Generate DOC and PDF documents from application data store using API

Commugen is a software company that develops a platform that enables non-programmers to build web-based applications.

Solutions based on the platform serve leading Israeli companies, mainly in the financial and government sectors. They include solutions for e.g. governance, risk management and compliance.

Problem

Commugen developed an ASP.NET web application. It enables modeling data structures and relationships between structures. After modeling, the application generates an input interface that enables the gathering of data throughout the organization. The data is then displayed for analysis and task generation in reports and dashboards. Most of our customers need to export the data from these reports and dashboards to a Word or a PDF document.

Commugen is an Israeli based company, so there was also a mandatory need for a good multi-lingual support, including Right-To-Left texts.

We thought going to the source, Microsoft, is a good idea. Therefore, we implemented a Word generation mechanism using MS Word on the server. Then used MS Word automation to generate the DOC and PDF files.

However, this mechanism had significant stability problems. It could not work in production for a significant amount of time without breaking and needing a human intervention for restart.

Solution

We searched for an alternative to the Word automation. We read about Aspose, and looked at the website. We were happy to see that Word manipulation was just a part of the Aspose offering. As we encounter new customer demands all the time, we thought that a product that is expandable to solving other problems is a right fit for us.

We tried working with the trial version of the library. We found it was straightforward to incorporate it into our .Net code. Commugen now generates DOC and PDF documents from its application data store using Aspose.Words for .NET. It works perfectly for us and for our customers, as it merges the customer templates with the application content to create a document. The solution is stable and it works fast. In all contexts so far, Aspose.Words generates the desired document like expected.

Figures 1 & 2 below show an example of Aspose.Words usage in a Commugen application.

A Supply Chain Risk Management application, which generates a report, as a final stage after risk assessment.
A sample of the generated PDF report from the Supply Chain Risk Management solution above.

Experience

Commugen’s applications manage data. Sometimes the data needs to be moved “offline”, e.g. to people who do not have access to the application. Thus, it needs to export and distribute it in different formats and contexts. Some of these formats need to be human-readable such as in Word and PDF.

Aspose.Words does not require online authentication or processing. It is thus appropriate for our customers who mainly use it in an on-premise configuration. For our customers, it is a seamless experience, integrated in our solution. All in all Aspose.Words was easy to try, buy, install and use.

Next Steps

We are very satisfied with Aspose.Words so we plan to expand the use of Aspose solutions to other problems we face.

We are examining the Aspose.Email solution. We need to read and parse e-mail, and get them into our application data store. We found that getting attachments from e-mails was particularly difficult to accomplish. We tried Aspose.Mail, and it handled flawlessly.

We are also thinking Aspose.Cells to use for the import of Excel file content to the application data store, to replace our current solution. We found it was fast and reliable.

Summary

We believe that a software company like ours needs to focus on its core product. To develop faster and be competitive you need significant libraries to delegate some of the R&D to them. We found in Aspose to be a great solution to fit this theory. Aspose also provides a wide range solution. It is easier for us to wotk with one reliable provider for a range of needs we seem to encounter on the journey of developing software.

Vladimir Tyomin,
CTO, Commugen

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