Have you been wondering how to create your own documents with Mendix? This reference will tell you how to do it!
With Mendix, you can generate documents in different ways. Here, you will learn the fundamentals of generating a document from your own application.
Before we start, we recommend you first read the following two pages:
2 Knowing Your Document
Before you start producing a document with Mendix, it is advisable to make a draft version of the document you want to produce. You can sketch something on a piece of paper or ask your customer to provide you with an example. Either way, it is good to have in mind what you want to achieve.
Using your desired document, you can choose a strategy for producing it. Mendix offers numerous options for producing documents using the out-of-the-box document template functionality, but you may find that the Mendix features are not sufficient to generate your document. Don’t worry. For alternative ways of producing documents with Mendix, see 5 Alternative Ways of Creating Documents.
For our example, we’ve concluded that the Mendix functionality does suffice. So, let’s have a look at how this works with an example.
3 Business Case
In this application, customers can purchase products. They will do so by creating orders and selecting the products they want to purchase. To be able to present the customer with an overview of their order, a PDF will be created and sent to the customer as an attachment to their confirmation email. The order should show the customer details, the logo of the company, the products with their price, and the total value of the order.
4 Generating a Document with Out-of-the-Box Mendix Functionality
4.1 Domain Model
The domain model for this application looks like this:
The Customer holds the address information and the preferred communication language. The Order owns the date and sum of all the order lines. The OrderLine entity has the customer-specific price for a Product. Because you want to generate a document, the OrderDocument entity has been added. This entity inherits from the System.FileDocument entity.
Do not use the System.FileDocument entity directly, because you have no control over the security of that part from the System module.
Now the domain model has been set up, you are ready to create the microflow for your new generate document function.
Create a new folder to organize all the order document creation related sources:
Now you need a microflow to handle the creation of the document:
The microflow consists of just the default start and endpoint at present:
After creating the microflow, decide what information you would like to use in the document. Let’s start with an order as input. Later on, you can retrieve additional data via the order instance.
When you create microflows, it is a best practice to limit the number of input parameters to promote reuse.
Here is the input parameter:
In the next step, you will create a new OrderDocument. This object will store the actual document. Set the reference to the Order object and the name of the document:
Now you need to have a Language object. In our case, the Customer is associated with the preferred communication language. In our microflow example, you first retrieve the Customer via the Order, and then retrieve the Language from that Customer:
The next step is to use the Generate document activity. Within this activity, you can use the available objects and select the document template to create the document. However, the document template does not exist yet, so you need to create it and place it in your folder:
This is the document template configuration:
Based on the changes you make to the selected template, the arguments will change.
The Generate document activity has been added:
After you have configured the general settings of the document template, you do not need a separate commit for NewOrderDocument. This entity is automatically committed via the document template activity.
Now that you have set up the Generate document configuration, you can configure the template itself.
Make sure to set the correct entity access for entities and their attributes used in the document template. Read access is a must for those attributes that are shown in the template. Here is a Customer entity that is configured to Read, Write for the User module role:
4.3 Document Template
In this example, the following document template is available:
In this document template, you start with a data view containing the order details. From this order, you can get the customer information and, from the order lines, the information about the purchased products.
The data view makes use of tables, table cells, labels, pictures, line breaks, and a template grid to compose the document.
Now that you have created the document template, you can see that there is an error in the error dock:
To resolve this error, open the Generate document activity of the microflow. When the activity is opened, the parameter mapping will be updated and allocated to the mapping parameter.
Now, your Generate document configuration should look like this:
The document template is now configured, and the microflow is ready to be used. If we call this microflow as a sub-microflow, you can add a download activity in the main microflow. This microflow could do the following:
- Call the sub-microflow to create the document
- Retrieve the created document
- Download the file
This is the resulting document:
In this example, you retrieved the OrderLine information via the Entity (path) data source. An alternative way of doing this would be to use a microflow that returns objects for the list presentation. If you do this, make sure to add the correct user role(s) to the microflows that are being used as data source microflows within the document template.
5 Alternative Ways of Creating Documents
In addition to out-of-the-box Mendix functions, there are two other ways of generating documents with your Mendix app.
5.1 App Store Modules
5.1.1 Document Generation for Mendix
The Document Generation for Mendix module is available in the Mendix App Store for your use.
For more information on this way of working, see Document Generation for Mendix, Finally.
5.1.2 Templator - Document (PDF) Generation Alternative
Also available in the Mendix App Store, the Templator - Document (PDF) Generation Alternative module lets you generate PDF files using standard Mendix components. Because normal pages are used to generate the documents, all styling (for example, with rounded corners) as well as core and App Store widgets (for example, charts) are supported out of the box.
For more information on this way of working, see Templator.
5.2 Java API
The other way to generate documents is via a Java API called IText. This Java library is free to use.
For more information on this way of working, see iText Developers.