Wondering what’s in store for our next release, version 14?
A lot. Two major projects are underway as a result of customer requests:
- Re-introduction of Microsoft® PowerPoint® into AutoTag. PowerPoint joins Word and Excel as a full-fledged template interface and document output.
- Redesigned PDF output. We’re bringing our PDF output generation inhouse with our own custom code instead of deploying the iText open source library.
We’re also working on continued HTML output support, Google Application Engine integration ability, and an upgrade in our XPath library to version 2.0.
All of these changes show our continued commitment to customer requests as well as improving the great reporting experience you have come to expect from Windward’s line of products.
Reintroduction of PowerPoint® Support
Yes, we heard your call for PowerPoint support. We have combined a feature set of the most frequently used operations, and our recent core code redesign is enabling us to support more features in PowerPoint:
- New ForEach and slide break handling. By far our most requested feature for PowerPoint has been the ability to use Windward’s forEach tag to break tables from one slide to another. Sometimes not all of the data can fit on a single slide, and breaking that data to be printed on a new slide solves the issue. (NOTE: We have taken a pretty unique approach to this problem and you will have to see it firsthand to understand how we did it.)
- Table Header Row Repeat across slide breaks. A subfeature of the above, you can repeat a header row or rows on continuing slides where your data appears, just like you would use this feature in Word or Excel.
- Chart and bitmap tags. Work with charts and images just as you do in in Word and Excel. Native Microsoft support for charts and images is now fully featured in PowerPoint, giving you the tools to make your presentation pop!
- Tag tree. Now you can view your tag structure and access each Windward tag quickly in PowerPoint.
- Static Shapes and SmartArt support. Another great feature implemented in version 13 earlier this year was so popular that we have extended that support to PowerPoint templates. You will now be able to use Shapes and SmartArt to create stunning presentations.
- Footers support. High on the list from our customer interviews was the ability to use dynamic tags in the footers of PowerPoint slides to update page numbers, footer text, contact information and even company logos. Now you can automatically apply these items to the bottom of each slide in your presentation.
- Slide master manipulation. The slide master is an important part of any PowerPoint slide deck. Now you can update the look and feel of your entire document in a single place.
Redesigned PDF Output Support
Windward has relied on a solid open source library since the product’s inception, but we have not been able to resolve some limitations. So we made the decision to bring our PDF generation code inhouse and move away from the iText platform.
This new integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional text such as Arabic. Your PDF output will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.
Additional Refinement for HTML Output
You’ve asked for the ability to preview HTML templates in a web application before printing them to the desired output delivery format. While AutoTag doesn’t support design of HTML templates — although we do support HTML files as input templates — our internal development of a web-based AutoTag editor is further driving this output format. (More on the web-based editor in a minute!) This includes:
- Better handling for background images and colors
- Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
- Better handling of template header and footer images
Support for Google Application Engine Integration
Clients are requesting the ability to integrate Windward’s powerful, lightweight engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE). This will enable our users making the leap into the cloud to take the advantages of Windward with them.
The Web-based Template Editor
I wanted to take a brief moment to give mention to another project that has been underway in 2014.
Windward is developing a web-based version of its AutoTag editor. Our development team has been hard at work building a Web-based word processor with full API support for third-party applications. The first third-party application will be a web-based version of AutoTag.
This development effort went into motion when Microsoft informed Windward, a Microsoft Gold Partner, that Microsoft Office365 will not allow support for third-party add-ins and applications. Windward’s effort not only benefits our product line, but we hope that others will utilize it for their add-ins for the Office suite should they need to move their application into an online presence.
What’s Coming in Version 14.1?
Upgraded XPath Support from 1.0 to 2.0
Another heavily requested feature from the Windward ideas website has been an upgrade of our XPath libraries from version 1.0 to 2.0. Version 2.0 of XPath will allow our users to work with functions and macros that they previously were limited by in XPath 1.0.
A few notable advantages are listed here:
- Distinct values
- Current date and time functions
- Operations on sequences
- Conditional expressions
- Intersections, differences and unions
- Data typing support
Advanced Data Source Connections for OData, REST and URLs
Expanded OData Functionality
Expanded List of Macros
Block Mode allowing forEach loops to execute side by side
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Author: Ryan Fligg
Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.
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