Speaking Your Language

The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

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Speaking Your Language - The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

Productive Data Solutions: Document Generation Done Right

Here’s one way to do document generation. You create a document, make hundreds of copies, grab a trusty gallon bottle of Wite-Out, paint over all the specific information, and manually enter relevant data in each copy.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t too far off from the approach many companies take toward document generation. They needlessly waste time and energy only to end up with an inferior product.

Productive data solutions means using your data, um, productively. It’s document generation at its best.

What to look for in a document generation system

When evaluating docgen software, be sure to look for the following:

Flexible Format 

Advanced docgen software provides you with a flexible format.  Instead of a limiting three-section layout, it allows every piece of information, no matter the size, to be easily imported and exported into a document.

Intelligent Data Handling

Productive document generation software enables you set rules regarding which data should be pulled into a document and what should be excluded.  This allows for fast and efficient processes while better tailoring each document to its target customer.

Skip the limiting formats and instead use a flexible design interface such as MS Word.

An Easy-to-Use Program

A program that is easy to use and requires virtually no learning curve will significantly increase the speed at which projects get completed.  Also, when the business user can quickly become a master of document generation, developers will no longer be needed to build documents or operate the software.

Compatibility with Existing Systems

Great docgen software is compatible with a variety of programming languages and data sources. Companies don’t have to spend time putting data into other formats or invest in new equipment or developer training.

Windward’s approach to productive data solutions

At Windward, we believe the most productive data solutions are those that everyone – not just IT specialists – can use. That’s why our document generation products are based on Microsoft Word as the design interface. MS Word is a ubiquitous, straight-forward, flexible program that business users already know.

Want to know more about productive document generation? Contact The Windward Sales Team and they’ll put you in touch with our white paper How To Do Document Generation Right.

How a 15-hour Saturday Can Change Your View on Software Engineers and Code Wars

After spending a 15-hour Saturday with a group of very-talented software engineers, I have to say I have a much stronger appreciation for the way they think.

I’m  in marketing and initially believed that sitting at a computer and typing in a language that will not benefit you when ordering a cup of coffee in a charming little (insert any country) village, lacks imagination. Lacks humor. Lacks the freedom of being creative.

I was wrong!

Taking a step back, I had to learn what to call my colleagues. Software Engineer, Computer Programmer, or Programmer. Dictionary.com provides the following definitions

Definition of Computer Programmer

OK, makes sense. This is what a computer programmer does.

Define software engineer

Interestingly enough, the world does not give these definitions equal weight. When Googling “software engineer position” 20,700,000 results come up. When Googling “computer programmer position” 359,000 results come up. (If anyone has insight as to the difference, please comment below.)

OK, I’ll stick with calling them by name or collectively saying “development”.

This 15-hour Saturday was spent working on the Windward International Collegiate Programming Championship. Or, where computer science majors from the top schools throughout North America battled one another with artificial intelligence programs they had only eight hours to create.

In observing everything that went in and came out of our code wars, I now realize not only  how much programming intelligence was needed, but also creativity, imagination and humor. Imagine being able to write an artificial intelligence program for a flag-capturing, bomb-throwing giant tomato looking character. Here’s what Ryan had to say about it in his blog.

Speaking of imagination, check out the new MOTHER artificial intelligence as developed by some computer science undergraduates.

With my newfound respect for software engineers and their use of imagination in writing artificial intelligence, I’ll just ask one of them to write a program  that will order an espresso for me while I’m in Zagreb!

 

 

Business Reporting Tools: Awesome Custom Functions

You probably already know Windward ships with a number of predefined function tools. Want to

  • Add or subtract from a date to adjust for time zones?
  • Easily add a time stamp that shows when a report is generated?
  • Work with a complex mathematical equation, such as taking the square root of a number?

All these capabilities and more are available through Windward’s equations and functions business reporting tools.

But you may not know Windward also supports custom functions. And custom functions can save you oodles of time – and hassles.

Custom Functions

AutoTag’s report design interface, Microsoft Office, includes a number of native equations and functions (think Sum in Excel). Windward adds onto this with additional functions like average, time, and contains.

But you may want more complex functions in your reports. For example, one of our government customers is using custom functions to calculate pay grade. Instead of having to manually calculate the amount, a custom function takes care of it automatically.

 Custom Functions For All

Custom functions work in all Windward products. In the Java engine, you create a new WindwardCustomFunctions.jar file to do this.  In the .NET engine and AutoTag, you create a new WindwardCustomFunctions.dll file.

We can also help you set up custom functions through our professional services. Contact our sales group by email at The Windward Sales Team or call us at (303) 499-2544.