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Generate Pages in Workflow

asked on May 9, 2013 Show version history

Is there a way to generate pages for electronic documents such as Word and Excel from within Workflow?

 

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APPROVED ANSWER
replied on May 9, 2013 Show version history

Out-of-the-box, that’s not possible.  It is something that you could create, but there are two primary obstacles to consider.

 

1)     We generate pages using Snapshot, which is a printer driver.  It’s extremely difficult to completely automate the printing of a document.  Even in a best-case scenario, you’ll probably run into situations where an unexpected prompt comes up, and user intervention is required to print the document.  If you can find a way to generate pages without the use of a printer driver, that would be far better.

2)     Generating pages is an intensive process, and can bog down your Workflow server immensely.  If you are going to be generating pages programmatically, you will want to pass the document to a machine besides your Workflow server for processing.

 

If you can find a way to work around those issues, then you can build your own custom Workflow activity to generate pages.  Good luck!

 

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replied on December 1, 2016

How does import agent do it without prompts or performance issues?

If import agent could see documents in the repository it would be great, but it only work with Windows.

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replied on December 1, 2016

Good point, Chad.

Laserfiche, has there been any change in this over the last few years? Any comment on Chad's point?

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replied on December 1, 2016

I feel like the problem is that generating images is not what the workflow engine was designed to do. Just like it can not OCR pages. It is a process automation / instruction dispatcher engine.

If we could just use Import Agent with the capability of accessing documents within Laserfiche I think that would solve all my problems.

This just seems to keep coming back around to me with almost every customer I run into. No one likes the tools built into Adobe Reader yet everyone uses PDFs anyways. Microsoft wants you to use XPS and you have to scour the depths of the internet to find 3rd party TIFF printer.

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Replies

replied on November 4, 2013

You can get Quick Fields Agent and have workflow apply tags to files (or have the session start with a search) and use Quick Fields to Generate Pages for documents. It should be able to preserve the original Entry ID as well so you have have a completely automated setup for generating pages and also an easy to track history of any given document, even if Quick Fields has generated pages for it

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replied on February 5, 2015

Just for fun to see if it could be done:

Pre-requisites:
1. Workflow & Import Agent
2. Full version of Word and/or Excel installed on your workflow server.  
3. MS Office InterOp Assemblies for Word and Excel.  

I created:
1. A workflow rule to search for Word Documents and Excel Spreadsheets in the Repository
2. Pass the search hits to a Script calling MS InterOp Assemblies which would "Save As" the content as a PDF file
3. The saved PDF file was saved using the original source EntryID as the name of the file
4. I would have the Script tell Word and Excel to Save the content as a PDF in a folder monitored by LF Import Agent
5. The LF Import Agent was setup with a profile monitoring a folder to convert PDF images to Monochrome files as it sent PDF files back to the repository
6. The Import Agent would send the Monochrome version of the files back to a folder monitored by another "Incoming Converted" workflow rule
7. The "Incoming Converted" workflow rule would see the name as the EntryID, do a search, and long story short, merge the source Word Doc or Source Excel Spreadsheet with the imported images

 

It was kind of fun creating all this and another reason why I love working with Laserfiche.  There are a couple of caveats though.  I did not test spreadsheets with multiple tabs, Word Documents and Excel Spreadsheets could be password protected or have embedded macros which stalls the workflow (so some kind of timer needs to arbitrarily kill the process).  There may be other caveats as well, but the basic process can all be automated if you have "simple" content that needs to be converted.

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replied on February 6, 2015

When you say "kill the process", did you mean the Workflow server executable? That can cause data loss.

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replied on February 6, 2015

A fine distinction Miruna...wink

I was referring to the MS Office InterOp assemblies that might try to "Save As" a PDF file some password protected word document or macro embedded spreadsheet as that kind of content will prompt the user for additional info upon opening the content which cannot be handled by the script and therefore stalls the script.  I wanted to warn folks they should consider a mechanism to monitor the script and kill the script that initiated the MS Office InterOp assemblies (making every effort to do so as gracefully as possible, releasing any locks, protecting the main threads, etc . . .).

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replied on February 6, 2015

Then, by all means, kill away. laugh

 

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replied on June 2, 2016

Hi Chad, 

 

Hope you are well, I am in the process of setting what you have mentioned above.. Are you able to provide me with the script you created (if possible) or the workflow you used? 

 

Thank you in advance,

 

Regards

Ziad

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replied on March 16

I would love a copy of that script or workflow too!

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replied on March 31, 2014

Kenneth Salomon - We have QuickFields but have not used it very much. Can you expand on your response on how to get QuickFields to do that? Do you need QuickFields Agent if you don't need to do it manually or can Workflow call QuickFields to do it?

 

 

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replied on March 31, 2014

This would be a really great activity to add to Workflow but I have been told that it would be difficult to do and have it run unattended. I don't understand why that is. When I generate pages in LF client, I just click the button and it generates pages without asking for user input. Why can't Workflow just call the same code for the entry selected?

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replied on March 31, 2014

When you print from the Client, if the application pops up any messages (for ex, Word putting up a message to tell  you the document is outside printing margins), the user is there to dismiss it. If this were to happen on a server, where there is no user logged in, printing jobs will queue up behind the one that's stuck waiting on user feedback.

 

Quick Fields can only generate image pages from PDFs, though it can extract text from Office documents.

 

Currently, manually triggering Snapshot is the only Laserfiche option.

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replied on May 28, 2014

Miruna - I just ran across the Batch Processing Mode option under User Options  ->Generate Pages->General. What is that used for and can it help me with this business need?

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replied on May 28, 2014

Those options apply to generating pages through Snapshot from the Client, there is no automation there.

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