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New Feature - Document Generation On Premises :)

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee
20 43 24.1K

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. 

Tags (1)
43 Comments
Automation Master
Automation Master

Love it how we have access to the item properties instead of just variables.  This is going to save lots of time

arobins
Nintex Newbie

‌ I've updated to Work flow enterprise 3.2.0.0 (2013) and updated the database settings and the new document generation option is not being provided as an option. I'm really excited to use this feature - is there a trick to setting it up?

Thanks

Andrew

dan_stoll
Nintex Newbie

Hey Andrew Robinson‌ , did you activate the feature ? In CA, under Nintex Workflow go to Live and external Settings. In here you will see a new option to activate the Doc Gen feature. Once this is done, make sure you go to the allowed actions page and ensure that it is allowed to the relevant people / groups. 

arobins
Nintex Newbie

Thanks Dan. I have it all set up but I can’t get the template to update and populate a site document library. Is there any requirement to have Nintex Live enabled?

Thanks

Andrew

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hey ‌, Nintex Live is a prerequisite. I've updated the post accordingly.

akrasheninnikov
Nintex Newbie

Great feature! Can you help us understand where the document generation takes place: also on prem or in the cloud? It's very important for some companies. 

dan_stoll
Nintex Newbie

Hey ‌, the power behind the action is located in the cloud. Off the cuff I know that it uses TLS to secure the communication to our Dec Gen API end points. This is the same deal with the Office Add in as well. I'll ask around to see if there is some official brochure ware

marcof
Nintex Newbie

i have a problem with "Document Gen." on-prem 2013 Action 

my new workflow fail with this error:

Failed to retrieve Document Generation consumption

Not applicable

Hey that looks quite nice.

@Chris    I have two questions:

  1. Is it planned to release this for SharePoint 2010?
  2. Is there some way to merge URLs (for example Nintex Forms) or other document types, like Word and Excel into PDF?

Thank you

akrasheninnikov
Nintex Newbie

I'd be surprised, actually. Given that SharePoint 2010 itself is no longer in Microsoft's mainstream support.

Automation Master
Automation Master

‌, since I share the same name as Mr Ellis, I'll respond   With DocGen you can merge documents of different types into a single PDF.  These are Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Cheers,

Chris

Automation Master
Automation Master

Hello all! I know this topic is related to the on-prem version of the action, however as Frank Field‌ mentioned the O365 counterpart, I would like to get more info about the topic. I know that after Nintex acquired Drawloop, Document Generation actions were introduced (am I right or misunderstood something? ). From what I see however for on-prem env. this action is "free". But for O365 it is licensed. I was given pricelist this month and realized, that first 250 generations are "free" (incl. in Nintex Workflow license). Higher quotas should be paid extra. On the other hand I was also said, that for every licensed workflow client receives 5 document generations.

Those quotas are for a year.

So when I have ex. 1.000 document generations and will use them in first half of the year, I need to buy more.

This is what I understood. Frank Field‌ mentioned, that there are going to be changes to the licensing model for the Document Generation action. But I'm not sure if I see a difference. I mean - what is a difference between being charged per each action being executed in the workflow or for each generated document? This is rather equal  Can anybody explain it to me please?

Regards,

Tomasz

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hi Tomasz, have you reached out to your local partner account manager? Couple of those statements aren't correct. 

Document Generation on O365 isn't free. The 5 ddocument generations per licensed workflow also isn't correct.

As you'll see from the blog, the action can generate up to 5 documents on each execution OnPrem. Currently for O365 the action can only generate 1 document per execution. We will be bringing the extra OnPrem functionality into O365 next year.

The initial document generation allowances differ depending on whether standard or enterprise is licensed, once the allowances are reached, extra packs can then be purchased, at varying quantities.

I'd suggest reaching out to a member of Nintex Sales in your region so they can provide the correct information and pricing.

Automation Master
Automation Master

Chris Ellis thanks for your fast reply.

Yes, I have spoken already with my account manager. She told me the as I wrote: that currently in O365 I have 250 document generations included (Standard license) and then additional 5 more per each workflow I have a license for. So for example if I have licensed 250 workflows, then I receive 250 "included" plus 250*5 + 250 = 1.500 document generations. This is what I had confirmed. However packs are more "numerical" (I can buy 6.000, 12.000 or 120.000 generations) - and as she said - it depends which limit is first reached (generations or no. of workflows) or how much do I need.

How will this change since January 2017? My process requires circa 6.500 documents generated per year. Will it get cheaper, or will it remain the same price as currently?

Regards,

Tomasz

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hey Tomasz, whether it's cheaper or not is going to depend on the processes currently requiring Document Generation.

The On Premises action is now capable of generating up to 5 separate documents per action execution so where/if you were using multiple Document Generation actions in a process on the existing O365 solution to do things like create a cover letter, a content section and a terms and conditions appendix (3 separate action executions) this could now be achieved with 1 single action execution this reducing your license use (from 3 to 1).

amolvaidya
Nintex Newbie

we are planning to get SharePoint 2013 in the first quarter (i know we are already late).

Am looking forward to using this feature 

jlukins
Nintex Newbie

Can't say I'm thrilled by extra licencing costs. I understand that there is processing done in the Cloud but we already pay so much for our Workflow Enterprise licence. I will have a chat to our Account Manager on the actual pricing.

As we are using on-prem I would have hoped that the processing would be done on-prem to avoid any additional costs like this.

