Document Generation is the process of automatically creating documents based on rules.
Document Generation Software is useful when multiple documents need to be generated and each document contains a mixture of:
- Static content – the parts that remains the same in each document.
- Dynamic content – content that is customized for the audience or recipient of the generated document.
Document Generation is sometimes referred to as Document Assembly or Document Automation. Reporting Software is another subset of Document Generation Software.
The difference between Document Generation Software and Word Processing Software is that Word Processing Software is designed to be used by a single user to produce a single document, whereas Document Generation Software is an automated process that produces a document based on a set of rules.
Reasons for Document Generation
Document Generation can be used in two different situations, depending on the reason a document is being produced.
A batch request is where tens, hundreds or thousands of similar documents are generated at one time.
Example: A finance company may send letters to all of their customers to advise them of an increase in interest rates. The static content, such as: the company's name and address and the new rate, will be the same for each letter. However, the dynamic content such as the customer's: name, address, account details and repayments, will be different for each letter.
A transactional request generates one document that is needed at a particular moment in time.
The request to generate the document may be started by a user that requires a standard company document that needs to be customized in some way.
Example: A finance company prepares a contract for a customer applying for a loan. The same basic contract will be used with many customers. However, only one specific and customized contract will be produced at any one time. Each contract will contain static content such as: the general terms and conditions for that type of loan, as well as dynamic content that is unique to the applicant, like: name, address, amount borrowed, and repayments.
Scheduled Requests are a subset of Transactional Requests. Some Document Generation Software has the ability to schedule when a document should be created and possibly who the document should be delivered to.
Who uses Document Generation?
Document Generation is used in industries such as: Legal, Finance, Medical, Health, Government, Transport, Defense, Education, HR, Insurance and Logistics.
These industries use Document Generation to control and standardise the format and content of the documents they produce. The reasons range from maintaining a professional image to legal compliance.
Document Generation may be used by businesses, companies or government departments. They may have their own internal software development team, or could be using an outsourced development team, to build or customize a software application that drives the Document Generation process.
The software application that drives the Document Generation may range from: a simple web-form that captures the dynamic content to be used in the document; to a distributed enterprise software application that allows multiple users to extract the dynamic content from a database.
Types of generated Documents
A Document is a very broad term ranging from a single page letter to a 1,000 page report with nested tables, page numbering and table of contents.
Document Generation is suited to any document where part of the content is static and part is dynamic. Document Generation Software allows the user to create the "rules" used to generate a document. Documents could be: letters, contracts, statements, reports, proposals, quotes, orders or invoices.
Documents may be plain black and white documents, like invoices or receipts, with lots of compact information. They may contain tables of data or photos. Or, they may be “artistic”, such as an insurance company or telco including colorful graphics and pictures relevant to the demographics of their customer.
Reports are a subset of Documents. Reports usually include specific information and evidence that is presented, analysed and applied to a particular problem or issue. Reports often include tables of data or graphics.
Techniques for Document Generation
Template based Document Generation
Templates allow a user of Document Generation Software to specify the rules, layout, content and formatting of the desired document.
The template will typically contain some type of "placeholder". These are markers within the template that will be replaced with the dynamic content.
This type of Document Generation Software may have their own custom editor or techniques for creating the templates and adding the placeholders.
Code based Document Generation
An alternative to Template based Document Generation is to write computer code or instructions that fully describe the layout of the document.
The challenge with this technique is that every piece of static or dynamic content in the final document must have a corresponding instruction to place the content on the page.
Making any changes to the layout or formatting of the document requires someone familiar with the code to find and modify the relevant instructions.
Templates vs Code
The best technique will be dependent upon a number of factors such as the complexity of the document and how often the document changes.
What is Docmosis?
Docmosis is Template based Document Generation Software.
The driving goal when designing Docmosis was the desire to be able to create templates using tools that people already know, like: Microsoft Word or LibreOffice.
Choosing these richly featured editors meant that simple tasks like:
- Specifying Page Size and Page Orientation
- Creating Headers and Footers
- Adding Page Numbering and Table of Contents
- Creating Numbered and/or Bullet Lists
- Setting Font, Font-Size, Bold, Italic, Underline, Text Colour
- Inserting Tables and Images
could then be accomplished using features that people are already familar with.
This would significantly reduce the learning curve required to use the editor as well as allowing Technical and non-Technical staff to create and change the templates.
Next, the Docmosis placeholder syntax was designed to be easy to enter and understand.
It is as simple as typing "less-than/less-than ... greater-than/greater-than" like this:
Other important considerations were:
- Easy to add to custom software applications
- Performance and Speed
The result is a suite of Document Generation Software products that are easy-to-integrate, easy-to-use and will save you time when creating or changing the content and formatting of generated documents.
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