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Comparison of HotDocs & Windward Studios

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If you need to create interview forms, and then from the interview answers populate a template – get HotDocs. They are superb at this. But that’s where they start and end. They are documents only (no Excel or PowerPoint). In terms of the power they have for conditional layout (smart documents), data queries, etc., hotdocs has the basics. They do the basics well, but if you need anything more you’re out of luck.

--Dave T.

Comparisons & Features of Two Top Document Generation Tools

At first blush, Windward and HotDocs appear similar enough that they might seem close competitors. Both solutions are self-described as ‘document generation.’ Both solutions allow developers to design templates in Microsoft® Word that are then used to generate documents. Both solutions offer user oriented designers.

Yet despite these parallels, the two products are substantially different in their targeted use cases. This document will help you identify which tool should be used for which purpose.

While Windward is often used to generate sorted/filtered/aggregated documents from a database (e.g., a table of employees as of March 1 sorted by revenue), HotDocs is unable to generate documents consisting of data outside of a single user (table row). HotDocs does not have a reporting component. Instead, HotDocs generates documents based off of what it labels as ‘interviews.’ The program mail merges ‘answers’ from customer forms into templates set up in Word.

An Example Use Case

A tax law firm has many clients in one day. The law firm finds that a large portion of clients need to have the same contract built for them, but small modifications need to be made for each individual client. For HotDocs, the law firm has an IT or business professional use the program to design a template for the client contract. Once the clients fill out a computer interview, HotDocs then merges the answers from the interview with the previously designed template and outputs a PDF or Word document to an organizational interface.

With Windward the process is much more automated. The law firm needs to process NDAs and billing statements for every client of the firm. A business or IT professional uses Windward to design the templates in Microsoft Word by easily dragging and dropping the field placeholders in their designated areas. The designer can quickly create a client ID variable to filter these fields to display only the current client information. The template can then generate this report for a list of all clients via the Windward Engine, which is integrated into a custom stand-alone or web-based application. Via this batch processing, Windward efficiently generates accurate documents in a fraction of the time.


Windward Studios


Conditional Logic
Backwards Compatibility
Templates are compatible with older versions and platforms (.NET or Java).  Tags are automatically upgraded on first run.
Free form design allows users to intuitively make layout and formatting changes in Office a tool they know.  Create modern looking reports that impress clients
Data Selection
Drag/Drop Intuitive SQL, XPath and OData wizards make selecting data as easy as creating an email filter
Data Source Connectivity

All SSRS supported data sources plus...

  • File Based (XML, XLSX, Access)
  • Web Based (Salesforce, JSON, REST)
  • Big Data (MongoDB, Cassandra)
    Continued support of emerging  datasources
SQL and Access Databases (via JDBC), ODBC/OleDB (ADO.NET), Flat Files (TXT, CSV, XML)
Data Sources

All SQL supported data sources plus...

  • File Based (XML, XLSX, Access)
  • Web Based (Salesforce, JSON, REST)
Design Environments
  • Microsoft Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • Word Perfect
Interview Capability

Not Supported

HotDocs Interview Wizard
Learning Curves

Easily design template in tools you know through the Microsoft Office Suite, create tags with drag and drop design/wizards.

Open Formats

Templates and Output created to specifications allowing editing in native applications.  Open Office and make layout changes at any time.

Output Formats


Reporting Components Reuse

Windward PODs

HotDocs Components

Windward provides the user with live support (phone, email, & forum), tutorials, free webinars, comprehensive documentation, strong internet presence, and more.


Library can be deployed via .NETor Java (Office does not need to be installed)

Requires Microsoft Windows Server
Template Formats




Windward offers convenience and a host of ease-of-use features unavailable to HotDocs users.

With Windward you can:

  • HotDocs targets a specific solution for companies that need to automate the iterative administrative processes they have in place for forms for their customers (legal, healthcare, banking).
  • Windward can acheive the same iterative results as HotDocs, but the questionnaire and dataintegration must be built separately in the host application.
  • HotDocs does not adapt well to use cases outside its intended purpose. Companies requiring reports, charts, tables, database integration, images, feeds, or scheduled reports will encounter many limitations with some unsupported features.
  • Windward gives users flexibility to design freely in Office, while making it easy to retrieve, filter and sort data from their data sources to display in an intuitive manner.
  • The biggest difference. HotDocs users supply most of the data during report generation, whereWindward users can collect and generate documents en masse from data stored in many formats and locations.

Document Automation for high-volume output and a familiar user-friendly design environment

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Call us with questions at 1.303.499.2544

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.