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Windward vs. Formstack: Which Document Automation Provider has it all?

If you're working with a considerable volume of documents regularly, it's helpful to familiarize yourself with the document automation (DocAuto) tools available. While they help to create and manage countless documents in a snap, choosing from a plethora of DocAuto tools and its varying list of vendors might be overwhelming.

However, Windward and Formstack (formerly WebMerge) are two of the most popular document automation solution providers that you might like to consider while making the decision. Right from creating powerful documents to streamlining your document generation process, both of these DocGen solutions make document generation hassle-free and painless.

Here’s an overview of Windward and Formstack along with a brief comparison of their features, functionalities, and pros & cons to help you make the right decision.

Windward vs. Formstack: Which is better?

1. Building Templates

The first step to creating documents with any DocAuto tools is building templates. You can then use these templates in generating documents of similar types or produce a new document with just a minor alteration in the existing template.

With Formstack’s document builder, you need to first enter merge fields to fetch the data you want. Also, it requires you to follow a specific format. However, Formstack also lets you place the data directly on the document using merge fields, but unfortunately, it does not say how you can assign the data to merge fields; thus, making the process quite complicated.

On the contrary, Windward fetches data from the required sources seamlessly. All you need to do is connect it with the specific datasource, be it Salesforce or any business applications you use.

2. Document Delivery

Formstack is power-packed with a pool of document delivery options. That is, you can send your documents directly to the desired recipients right from Formstack. Different options that it offers include CRM, Doc Storage, eSignature, email, and more. You can also create multiple deliveries of a single document with Formstack.

Windward Core and Windward Hub enable users to deliver your document via your application, email it, or even output it directly to the printer.

3. Data Sources

On the one hand, where Windward supports multiple datasources, on the other, Formstack lets you pull data from various sources with its 'Merge' functionality. But again, Formstack has no explicit mention of what merge is and how it functions. Though it seems that Formstack has essential features to make document generation easier, it has not enough documentation for users to leverage the benefits.

4. Custom Online Forms

You can create online forms with Formstack in just a few minutes, without the help of your developers. Yes, Formstack has made this possible. It has an easy website form builder with advanced features that help you create a custom form within a few clicks. Right from collecting payments to gathering data, it automates your routine tasks and lets you focus on other crucial activities.

On the contrary, you don't get any such privileged functionality from Windward, but yes, you can still create forms like other documents with no hassles.

Windward & Formstack At A Glance

Features

Formstack

Windward

Code Behind
It requires you to map fields
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
You don't have access to any such functionality
Yes
Query Wizards
It easily fetches data from multiple sources.
Multiple Datasources
Merging data from multiple sources is cumbersome
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
If something goes wrong, finding the error is tough
Yes
Data Count
Yes
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: It consumes PDF applications and prefills them from your database or form
  • Pro: It integrates with a myriad of business applications, including integration partners of eSignature and Forms
  • Con: A novice may find it difficult to get through its designer
  • Con: While working with complex documents, the jargon it uses isn't easy to understand
  • 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

Formstack

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Supported Datasources

Salesforce

MS Dynamics

JSON

OData

SQL

XML

Output Formats

CSV, DOCX, HTML, PDF, PPTX, RTF, and XLSX

Everything including direct output to printer
IF Statements
Advanced
Code Behind
It requires you to map fields
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
You don't have access to any such functionality
Advanced
Imported Templates
Advanced
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: It consumes PDF applications and prefills them from your database or form
  • Pro: It integrates with a myriad of business applications, including integration partners of eSignature and Forms
  • Con: A novice may find it difficult to get through its designer
  • Con: While working with complex documents, the jargon it uses isn't easy to understand
  • 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

Formstack

Windward

Code Behind
It requires you to map fields
No code behind
Drag & Drop Doclets
You don't have access to any such functionality
It supports drag and drop throughout the platform
Multiple Datasources
Merging data from multiple sources is cumbersome
It easily fetches data from multiple sources
Validation, Error & Warning Handling
If something goes wrong, finding the error is tough
You can easily detect errors and warnings
Time Zone
It lets you select a time zone while uploading any document; thus, making document generation including timestamp data easier
There's no such functionality available
Document Status
You can define the status of your document as - Active, Test Mode, and Inactive
There are no predefined modes, wherein you can put your documents. But you can preview them before finalizing
Conditional Statements
It supports only 'if' tag
It supports 'if' and 'else' tags along with 12+ other tags
Output Formats

CSV, DOCX, HTML, PDF, PPTX, RTF, and XLSX

You can have the output in every format you desire
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: It consumes PDF applications and prefills them from your database or form
  • Pro: It integrates with a myriad of business applications, including integration partners of eSignature and Forms
  • Con: A novice may find it difficult to get through its designer
  • Con: While working with complex documents, the jargon it uses isn't easy to understand
  • 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

Formstack

Windward

Applications

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Code Behind
It requires you to map fields
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

Formstack

Windward

Multiple Datasources
Merging data from multiple sources is cumbersome
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
If something goes wrong, finding the error is tough
It takes care of each aspect to ensure you get the document as desired
Output Formats

CSV, DOCX, HTML, PDF, PPTX, RTF, and XLSX

You can have the output in every format you desire
Drag & Drop Doclets
You don't have access to any such functionality
Supports pretty well
Pros & Cons
  • Pro: It consumes PDF applications and prefills them from your database or form
  • Pro: It integrates with a myriad of business applications, including integration partners of eSignature and Forms
  • Con: A novice may find it difficult to get through its designer
  • Con: While working with complex documents, the jargon it uses isn't easy to understand
  • 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

Final Thoughts

If you are a newbie to document generation, Formstack is created right for you. Whether you talk about its friendly user interface or explanatory features, it guides you through every step of your document creation. While time zone and document status are its unique functionalities, it masters the art of form building.

When it comes to Windward, it has all the advanced features that one might desire to have in a DocAuto tool, but if your needs are limited, it might turn out to be costly. On the other hand, it is ultimately a "no-code" platform, i.e., whether you are a tech expert or lack technical knowledge, Windward works equally for you—it neither requires you to code nor write any queries. All you have to do is drag and drop data fields, and Windward will generate code on its own.

While both come with its perks and drawbacks, it solely depends on your requirements to pick the best-suited one.