Content Generation is a term that has been used to describe the various practices within an organization that result in any type of content, including email, text messages, video files, graphics files, office suite files, etc. Content generation technologies might include anything from mobile devices to office suite applications.
Content Generation and ECM
While it may seem like a logical fit, content generation technologies have traditionally fallen outside the Enterprise Content Management space (ECM), primarily because ECM vendors tend to focus on the profiling, processing, storage, and retrieval of the various types of content, rather than on the methodologies by which such content gets generated.
An Expanding Definition
Gartner has recently begun including content generation as one of its subsets of ECM technologies, an evolution of the definition that may be driven by document generation (document assembly) technologies designed specifically to generate complex, rule-based documents and forms based on fact patterns related to a transaction. In fact, in a recent market trends report, Gartner named HotDocs (the long-time leader in the document generation market) a “best of breed” vendor for document generation, which it now considers a niche within the broader ECM market.
What is Document Generation?
Document Generation (also known as document automation, document creation, or document assembly) software allows you to transform text-based documents (typically, word-processing files) and PDF forms into templates. A document generation template produces custom, transaction-ready documents from an interactive interview (a sequence of question-and-answer forms). Such dynamic templates not only reduce the time it takes to create a new, transactional document, but they also improve the quality of the document by eliminating the human errors that tend to result with a hands-on-editing approach.
How are document generation templates developed?
Different vendors use different approaches. HotDocs provides a tool set that works inside your word processor, enabling you to embed simple variables, computed variables, and business logic of any complexity in the document, in fact, transforming the document into a template. Note that HotDocs provides a separate environment for automating PDF forms (graphical forms having fields and check boxes).
HotDocs then allows you to use the variables and business logic from the document in the construction of an interview (a sequence of interactive data-gathering forms). An interview is the part of a HotDocs template that users see and interact with and can be used to ensure that documents get generated correctly. Individual fields within an interview can be validated for range, and sophisticated, interactive help resources can be attached to specific fields.
HotDocs templates can be deployed in any environment (desktop, on-premise client server, or cloud) and can run in any standards-compliant browser on any device. HotDocs Cloud Services, a unique Document-Generation-Platform-as-a-Service technology (DGPaas), allows 3rd parties to embed the HotDocs process engine in web applications and web pages on a subscription basis. HotDocs Cloud Services allows deep data integration between applications, enabling data from existing storage technologies to flow into HotDocs interviews and additional data gathered by the interview to be written back out to enterprise storage.