Looking beyond Exstream to create even more powerful solutions with Exstream

Spendrups is Sweden’s largest brewing company, and a long-time user of StreamServe as part of their company-wide Infor M3 installation. One of Spendrups’ applications needed to create complex document packs and make the individual documents editable for the business user – a project that was carried out together with Doctricks, an Opentext partner.

As part of Spendrups’ digitalization journey, they use M3 data to build modern applications to support the business better. The use case in question, where an application needed to bundle documents and make them editable, seemed a good candidate for Exstream StoryBoard (former Composition Center) and Retouch (former Adhoc). The case was validated with the business through a small proof of concept (POC) solution. Everything worked as expected, and the project got a go-ahead.

Using Storyteller and Storyboard with ReTouch

The document pack to be created included more than ten different and quite complex documents, which were to be bundled in a certain order to a common PDF. The total number of pages could reach well over 100, depending on which documents were included and the specific data provided from M3.

Petrus Näslund, Solutions Architect at Doctricks says that by using the powerful functions of Storyteller and StoryBoard, the team was able to quickly create a theme that could be used to provide an editable document in Retouch.

– The user can then, by the click of a button in the source application, create a document in Exstream and have it opened for edit in Retouch. The document in progress could later be revisited in Retouch by a different user and, when finalized, be created as a PDF and distributed to the final recipient. At the same time, it was also stored in the Exstream Collect archive, says Petrus

New requirements

Initially, everything seemed fine during user acceptance testing, Håkan Wirgart CCM Developer at Spendrups says.

– But, after a couple of weeks of testing, it turned out that what was described in the use case and validated in the POC wasn’t what the business really needed, says Håkan

The real requirement turned out to be:

“We want to be able to edit more or less any text, in any place, in any document. And we also want to be able to include any other external document in any format (Word, Excel, PDF, image) to a position in the final PDF that we can decide.”

It was no longer possible to fulfil the requirements with Retouch. The team initially thought about switching to other modules in the Exstream platform, like Exstream designer, Content Author and Empower. These would handle most of the new requirements. But Spendrups didn’t have these modules licensed – and choosing them would, besides a substantial license investment, mean a shift in development tools. Such a shift would require training for Spendrups internal developers to be able to maintain the solution in the future.

What to do?

– We had already spent time developing the documents and logic in Storyteller and StoryBoard. We asked ourselves if this development could somehow be maintained while providing the required functionality and without investing too much more time and money, says Håkan Wirgart

The team looked at the main purpose again:

“To expose a service in Exstream to an application so that a varying number of documents, using data from M3 and with complex logic, can be created. The business user should have the possibility to edit any content, add new external documents, and decide the internal order of the documents. The result should be one single PDF, distributed to an external recipient over a selected channel and stored in the Exstream Collect Archive.”

Thinking outside the Exstream box

The pain point in the current design was the full editing of created documents – as well as adding new documents.

– So, what if we left Exstream with only the document creation process and had some other tools handle the document editing and the adding of external documents? And if so, what tools could be used for this? – says Håkan

Spendrups, as many corporations today, have Office365 as part of their infrastructure and most business users are familiar with Word for editing documents and Sharepoint for document workflows. Could they be used in this case? Of course they could!

– Exstream has the possibility to output documents as .docx (Word). All that was needed were some minor adjustments to the existing Storyteller processes and a shift of the output driver from PDF to DOCX, and then the documents were fully editable in Word, says Håkan

Storing on Sharepoint

The next step was to have the documents stored on Sharepoint. Exstream provides some excellent functionality for custom integrations, and a small extension was created to handle the upload of documents from Exstream to Sharepoint. With the previous in place, the business now had a possibility to get their complex documents created and fully editable. They could also add any external documents simply by dropping them into the Sharepoint case folder and also handle internal sequence of the documents.

The final step

The final step was providing the possibility to create a combined distributable PDF of all the documents in the Sharepoint case folder and storing it in Exstream Collect.

– We used Microsoft Power Automate to create a flow that is triggered by the user in the source application, and that generates a single PDF from all the finalized documents in Sharepoint. This PDF is stored and indexed in the Collect archive by a call to the Exstream RESTful API, says Håkan

Have fun with Exstream – and don’t be afraid to sometimes look beyond what it provides by itself to get the best solution in place.

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