The Skinny on “Document ___________.”
Suppose you create policies, statements, employment letters, and other types of documents for your insurance company, bank, law firm, health care agency, government agency, etc. Into these documents you need to place information, which can take the form of items such as dates, contact information, and boilerplate paragraphs of text. And all this information is stored in a database or other data source such as an Excel spreadsheet.
In this situation you’re looking for a document generation solution. Document generation is an automated way of producing documents and reports and is extremely useful for businesses that create embedded software. You create a template and specific information from the data source populates the template when the document is generated.
Document generation is also referred to as document creation, document automation, and mail merge. There’s also document assembly,which is just one part of this process—the actual merging of the data with the template.
Document Generator/Documentation Generator
A similar term causes a great deal of confusion when searching for “document generation”software online. The terms documentation generator and document generator often appear in search results when you type “document generation,” and while the words are similar, the concepts are not.
A documentation generator is a programming tool that generates software documentation intended for programmers (API documentation)or end users (end user guides), or both. A document generator has a very narrow use case; it’s for when you create software and need documentation about your software applications to show users how they work.
Let’s say your organization has thousands of documents, and you need a system to track,store, organize and otherwise manage them.
This is where document management comes in.A document management system stores and organizes digital documents. It often includes features like workflow and metadata (which may show the date the document was stored and the identity of the user.) So, for example, where you might use document generation software to create your insurance policies, you would store those policies in and access them from a document management system.
Document collaboration software does just what the name implies; it allows more than one person to work on (i.e. edit) a particular document.Typically document collaboration systems include built-in version control, a process that lets users check in and check out documents.This ensures that two people aren’t unknowingly editing a document simultaneously, and it also allows users to retrieve earlier versions.
Document collaboration can be a feature of a document generation system, but not all document generation systems allow for document collaboration.
Lastly, suppose you have a file in one format,such as Microsoft Word (.DOCX), that must be in a different format, such as a PDF. In this case you would use a document converter, which is software that automatically converts from one file format to another. Document converters do not actually create documents; instead, they allow you to modify already existing documents.