cgellis

New Feature - Document Generation On Premises :)

Blog Post created by cgellis Employee on Dec 8, 2016

It's here! No longer will you need to mess around with Word Automation Services or Office Quick Parts. Dynamic Document Generation for Nintex Workflow On Premises is here, and it's PACKED with awesome new features. 

 

If you've seen this action in eh action for Nintex Office 365, you'll be aware of the HUGE time savings and efficiency it brings to your business processes whether they be creating a purchase order from a template to send to an external party for electronic signatory; collating new starter data in a security trimmed version controlled ppt file residing on SharePoint for induction material; sending an employee offer letter to a new employee; adding sales proposal details to a template or producing a PDF version of a safety incident report;..... the list goes on and on and on! With these actions combined with electronic signatory we've revolutionised the way you work with hard copy documents which get sent in internal mail for review or worse still, to external parties for them to sign and return by snail mail taking days, if not weeks and causing severe bottlenecks in our processes.

 

But why should the Office 365 users have all the fun?? (The great news is, everything you see below will be ported into the Office 365 action in the new year). Slight change to the licensing as well, rather than being as granular as per document generated, it's going to be per Document Generation action executed, which as we'll see can actually allow up to 5 documents generated per Document Generation action.

 

Introducing Document Generation action for Nintex Workflow SharePoint 2013 & 2016!

 

Let's take a look at the action then a use case (all screenshots are SharePoint 2016) - 

 

You'll need to grab an update for the package to the following version numbers - 

 

4.1.0.0 – Nintex Workflow for SharePoint 2016

 

3.2.0.0 – Nintex Workflow for SharePoint 2013

 

Nintex Live activated is a prerequisite for the Document Generation functionality.

 

Once installed, some small configuration changes are required in Central Administration - 

 

 

With the latest version of Nintex Workflow 2013 & 2016 (Standard and Enterprise versions) you'll find the Document Generation action under the Libraries and lists heading in the actions toolbox - 

Drag and drop as usual in place in your workflow and the action looks like this in place - 

Double click to configure and here's where you'll notice the new features it brings to the game - 

Above: Document Templates settings

Above: Table Data settings

Above: Images settings

 

OK, so as we can see there's already a lot more configuration available to you in this action over what we've been exposed to with Document Generation so let's flesh it out a bit more. 

Document Templates

 

The first thing we're going to need in the action are some document templates to add our metadata and variables into. Now, noticed I said templates plural and not template. That's because the On Premises action will allow me to put multiple documents either into a single combined document or create multiple documents within the single action. Pretty cool! So think Cover Letter, Main Content, T&Cs collated into one or Legal Transmittals pulling from different sources to output a single PDF output.

Generation Type: 

  • Single PDF file (20 template limit) - creates single PDF document
  • Separate PDF files (5 template limit) - creates separate PDF files dependent on merge settings
  • Original file types (5 template limit) - creates documents in their original format dependent on the merge settings

Order: Decide the order you want the templates merged in. 

Select or Create a Document Template: 

And now for the magic bit, 

Include document template:

  • Always
  • Based on a condition

So with the above set to Based on a condition, we can choose if that template goes into our collated document, only if the condition is met (much like conditional start in Workflow) and exclude the template if it's not met, more on that in the example later. Ability to add multiple conditions If this AND this then....

Merge Type:

Allows you to merge your templates together using Word based formatting. For Excel you can merge template in new Excel sheets and for PowerPoint you can merge slides into the same deck. 

Output Location: 

  • Document Library
    • Select an existing document library or folder
  • Enter a URL
    • Hard code URL or dynamic reference built
  • Attach to current item

Output file URL: Select the variable to store the output to

Overwrite existing item: Yes or No.

 

Table Data

 

Life's got a lot easier here as well. We no longer need to query each row of the XML returned, add that to a collection variable, rinse and repeat to get the values here to create the table. The action is going to do a lot of that work for us. 

Using a Query List action, we've captured the Column data we want and Output that to a collection variable we can use here.

Table Name:

Repeated format type:

  • Row - creates a new table row for every row in the collection
  • Table - creates a new table for every row in the collection, basically each row becomes its own table
  • Section - create a new section for every row in the collection, does require the use of the rich text content control in Word for this to work

Column 1: Select the collection variable we want to correspond to the column start values.

Data type in Column 1: 

  • String
  • Integer
  • Number
  • Date
  • Date and time

And we have the option to add more columns depending on how our table is laid out.

 

Images

 

Kind of self explanatory this one but worth highlighting. All those images you were capturing as part of your inspection processes or checklists etc that you weren't able to add to your documents previously, here we go!

Image Tag Name: used for display purposes in the Document Tagger

Image URL: And here we've given you the usual Reference builder if you want to dynamically build a URL to grab an item attachment. Or, hard code it if it's something you've got stored up on SharePoint that you want to embed in your documents. Added bonus is these images URLs can also be public.

Example

 

Now that's the generic stuff out of the way, let's have a look at the action with some real data in it. The scenario I'll be using is a Real Estate companies rental application process. We've got a list to capture the application with a workflow to generate my document based on a number of conditional choices on my form, so let's see the initiation form first of all - 

Here we're capturing the main details for my renter and the rental property but also take note of the options at the bottom of the form, 'First time renter' and 'Pets'. Note one is selected and one isn't, they'll form the conditions upon which I decide whether certain documents are merged or not in the Document Generation action.

 

Submit... and I'll go check the workflow.

 

My Document Generation action fully configured looks like this - 

 

I've chosen to keep the original file types (maybe because I'll be sending via DocuSign for electronic signature before converting to PDF a bit later on) but you'll see from this I have four different templates that are going to make up this output - cover page, lease content then two documents which are based on the conditions I selected in the form. If this works correctly for this renter i should only see the First Time Renter template and not my Pet Clauses.

 

My output is quite simple, I want my file to go straight into a Document Library and overwrite anything existing with the same name in there. 

 

I've got myself a table in there which my document tagger (more on that in a second) has access to - 

For additional context, here's the list from which my collections were created -

 

And finally some Images (note the public URL in amongst the SharePoint content) - 

 

Now all that is configured, finally let's have a look at the new and improved Document Tagger when I edit one of those templates by selecting the Open and tag option - 

 

In v1 of the Document Generation action we gave the tagger access to just the workflow variables we'd declared. You've now got access to the lovely Common reference data, Item Properties, the Images you've grabbed in the action and also the Table data. We didn't stop there though. Previously you had to click in place where you wanted the workflow variable to be inserted into the document and add it in, we've tweaked that before as well so you can Copy and Paste the tag - 

 

Alright, enough gushing over how awesome it is, let's have a look at my generated document from my rental form - 

 

 

Certainly looks like it's been generated with the filename I wanted from the renters name so that's cool and I've got a single document despite having 4 templates in the action so again, positive signs. Let's look inside. Actually, rather than screenshot the heck out of this, I'll attach the output. In there you'll see my cover page, content with all my required metadata, photos and also my appendix for a first time renter. But you shouldn't see the Pet Clause.

As part of the bigger workflow this document has then gone on for electronic signature using our Nintex DocuSign actions, plenty on that here in Community. 

 

Try it out folks, we've given you a trial allocation of Doc Gens to wet your appetite. 

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