Windward Studios Review

Allows our clients to maintain templates directly, but upgrades sometimes break elements

What is our primary use case?

Generating PDF documents as well as Excel and Word documents, between 20 and 40 templates. The content of these documents is mainly for producing insurance quotes, policy, and claims documents. Data source is XML.

How has it helped my organization?

It means we can let our clients maintain the templates directly, without our involvement. Previously, it was very messy and clients were not happy with the costs of maintaining and updating templates.

What is most valuable?

Managing templates through MS Word, as non technical users can manage output.

Also, it is very important from a sales point of view for users to have design and layout control, as our clients don’t want to be locked into relying on technical staff to do changes.

What needs improvement?

It needs better support for upgrades and more control over layout of elements.  Upgrades tend to break existing output. Elements do not position where expected due to insertion of blank lines and page breaks. It takes time to fix these through trial and error.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Sometimes, but very rare.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?


Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used our own solution based on iText but wanted something easier for non-developers to use.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was in between straightforward and complex. We had to do quite a bit of work to migrate all templates into Windward format and to build an admin panel to let our clients access the templates to update them.

The main issues were because our clients' own Word templates, that they had been using for manual PDF generation, were not very well set up. For example, inconsistent use of styles, mixed use of tabs and spaces to line up elements, and in some cases, including massive images.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

iText and Jaspersoft.

What other advice do I have?

We were looking for generation to average three to five seconds. Our main requirements, though, were being able to have non-developers create templates and generate Word and PDF formats.

To others who are looking into implementing Windward, the main advice would be to really simplify and clean up your Word templates first.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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1 Comment

author avatarCEO/founder with 11-50 employees

Thank you for the nice review you wrote.

And your comment that an upgrade means the layout can change slightly is spot on. Microsoft does not document how Word lays out a document (it does not follow the DOCX spec exactly). So we are constantly working to improve and more closely match Word.

And improving the layout to more closely match Word means the layout changes. It changes for the better, but a change is a change.

And as Word keeps changing how it lays a document out (we have seen tables and textboxes move inches between different versions of Word), unfortunately as we evolve to match those changes, you will continue to see those differences.

Your advice at the end of your review was perfect - if you create clean templates, that follow our design guidelines, then you should not have any problems around this. It's in the complex layout where the DOCX spec is silent and Word can change substantially in a service pack, where this will bite you.

Again thank you for your nice review.