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April 24th, 2023
We are getting closer to the release date for OL Connect 2023.1, currently scheduled for mid-May 2023, and oh boy! are we ever excited about this one! As usual, there are a slew of improvements and fixes, and we had a hard time picking the ones that would be showcased in this summary. There are a lot of goodies in this release, so let’s get to it!
A completely redesigned Welcome screen allows you to perform the most common tasks from a single place. The new Learn section shows our most recent blog posts and lists the most popular hands-on tutorials and how-to’s. This brings OL Connect related knowledge right at your doorstep. The content is fetched dynamically from our rebranded resources and learn platform, whose URL will be made public shortly.
The overhauled New section not only lets you create new documents but also download online resources. The goal of these resources is to show best practices and to inspire users. Selecting an online resource shows a short description explaining its use case and detailing the techniques it uses. That information may even include links to how-to’s, blog posts or pages in the online Help.
Downloading a resource opens it in the application. Often, the resource is a combination of a template and a data mapping configuration, so you have everything at hand to preview, output and most importantly, discover!
Over 40 smaller fixes and improvements have been implemented in the Designer alone. Several of those are small adjustments suggested by users to make their life easier when using the application, while other more important ones greatly expand the functionality of the module.
The following enhancements were made to the expression implementation in OL Connect Designer:
Missing images can be handled in various ways, depending on your use case. The following options are added:
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Sometimes you need to work with several sample data files, each file containing a particular set of data that allows you to test for specific conditions in your template. But in order to use a different data file, you had to switch over to the DataMapper, select a different file and make it the active one, then switch back to the Designer to see how the template reacts to that data file.
You can now switch data files directly from the Data Model pane, using a drop-down that lists all the sample data files that are available for that data mapping config. It’s that easy!
The Validate all records option has been enhanced to display a table of all operations performed and the time spent in each step. This allows you to identify the steps that consume the most time and that could therefore be candidates for optimization.
The metrics are gathered for all the records that have been validated and are displayed in descending order of time spent percentage. Clicking on any item in the table automatically selects the corresponding step in the flow.
A second tab also lists potential issues with the configuration. For instance when a very large number of fields is being extracted (several thousands), the Detected problems list might warn you that such a large number of fields may take a long time to process and offers potential solutions for mitigating the problem.
Some steps can take a while to execute and it was previously difficult to determine whether a step was actually doing something, if it was stuck, or if it was caught in an endless loop (a mistake in a Script step could do that!). A new Timeout preference now allows you to control the maximum amount of time the DataMapper will spend in any step before timing out and aborting the process. By default, that value is set to 15 seconds.
Fonts that are not embedded in PDF input files can now be made available to OL Connect by storing them in a folder on the system, and registering them in a font map file. This improves quality because the content is rendered as intended, and it can improve data mapping of PDFs in certain cases where character information was missing.
With AFP data streams, it is not uncommon to have resources such as fonts, images, overlays, etc. separate from the print file, in order to reduce the size of print files. Until now, OL Connect could not process AFP input files with external resources unless these resources were first embedded in the print file. To do so, we would provide an unofficial tool to customers who needed it. Such an unofficial tool can raise questions regarding support, etc. Both these issues have been resolved:
Both job and output presets are no longer hidden away in a folder in the Connect Designer’s workspace, but treated like regular files that can be managed alongside your templates and data mappers. This makes it a lot easier to let these presets be part of your OL Connect projects (whether you use project versioning or not). You can now:
Because of this, the File/Print Presets... menu item is no longer needed, and neither are the special buttons for picking presets in the Send to Workflow..., Send to Server..., and Package... dialogs.
External sorting in job creation now provides a document sheet count field to the external sorting application. This is useful when using third party postal sorting applications from within job creation, because postal sorting typically requires the mailpiece size to be known.
Output creation can now add banner pages to the output it’s creating. The existing additional content functionality can be used to add content to these banner pages. To add content to a banner page, a very simple condition is sufficient to ensure the content is only added on the banner: page.banner
Certain AFP printers require a specific flag on a font to enable printing of magnetic ink for MICR applications. We now support enabling this MICR font flag for both AFP and IPDS output.
logger.warn('The current data file [', Watch.GetOriginalFileName(), '] is not a valid PDF');
Watch.Log('The current data file [ ' + Watch.GetOriginalFileName() + ' ] is not a valid PDF',2);
to output the messages
The current data file [ MyTest.csv ] is not a valid PDF
The Office 365 tasks now accept variable values in their connection parameters. This allows the tasks to dynamically switch accounts in a process without having to create numerous branches to handle each individual account. For instance, given a list of OneDrive users and folders, you could create a loop that drops the same file (or different files) in each account in the list.
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Thanks for the update Philippe. More blogs please.
I know! It may appear that we’ve neglected the blog over the last couple of months, but it’s because we are in the process of moving everything to an updated platform, with an expanded feature set. We just need a few additional weeks to get it all done.