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HotDocs

A SoftwareSuggest Review

“Though HotDocs is a basic program, it is a good choice for solopreneurs with fewer yet basic document generation needs. It can truly prove to be their time and resource savior. But, if you are an organization producing tons and tons of documents with a multitude of personalization or complexity, HotDocs is definitely not for you.”

If your organization generates complex or customer-specific documents like contracts, reports, loan agreements, or statements of work routinely, you may know very well how painstaking and time-consuming it is. On the one hand, it requires skillful employees, on the other, it demands compliance. Above all, managing document creation without the right tools hampers employee productivity as well as business growth.

So, what can be done? Well, document generation is an inseparable business process, and none can afford to overlook it. But the use of a right tool like Document Automation Software can definitely streamline the complete document generation cycle.

Thankfully, there are a plethora of document generation software providers on the market. So, deploying one would be easy-breezy. But not all document automation software is created equal. Some will require you to code, whereas there are a few that support no-code environment. Many of them offer an intuitive drag-and-drop interface; on the contrary, others might make the document generation process daunting.

Having taken a tour of ample document generation software, I’m sure every software buyer would relate to this! I tried, tested, and reviewed tons of document automation software until I crossed paths with HotDocs!

Designed to handle documents of any length and complexity, HotDocs enables you to convert frequently used forms and documents into ready-to-use templates. With end-to-end document control, it allows the document authors to populate data fields, apply rules, and control the data entered within the template. Right from preventing your documents from legal issues to ensuring that the documents adhere to your business rules, HotDocs mitigates compliance hassles. Above all, the feature that genuinely enticed me to explore is its ability to integrate with different business applications, be it your CRM, CMS, or other risk management software.

An Overview of HotDocs DocAuto Solution

Creating Templates

As you install HotDocs and navigate to a Word document, you'll see HotDocs in the Word Ribbon. I’m quite familiar with document automation software that offers such an interface as I’ve leveraged one before. Coming back to HotDocs, it required me to click on ‘Create Template’ to access all the controls required to merge different variables and business logic to build an interactive template.

However, I appreciate its simple select-and-quick approach that lets you identify the data in each document that would change with every transaction or document creation and assign it a variable field. Some examples of variable fields include names, dates, pronouns, numbers, calculations, conditional texts, and more. HotDocs enables you to add as many variable fields you want across the document. This is what I loved the most – creating a single template can help produce thousands of documents in just a fraction of time. Though it’s the core function of every document automation software, HotDocs makes it easier and simpler.

Conditional Text

There are times when you need to create documents with certain conditions. This demands your document generation software to provide a conditional text facility. This includes, if..end if, else..if, and similar options. In comparison with other DocGen products I reviewed, HotDocs offers quite a basic conditional formatting, which can be a major drawback while creating complex documents.

Generating Documents

Once the templates are designed, document generation is a breeze. All you require to do is fill in the answers for the variable fields. This can be done manually, obtained from previously filled answers, or connected to a data source to pull the information from another system or location.

Depending on the template you select and the variable fields it has, you require filling in the answer one after the other. Every time you need to click the variable name and then its answer box. You can fill only one answer at a time. Initially, it seems very convenient, but when you encounter a template with 'n' variable fields, this clicking job is a pain, I must say.

Besides, it lets you preview how the document is created across the document generation process.

HotDocs At A Glance

  • Data Sources: One benefit of HotDocs that I must appreciate is its ability to fetch data from multiple data sources, be it CRM, Access Database Excel, or any other kind. Although it cannot mix data from multiple sources like a few of its competitors, I can manage even with this!
  • Output Formats: It lets you generate a basic Word or PDF document, which is comparatively limited to the options that other document automation software supports.
  • Document Output: You can print, email, revise, and put the document in a workflow or a document management system. This appeared as a major drawback for me as it lacked the option to send it for eSignature or approval.

Final Thoughts

With a lot of website review and surfing for information about their product offerings on their YouTube channel, this is all I could learn about HotDocs’ Document Automation software. Moreover, I was completely unable to schedule a demo with their team.

However, to the extent that I could know about HotDocs is that it is quite a basic Document Automation software with little to no support (to delve deeper into the product) from the team. While it enables you to create templates without any technical knowledge and further hassles, it has no scope for complex customizing a document as per your business needs.

Though HotDocs is a basic program, it is a good choice for solopreneurs with fewer yet basic document generation needs. It can truly prove to be their time and resource savior. But, if you are an organization producing tons and tons of documents with a multitude of personalization or complexity, HotDocs is definitely not for you.

Features

Windward

Code Behind
No code behind
Generate Code
Yes
Applications
Only supports Word, Excel & PowerPoint for Windows. It neither supports PDF nor any Web-based applications.
Conditional Formatting
Yes
Drag & Drop Doclets
Yes
Query Wizards
It easily fetches data from multiple sources.
Multiple Datasources
Yes
Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Tag Start & End Locations
Yes
Tags

out

import

bitmap

set

query

forEach

if

else

switch

link

bookmark

chart

Imported Templates
Advanced
Document Locking
Yes
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
Yes
Data Count
Yes
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Easily integrates with your existing applications
  • Pro: Great for beginners and people with no computer tech experience
  • Con: Only works with MS Office
  • Con: Lacks feature like Digital Signature
Pricing
Visit Windward's pricing page for a detailed price list.

Features

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Output Formats
Everything including direct output to printer
IF Statements
Advanced
Code Behind
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
Advanced
Imported Templates
Advanced
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Once the datasources are set, it is easy to use
  • Pro: Integrates with a range of business systems and applications
  • Pro: Supports 10+ languages
  • Pro: Prominent clients include Sunkist, Volvo, HSBC, Pfizer, and more
  • Con: Doesn't work with web applications
  • Con: You find it difficult to pick tags if you mixed them with a block of text

Features

Windward

Code Behind
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
It supports drag and drop throughout the platform
Multiple Datasources
It easily fetches data from multiple sources
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
You can easily detect errors and warnings
Time Zone
There's no such functionality available
Document Status
There are no predefined modes, wherein you can put your documents. But you can preview them before finalizing
Conditional Statements
It supports 'if' and 'else' tags along with 12+ other tags
Output Formats
You can have the output in every format you desire
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: With easy datasource set-up, it makes document creation a breeze
  • Pro: It is great for beginners and people with no computer tech experience
  • Con: It integrates only with MS Office
  • Con: Sometimes, you may face a few minor glitches, but the team is quick to handle it

Features

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Code Behind
No code behind
Process Embedded Office Objects
It has all types of embedded objects and also processes the same seamlessly
Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Tags

out

import

bitmap

set

query

forEach

if

else

switch

link

bookmark

chart

Features

Windward

Multiple Datasources
It can also process multiple datasources simultaneously
Macros
You can create custom macros as and when required in your template
Rendering Barcodes
Windward renders barcodes as fonts, which may not be as effective as images
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
It takes care of each aspect to ensure you get the document as desired
Output Formats
You can have the output in every format you desire
Drag & Drop Doclets
Supports pretty well
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: Easily imports tags from connected datasources
  • Pro: Easy to use within established Microsoft Office Desktop applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Con: You might encounter problems with reports
  • Con: APIs need improvement