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Project Wizards, it's a kind of magic

Original Author: Erik van den Heuvel

Connect 2019.1 introduces the following Project Wizards:

  • Print Promotional Jobs: see how the All In One step is used to create a batch of personalized letters.
  • Print Transaction Jobs: create print content once and use multiple Create Output tasks to generate various print output variants.
  • Serving a basic Webpage: learn how to serve and personalize a simple web page using OL Connect Workflow.
  • Submitting data with Webforms: shows you how to serve multiple web pages using a single Workflow process. Submitted data are stored in the Data Repository.
  • Basic email setup: uses a Connect Workflow to send email messages. Attachments are a static PDF stored with the template and PDFs that are pre-rendered based on the provided sample data and stored on disk.
  • Capture OnTheGo Timesheets: has a set of Workflow processes to deploy and serve COTG Timesheet forms. Additional processes capture the submitted data and store them in JSON, XML and PDF format. The PDF is generated by merging the data with an OL Connect template.

 

Getting started

Let’s have a closer look at Project Wizards in general before plunging into them individually.

The files and folder structure of Project Wizards provide a clear and consistent guide for building OL Connect projects. All Project Wizards share the same approach. At the root of the project folder there are two subfolders: Configurations and Workspace.

The Configurations folder contains the required resources, e.g. the Workflow configuration, Designer templates, data mapping configurations, Job presets, Output presets and sample data. The Workspace folder holds the In and Out folders used by the Folder Capture and Send to Folder steps in the Workflow configuration.

print promotional jobs

The Workflow configuration consists of one or more Workflow processes. Each configuration contains a global variable holding the path to the Workspace folder of the respective project. This variable is automatically populated by the Project Wizard. All steps in the processes of a project point to the same root directory for reading and writing files.

project wizard

Note! The Workflow configs are created in such a way that you can import the resources of other Project Wizards without overwriting processes and variables.

Invoking a Project Wizard

To start a Project Wizard:

  1. Launch OL Connect Designer.
  2. Click Project Wizards in the Create/Open section of the Welcome screen.
  3. Select a Project Wizard to open the respective 3. wizard dialog.
  4. Specify the target location for the Project folder. The wizard writes the Configurations and Wordspace folder to the selected directory.
  5. Click Finish to install the files and (optionally) send the project files to OL Connect Workflow. As part of this process the wizard updates the global workspace variable. Depending on the respective Project Wizard, additional parameters are updated. If the templates and other resources are sent to Workflow, the environment is ready for testing directly after installing the project.

Workflow Wizard

Note! The Project Wizards feature requires OL Connect Workflow and other Connect components to be installed and running on the local machine (the machine running Connect Designer).

The following sections describe the high level goals of the various Project Wizards.

Print Promotional Jobs

The goal of this Project Wizard is to show how the All In One task in OL Connect Workflow can be used to generate a promotional print job. The Workflow configuration most likely resembles your very first OL Connect experiments in OL Connect Workflow. The config consists of the following steps: Folder Capture, All in One, Send to Folder.

output

All In One

The All In One task combines multiple different OL Connect tasks into a single Workflow step. The task extracts data from the job data file, merges the data with a template created in the Designer and it creates the final output. It makes creating print content easier and faster, as the task is optimized for this specific purpose. It exchanges less data with the server than the separate plugins do and it has multi-threading support: it can produce the data set and content items in parallel.
Easy, so why bother creating a wizard for this? Simply prepare some sample data, create the accompanying data mapping configuration, ‘design’ a template, construct an Output Config and send these ingredients to OL Connect Workflow. Subsequently create the workflow process, load the sample data and run the process in debug mode. For experienced users this sounds trivial but for users who are new to OL Connect this can be quite a challenge and there are several steps where things can go wrong.

all in one

So how is the Print Promotional Jobs wizard helping new users with this use case? As mentioned, the goal is to elaborate on the All In One task. At this stage we don’t want to bother the user with creating the various files. After opening the Workflow configuration the user can inspect the various steps in the process and familiarize himself with the various configuration options. Matching sample data is already linked to the process so hitting Run in the Debug ribbon instantly generates output. The output is found in the Out folder in the Workspace folder.

Print Transactional Jobs

The Print Transactional Jobs Project Wizard generates invoice documents and shows how to use the separate Connect tasks to create multiple output files for content items.

The Execute Data Mapping step generates a record set by executing a data mapping configuration on the data source. Create Print Content generates content items and stores this information until output creation is requested. The Create Job step prepares the content items and groups the invoices per customer. Multiple Create Output steps are used to generate various output files based on the content items created by the Create Print Content step.
Output produced by this process:

  • Single PDF for the entire job (invoices are grouped per customer)
  • PDFs per customer
  • PDFs per invoice

transactional

Serving a Web Page

This wizard generates a Workflow process that serves a web page created from a Connect template.

To test the web page:

  1. Launch the Workflow Configuration tool and open the Serving a Web Page.OL-workflow file.
  2. Start the Workflow Service, choose: Tools > Service Status > Start Service.
  3. Send the configuration to the Workflow service by clicking the Send Configuration icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  4. Launch your web browser and enter the following URL: http://localhost:9090/hello. The Hello my name is web page appears.