We will probably end up still using the Update Document action which is a shame. Here is a link to a comparison btw.

tomcastiglia
Nintex Newbie

Hi Marco,

I'm seeing this same problem myself now.  Did you find a resolution?

marcof
Nintex Newbie

Hi Tom,

i have not found a solution so far

Not applicable

Hi, ‌, and ‌! I've just conferred with ‌, who suggests you contact ‌. Please let us know what happens.

Stonehage
Nintex Newbie

Any reason you're not jumping to 2016?

schneika
Nintex Newbie

Would it be possible to merge items from different lookup related lists to one word document?

tomcastiglia
Nintex Newbie

Hi Karl Gerd Schneider‌ - Yes, you could use multiple Query List actions to  return data from various lists and populate column values into variables, then plug those variables as tokens into your word document template.

amolvaidya
Nintex Newbie

just lazy corporate policies.

we will need to upgrade a HUGE bunch of hardware and software. So this time around our Infra team decided on 2013 

kkittinger
Nintex Newbie

Marco Freie,

Have you gotten any news on this issure from support. I wanted to check before i contacted them myself.

marcof
Nintex Newbie

Hi Kevin,

i have created a request to the nintex support

kkittinger
Nintex Newbie

Thank you, I have now put in myself a ticket to support to see what is up and will post any findings I get.

gunnarreyr
Nintex Newbie

Hi @Marco and @Kevin. I read somewhere you need to turn on Nintex Live. I have this exact problem you describe and in my environment I am having trouble connecting to Nintex Live.

markusschmitt
Nintex Newbie

Hey Dan, does this mean the Server which is running Nintex WF On Premise need to have a connection to the internet?

arobins
Nintex Newbie

Hi ‌. I'm trying to get my IT Security team to allow me to turn on Document Generation. They are asking for a diagram showing what is sent outside our on premise server and what is sent back and what is stored in the cloud. I've tried to reach out to some Nintex staff with no luck.

I want to utilize this feature. Do you have any idea how I get this information...who to contact?

Thanks

Andrew

Not applicable

Hi, Andrew Robinson‌,

Not sure if this is enough info, but click this for a page on our Help Files for the Doc Gen action. And you can click here for results of the query "security."  Hopefully that'll get you something useful.

Automation Master
Automation Master

Kevin KittingerMarco FreieTom Castiglia

Any updates on this? 

I'm getting the same thing - but in my environment I can confirm that we have no issues connecting to Nintex Live, though I am getting the same "Failed to retrieve Document Generation consumption." message when I open the Document Generation action.

tomcastiglia
Nintex Newbie

Hi  - That problem resolved itself for me soon after I posted this.  I think it just happened one time briefly and I don't recall taking any action to correct it.  Sorry that I don't have anything more helpful for you.

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hey Rhia, how are you going with this? I reached out to our support team to see if they have had any similar issues come in and while there's nothing in the queue there was a knowledge base article so I'd suspect it's happened before. The article suggests - 

Failed To Retrieve Document Generation Consumption - Nintex Knowledge Base

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Central Administration
  2. Navigate to Nintex Administration > External Settings for Workflow
  3. Verify that prerequisite services are enabled
  4. Verify that Document Generation has been activated
  5. Navigate to Nintex Administration > Health checks
  6. Verify that all health indicators are green

If you could run the above, if you don't have success I'd suggest raising a call with Support to diagnose and resolve for you.

Automation Master
Automation Master

Hi ‌!

I've got a ticket with support - I followed the instructions from them (which were just the same as yours) and all is well in that regard. We've also verified that our app pool account has permissions to the Nintex database. Unfortunately, no resolution as of you, but I'm sure there will be more to work through with the team.

Cheers,

rhia

Automation Master
Automation Master

Alright! This has been resolved. (Thank you ‌!)

We needed to disable and then re-enable the "Prerequisites" item in Central Admin. Seems to be working now.

Prado-G
Nintex Newbie

You Welcome ! Glad to help get you back up and running !

mmcclain1224
Nintex Newbie

Can the Tagged variables created using Document Generation be "read" if a user has edited the information in the Tagged items so that the update/change is sent via workflow to a log or database?  For example, if there's a typo in the content that was populated by Document Generation Tagger variables and they fix the typo by editing directly in Word.  Can we send that change elsewhere so it's logged and updated?

c_odegard
Nintex Newbie

Chris Ellis‌ is it possible to use an existing PDF as a "template", e.g. to combine it with generated Office Files into a single PDF?

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hi Chris. Document Generation for the SharePoint platforms will only accept doc, xls, ppt inputs. In Nintex Workflow Cloud, because a file variable can be declared as the input it is possible for this to be a pdf (including editable pdf) so this may be an option for you.

c_odegard
Nintex Newbie

Chris Ellis‌ Do you know of any documentation around the performance of DocGen on-premises? I notice in my own SP2016 farm it tends to take a while (sometimes over an hour) to generate a single Doc. 

Nintex Employee
Nintex Employee

Hi Chris, this certainly doesn't sound like normal operating behavior. If you could raise it with support@nintex.com to diagnose please. 

neillatham
Nintex Newbie

Good afternoon - are there any particular permissions needed to configure the Document Generation action? The reason I ask is that one of our 'designers' here is having an issue when trying to select a template from the document library. When they open the top level site they are presented with a 'callback' error. She has full control over the site, as do I and I am able to do this without any issue. The only reason I can tie it down to is that I am a site collection administrator and they are not. We've also recently upgraded Forms and Workflow to the latest version - 4.4.0.0 Any ideas, anyone?