Friday Spotlight: Using data-driven content with Pageflex
Welcome to our very first Friday Spotlight! Every Friday, we'll highlight something interesting or insightful (or both!) about the Liftoff platform. You may even find some tips and tricks for making your Liftoff experience even better!
You already know that Liftoff includes a web-to-print component, powered by Pageflex. You can create custom templates to include variable information of all kinds, rendering each change "on the fly." Your customers can add logos, graphics, addresses, and lots of other unique data to a template on your site.
But what if your template could be even better?
...tomorrow, the world! (or maybe just a database)
The trouble with custom fields in a Pageflex template is that, like so many things in life, they're error-prone. What if a customer enters a misspelled name or address? What if they upload an image of their new puppy insted of their company logo? What if their grammar skills are, let's say, not so good?
Also, wouldn't it be nice to eliminate some of the time consumption and hassle of entering "basic" information each time a template is customized?
What if we told you that you could solve all of these problems with easy-to-use tools that are already included in Liftoff?
The secret sauce is Liftoff's "Records" component, where you'll store data for use in populating your templates.
There are two types of data you can merge with your templates: native system variables and data-driven values.
Native system variables
A native system variable is data that is readily available using variable injection commands. The system variables you'll probably find most useful are user profile information. For example, if you wanted to inject a logged-in user's name into a template, you can simply nest the command @User.Name@ in the inner text of the variable XML element. Example:
<variable order="1" name="ContactName" attributes="" maxLen="50" type="text" caption="Name">@User.Name@</variable>
Here's a list of the current available system variables:
Liftoff incorporates a powerful "database in the cloud" solution we call Records. These tools give you the ability to create customizable data tables for all sorts of purposes, including asset management, list management, contact management, blogs, news feeds, and -- perhaps best of all -- the ability to integrate live data into your web-to-print forms and templates.
Once your user input fields are in place and you've populated some corresponding records, all that remains is mapping the records to the fields. After that, you never have to touch the template again - just change the record! Your customers can't enter bad information or images, everything turns out perfectly, and life is good.
Check out the following tutorial information if you'd like a hand in setting up these tools for yourself:
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with setting up a Liftoff XML descriptor file:
Step 2: Create your data-driven content:
Full video tutorial
Prefer watching over reading? We have that covered, too. Here's a video tutorial aimed at helping you understand the full process behind this powerful new feature.
We hope this Friday Spotlight helps you! Now, you can help us help you on future Fridays by telling us what kinds of things you'd like to see.
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