Visiting the URL triggers the process starting with the Server Input task. The action of this task is set to hello.

webServing a Web Page and beyond

The process goes slightly beyond serving a simple web page: it also contains an Execute Data Mapping step to parse an URL parameter. At the bottom of the page a series of hyperlinks are shown to illustrate passing the name parameter via the URL. Click one of these links, or add the parameter to the URL in the web browser manually and press return to update the web page.

Consider the following URL: http://localhost:9090/hello?name=Dewi Greenwood


The Workflow service automatically writes URL parameters to the Job Data file. The data mapping config in the Workflow process extracts the value and passes it to the Data Model of the template. A standard User Script in the template is used to add the respective data to the web page.
web 2

Note! The Polling interval of the process is set to 0 to avoid waiting times when invoking the web page from the browser.

Submitting Data with Webforms

Serving web forms and capturing submitted data can be done in various ways. This wizard shows how to do this using a single Workflow process. The process serves the Web Form and captures the submitted data. The main branch renders and returns the web form, where a separate branch shows a personalized Thank You page and stores the data in the Data Repository. The latter is a simple way to illustrate how data can be stored. In a production environment one could store information in for example an SQL database.

web 3

The steps to test this project are identical to the Serving a Web Page wizard (e.g. open the configuration and send it to the Workflow service). The URL to access the web form is: http://localhost:9090/form

Serving two web pages could also be achieved using separate processes. In real life it is more efficient to have a single process monitoring activity.
The Thank You page is personalized using the submitted data. The selected entries in the drop-down menu and radio group are used to load text fragments from snippets stored in the web page template.

web 4

Basic Email

This project’s Workflow process shows how to create and send email messages using the Execute Data Mapping and Create Email Output tasks. The wizard dialog contains several fields to configure the Create Email Output task (sender email address, email server address etc). The wizard pre-populates the fields of the Create Email Output task but the user is free to overwrite the values after opening the configuration in the Workflow Configuration Tool.
email

The easiest way to test the process is to step through the process in Debug mode. The sample data contains 5 records and for demonstration purposes all messages are sent to the sender address. The email message contains two PDF attachments. The first is a static Return and Refund Policy.pdf attachment taken from the Resources in the Connect template. The second PDF is attached based on the value of a data field and taken from a set of pre-rendered PDFs stored in the Workspace folder of the project.email 2

The data contains the full path to the respective PDF file and is constructed in the data mapping config. The data mapping config concatenates a Workflow variable and the order number (used in the name of the PDF files):

automation.variables.em_basic_workspace + '\\Delivery Notes\\' +
record.fields.OrderNumber + '.pdf';

In the Preprocessor of the data mapper config a property was created to fetch the global workspace variable of this project from the Workflow environment.

Capture OnTheGo Timesheets

Last but not least: the Capture OnTheGo Timesheets project wizard. This wizard generates a set of Workflow processes to deploy and serve COTG Timesheet forms. Additional processes capture the submitted data and store this information in JSON, XML and PDF format. The PDF is generated by merging the submitted data with a Connect template.

Important! To run this test one should have a COTG account consisting of a Repository ID, Password and COTG user account. The wizard requires you to enter this information and writes it to the respective components and variables in the Workflow configuration. For more information on how get a one year free subscription for three users of Capture OnTheGo see: http://www.captureonthego.com /en/promotion/

The easiest way to play with these project files is to run everything on your local machine. This includes running COTG for Windows. Please follow the instructions from the Connect to localhost with COTG on Windows 10 How To.

The Workflow configuration consists of the following processes:

  • Deploy form: renders HTML forms and saves them to the Workspace folder. Subsequently the process sends document information to the COTG server. This makes the form available for the COTG app.
  • Serve form: loads the HTML form from disk and returns it to the COTG app.
  • Capture data: receives the data submitted using the form and stores the data to disk. In a production environment one would probably store the respective information in a database too.
  • Generate report: takes the information stored by the Capture data process and generates a report in various file formats (JSON, XML and PDF).

timesheets

To run the full project on your local machine.

  1. Install the COTG app from 1. the Microsoft Store.
  2. Follow the instructions of the Connect to localhost with COTG on Windows 10 article.
  3. Launch the Workflow Configuration tool and open the COTG Timesheets.OL-workflow file.
  4. Start the Workflow Service, choose: Tools > Service Status > Start Service.
  5. Send the configuration to the Workflow service by clicking the Send Configuration icon on the Quick
    Access Toolbar.
  6. Select the Deploy form process and step through the process in Debug mode. This creates a form on disk and sends information to the COTG server.
  7. Launch the COTG app and login using your credentials. The form should be available in the Repository view.
  8. Select the form and click Download. When you have trouble downloading the form, check if the configuration has been sent to the Workflow service and if the service has started.
  9. Enter some data in the Worksheet section and add a signature. Submit the form.
  10. Locate the Workspace folder of the project and check the files in the Out folder.

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