A User of autoCrat
March 4, 2017
My use case is a Google Sheet with embedded form which club members use to fill out an event entry form. Autocrat is then used to format their input into a Google Doc which is emailed to them as a PDF attachment. For various reasons they need to print and sign the form and hand it in at the event.
The email is also copied to our events secretary for their records.
Being new to Autocrat I don't have version 2 baggage and so my comments are as a first time user of version 3.0.0. beta.
The main difficulty I encountered was with <<tag>> expansion. Because I'm using a form, the sheet headings are taken from the question, so for example, if your question in the form is labelled "Email Address" then that will be the column heading in the sheet.
If in your document template you set a tag <<email>> you can map the column heading to the tag in the job set-up. But - if you try to use that <<tag>> anywhere other than in the document (say in the document filename or in the email address lines, subject or body) it will NOT be expanded.
After nearly giving up on Autocrat and trying a different plug-in, I went back to Autocrat and changed my tags - so instead of using <<email>>, I used <<Email Address>> - that is, I used EXACTLY the same text in the tag as the sheet.
And my <<tag>> expansion in the email now works.
My expectation was a mapped <<tag>> should work anywhere, so I think this is a bug or "undocumented feature" but there is a simple work-around once you know it.
Second - if you modify your form structure and save it, under some circumstances Autocrat deletes the existing merge job, so you have to build it again.
Not too much of a problem EXCEPT it wipes out your email template as well, and that can be a hassle to rebuild if you haven't saved a copy of it somewhere else.
Again, once you know about this, you can work around it by building your email template separately and then pasting the material into the fields, but it would be good if Autocrat let you save and re-use the email template you build in the interface.
Notwithstanding the above, I'm impressed - I was not looking forward to trying to develop my own code to do this job, and I can see other potential uses for this plug-in.