different essential documents. The document generation software, therefore, needs to be flexible in terms of devices. A user should be able to access and edit the document on whatever device they are using without altering the appearance or standard settings of the final document.

Flexibility Promotes Creating an Extensive Range of Documents with Just a Handful of Templates

Every business would be happy to spend less to produce more. That’s a possibility with a flexible document generation solution like Windward.  In an organization where a lot of documents are generated every day, (for example, in law firms and insurance companies) there is a need for flexibility in the production of different documents.

It helps if the same software can be used to generate the different types of documents (legal notices, contract agreements, and accounting reports) using just one or two templates. Not only does the organization benefit from having a paperless document creation system, but it also can save money since the same software will provide all the documents needed. The resources needed to create different documents will be less, and in the end, the reward is big.

Enables Collaboration Through Integration with Other Software

In today’s business world, companies are going global, meaning there is much more need for collaboration between organizations, individuals, and even branches of the same organization in very different locations.  The software used in the different locations may not be the same, and yet there is a need for seamless sharing along with the generation of documents.  Quite often there will be different applications involved and the generation software needs to be integrated with these applications.  Flexibility will enable a smooth process of sharing, editing, and outputting documents by integrating with different pieces of software.  For example, someone using Salesforce must be able to create and share documents using the data available on that platform with the help of a dynamic document generation tool.

Less Time Spent Learning How to Use the New Software

Because of the flexible integration of the document creation software, there is less learning curve due to the familiar environment the user is already acquainted with. Flexible software like Windward will work with the already existing platform on any device, which means if you are used to using Microsoft Word to create documents, you can continue using it despite the introduction of the new document generation software—no need to learn an entirely new system.  Furthermore, if a company does not need entirely new software for their document generation solution to work, then they don’t need to spend extra on entirely new software.  More on this aspect below.

Makes Integration Cheaper

For a business that has to integrate the document creation software into its current system, flexible software will be cheaper since there will be less money spent on the installation of other software to enable it to run. Most of the existing software would still be used and maybe some may need to be upgraded to support certain features. The installation process would then cost less and hopefully less time to get it up and running.

Enables Delegation of Tasks and Authority

With a flexible document automation software, tasks and authority can be transferred to other people than the development team. For example, the task of approving a new template does not have to be done by a single person, so if a manager is on leave, it is possible to delegate access to the document so that another person can access it from their own device and make necessary changes to a document that needs to be created. This way, the processes involved in creating a document are not held up by the absence of just one individual.

Flexibility is a desired quality in today’s work environment and for the people within an organization to be successful with minimal effort, they need to have tools that enable it. With document generation becoming a necessary process in most organizations, it is important that the software is flexible as discussed above to empower the staff to create documents quickly and accurately.

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

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 process the template handling each tag in order, and each tags can pull from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select in a tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one datasource, 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. Additional details ...

Genesis Abel

This blog was written by:_
Genesis Abel

For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

© 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

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