What is Smart Content?
Smart content is another way to describe content automation. This means combining content (words, pictures, tables, etc.), logic (instructions for the computer on how and when to use the content) and data to create a word processing document. This is what the Smart content app does.
While you can generate other kinds of documents (e.g., HTML) in this way, our focus is on word processing files that help run organizations all over the world. Tag generates *.docx files that can be opened by most word processors.
*NOTE: all files you create (setup, template, and data files) are wholly owned by you and are stored on your local file system. nSymbol and its employees have no access to your files and nothing is ever stored in the cloud. This provides you with a secure way to work with confidential information, and ensures you always have access to the files you create.
Steps to generate a document
1. Define data fields
Data setup files describe all the data fields that can be used in smart content. For example, if you want to run a template based on data about a person, you may want data fields like first name, last name, email, and so forth. Data setup instructions are stored in files that can be hooked up to templates. They are stored outside of templates because you might want to use the same data to drive multiple reports.
This screenshot shows the Data Setup screen displaying data for members of a gym. On the left side you can add, delete or rearrange data fields. On the right side you can add a label for the form or change other field properties.
The Form control dropdown specifies the type of data collected (e.g., checkbox for true/false, decimal box for numbers with decimal points, date picker or dropdown list for a list of values).
2. Create templates that mix content and logic
Now that the data to be collected is defined, it is easy to imagine what a personal information document would look like. You can use tables, images, and formatted text to bring the document to life.
Templates are used to define and organize chunks of content and logic - like keeping a scrapbook of your best reusable work. Templates can be called by other templates, always or just sometimes.
When you create a template file you can attach data setup files to it, so the templates know which data fields to use.
In most cases, a template file is used to generate a word processing document (report), but other file types can be generated as well.
This screenshot shows the Templates word processing area. This sample starts with a paragraph that combines first and last names. It ends with a table that displays other personal information for members of a gym.
The data placeholders (in green) are called logic bubbles and flow within text like small images. Several logic bubbles are available including value-of, if, choose/when, call-template and more. Click on the logic bubble to specify instructions and unleash the power of a programmer without ever needing to write code.
3. Gather data in auto-generated forms
Although setting up customized data and creating reusable templates can be fun, nothing is more satisfying than adding data and clicking the magic wand to generate a document.
Data is stored in a separate file for each report you generate. If you want to capture data for analyses, multiple files can be combined into a CSV (spreadsheet) or copied into a database.
Need to change the data being collected? Don't worry, the old report files won't break. If the data structure changes meaningfully, an option is provided to upgrade older data documents when opened in a form.
Need to pull in data values from another source? We've got you covered with a point-and-click way to map data fields to an external source. And, when data values are linked to knowledge graphs, your power over the computer increases and you are one-step closer to leveraging machine learning and AI to help automate your business even further.
The Forms screen works like a wizard and displays one form for each data setup file. Multiple data setup files may be used in a single report and display as clickable navigation tabs across the top of the screen. In this example, all the fields created earlier show up in the member setup file, and display under a tab called "member".
The form controls chosen during data setup display here and ensure that valid data is gathered. Although some data may be optional, all required fields must be filled out for the tab's border to turn solid green, which means it is ready to generate.
The generate page (magic wand tab on the top left) becomes available when all data tabs are ready.
4. Generate a document which can open in your favorite word processor
Tag's default file format is *.docx (Microsoft Office Open XML document). This format is widely recognized and can be opened in most modern word processors including Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Google Docs, Apache OpenOffice and more.
After specifying a file location to save to, you can generate a document and open it using any word processor that can open *.docx files. You can then edit the document as you normally would - you have simply generated a first draft.
Note that other word processors will see the generated document as regular old "dumb content", and all concepts of data fields, dynamic values and logic will be lost to them. But don't worry, all that data and meaning has been captured by the "smart content" files you created in nSymbol Tag and can always be run again.
The final result is a document that can be edited like any other. If data changes and a new version is needed, one click of a button is all it takes.
With Tag Smart content you can automate your documents. It's free. Try it.
For more details about how smart content works, visit the No-Code page.