This articles covers output format limitations that can occur when generating reports from Windward Templates built in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint). These limitations can cause unexpected results when your report is created. Windward recommends familiarizing yourself with these design limitations so you can build templates that are accurately produced when you Output your report.
Vertical Absolute Position
Absolutely positioned objects can cause you problems as they don't move when the data is merged in. And that can be a problem as the merged in data needs to adjust other objects and take into account their placement. For more about how Windward Templates work see Template Layout Best Practices.
The normal text that is printed in your document will be placed in the output report in the same place it was placed in the template. However, Windward's tags can produce objects that can expand or shrink depending on the select statement. ForEach tags will always expand and produce more rows of text while the If, Else, Switch and Case tags may add more text or remove text from a report.
When Windward objects expand they push the text and objects located below further down in the report. In the case where Windward objects shrink, the text and objects below will move further up in the report. This can cause page breaks to occur where you might not expect them. Using hard and soft page breaks can ensure your text appears where you want it to in the final report.
When you absolutely position an item, you are telling Microsoft Office that item should always remain in the same position in the report. You can think of this as a large rock extending out from a waterfall causing the water to crash against the rock before it hits the basin. The water's flow is disrupted by the rock during its descent. Similarly, text and other objects that are not absolutely positioned will flow smoothly and dynamically with the layout, however items that are fixed will have text written over them producing undesired output. Windward generally recommends not using absolutely positioned items, but if you must use them, here are a few tips below to assist you.
Items with a vertical absolute position related to the top of the page or margin are problematic as Windward has to guess how to place them based on the report objects generated prior to the item. The most commonly absolutely positioned items are text boxes, but this also happens with images and tables.
- Absolute vertical position items based on the paragraph or line is fine.
- Absolute horizontal position is fine
When generating a report with a template created in one format to output to another format, there may be inconsistencies due to the nature of the program format. For example, a template generated in Excel may not produce the exact same output in Microsoft PowerPoint because it does not understand the concept of tables, rows and formulas. For this reason, Windward doesn't not recommend and may not support input and output formats which are problematic. Please see Input to Output Format considerations.
OpenXML formats are DOCX, PPTX and XLSX
- Templates other than DOCX, PPTX, and XLSX have limited functionality. This is a limitation of the older formats, not a limitation of Windward.
- RTF interpretation varies from different Word versions and even service packs between versions. It is for this reason Windward does not support new feature development for RTF templates.
- PPT, CSV and XLS are not created using the OpenXML based file formats and are more difficult to interact with.
- DOC is not a supported template format by Windward.
- Output to HTML, PDF, and the matching OpenXML formats are fully supported to the extent possible for that format.
- PPTX output can only be generated from PPTX templates.
- Crossing formats (like DOCX to XLSX) is strongly discouraged and the generated output will often be a poor match because the file format settings are so different.
Unsupported Features (will not be applied in generated report)
- Tracking Changes
- Proofing marks
- Phonetic markers/guides
Open XML (all formats) Limitations
- Charting limitations
- Embedded objects limitations
- Image (bitmap) limitations
- Shapes & Smart Art limitations
- Output between dissimilar OpenXML formats (such as XLSX to DOCX), Windward will remove the following from the final report.
- Embedded Objects.
Format Specific Limitations
Microsoft Excel XLSX
- See the article Excel Output Limitations
AutoTag cannot be used in a browser-only version of office. When you download 365, you are installing Office 2016 and AutoTag will function normally. Please see our article on MS Office 365, and its limitations.
- Installed Fonts - When generating a PDF document, the system running Windward must have the fonts used in the template installed (this is generally only an issue on Unix based systems. Windows and Mac are fine).
- If the requested font is not installed, the system will use the closest match - and that can be quite a bit different.
- When the system has to substitute a font, it will list the font substitution in the log file.
Tables and Borders
- When drawing lines in Adobe Acrobat (for table and paragraph borders), each line can be joined to the previous line only if the line width and style do not change. This is a PDF limitation, not a Windward restriction. Therefore, in PDF output:
- Table Borders - The outer box around a table is drawn as one line so the outer box will join up. Each inner row and column divider is drawn as a separate line. These inner lines are set to end on the outer box line, but Acrobat cannot be told to join the inner lines to the outer box.
- Line Continuity - If the outer box or inner line changes style or width part-way around, one line ends and another starts. Again, Acrobat does not know these two lines are supposed to be joined and will not draw them contiguously.
- Thick Borders - If borders and lines look thicker when zoomed out on the document, zoom in and you will see the lines are redrawn. When the document is printed it will appear as expected.
Shapes and SmartArt
- Coming soon!
Excel Pivot Tables
- There are no tabs in the HTML language. Tabs are approximated but cannot be matched exactly. We recommend you use tables instead.
- Absolute positioning is not supported. Absolute positioned objects are treated as inline.
- If you are using our engine to generate HTML for emails, we recommend setting
Set the html.html_type property to 1
Set the cssType property in ReportHtml (.NET) and ProcessHtml (Java) to CSS_NO, because Outlook does not support CSS very well.
- We only support a subset of Shapes and Smart Art at this time. This includes but is not limited to pictures and text inside of Shapes and Smart art do not render.
- Printer output is basically the same as PDF output in Windward, except for PDF-specific settings and settings that are not applicable to printed output.
CSV (Comma Separated Value)
- Will only read information in tables in the template. All parts of the template that not in a table are ignored.
- All tables in the template are joined as a single table in the generated report.