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Tutorial: Build your first...


Tutorial: Build your first document automation system

Welcome new builder! Let's get you started with the basics: how to set up a document automation system.

A good document automation system consists of three things:

  1. A Workbase: An online spreadsheet to hold all your data.
  2. An intake App: An online form that allows you to collect data directly from clients.
  3. A document automation App: Pull data out of your Workbase and populate a template.
Download template

Part 1: Build a Workbase

Your Workbase is the backbone of your document automation system. It may look like a simple online spreadsheet, but later in this tutorial we'll build Apps that add data to, and pull data from, this Workbase.

After you start your first Workbase, add columns for each piece of data you want to ultimately use in a document automation, e.g. client name, street address, city, etc…

Pay special attention to the left-most column; this is the key column and it's value must be unique.

Part 1: Build a Workbase

Part 2: Build an App for collecting data

What makes a Workbase powerful is that it can integrate with Apps. Let's build your first App: one that populates this Workbase with data directly from clients.

Apps are essentially online forms. Start a new App and take the following steps:

  1. Add questions for each piece of data you want to collect
    You can add Questions to a Question Block. Each Question defines a variable.
  2. Add a 'Send data' function to populate your Workbase
    Add a Final Block and click 'send data' to designate what variables you want to send to each column in your Workbase.
  3. Activate your App
    It's free to build and test Apps, but before you can use an App in a real-world context you must "activate" it. You get one activation for free.
Part 2: Build App for collecting data

Part 3: Build an App for automating the PDF

This App will be similar to the one we just built, except that it will have only 1 block (a Final Block) and it won't ask any questions. Instead, this App just pulls data out of a Workbase and populates a PDF.

  1. Add a Data Source

    You pull data into your App by adding a Data Source. Toggle 'Workbase action' and this App will be available to you direclty in the Workbase.

    Part 3.1: Start document automation App
  2. Create a Word template

    Download our free Word Add-in to quickly build templates that your App can populate. Add conditional logic to go beyond "find and replace."

    Part 3.2: Create Word template

Part 4: 🎉 All done?

Well done! You know everything you need to build a robust document automation system for yourself and your staff. But don't stop now; things are just getting interesting.

We have more learning materials for Workbases and Document Automation:

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