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Troubleshooting & FAQs

Can I use Word/Excel 2003?

No. We support .DOCX and .XLSX files only which means that Office 2003 formats (.doc and .xls) are not supported. Note that we also do not support Word .dotx files and .xlsm (these are special Word/Excel templating files).

Can I reduce the file size of the generated PDF/Word/Excel? Why is the file size of my generated PDF file bigger than if I used "Save As PDF" direct from Word/Excel?

Our PDF generation is done using a 3rd-party component, and so we don't have any clear reason for why the file size is bigger. The only suggestion we can make is that any static embedded images in the template should be explicitly compressed. This can be done in Word by following the steps outlined at the link below:

Ultimately, every generation component is different in terms of how it converts the Word document contents. It's possible that our component will generate smaller files than the other programs given a different source Word/Excel file.

Can I use XLSX or DOCX files created in Open Office as data templates? Can I use Open Office to open XLSX or DOCX files generated by the platform?

Currently we only support Microsoft Office tools - specifically Word and Excel. This applies to the XLSX and DOCX files uploaded as templates as well as any XLSX or DOCX files generated by the platform. Open Office and other such Office alternatives are not officially supported, though you may find these tools work in certain situations. However, any (likely) issues you encounter due to your use of a non-Office tool will not receive any support from us.

My generated docx output does not open in Word, giving errors such as "unreadable content" or "file is corrupt and cannot be opened."

The issue is likely due to the docx template being used in your Word data template. Usually this means that your Word doc is linked under the hood to an inaccessible dotx file (usually located on your personal PC or on a network drive). Now this docx file is obviously not available to the Forms on Fire platform when it generates the file and naturally is not found when you open the Word output file on another machine. What you need to do is clear the dotx template of your Word file, which will let the Word file default to the standard "Normal" dotx template. Follow the steps below to clear the problem dotx template:

  1. Display the Developer tab in the Word ribbon and navigate to the Developer tab.
  2. Click the Document Template tool. Word displays the Templates and Add-Ins dialog box.
  3. Clear whatever text is found in the Document Template field (even if it says "Normal").
  4. Click the OK button to reset the Word doc to have no required/attached dotx.
  5. Close the dialog and save your Word template

When opening my generated xlsx output in Excel, I get errors such as "Excel found unreadable content. Do you want to recover the contents of this workbook?"

The issue is likely due to the placement of static images within repeatstart and repeatend tags in your Excel data template. In most cases, the images have not been located and formatted correctly within a cell or cell range. Follow the steps below to correct the placement of static images within your repeat sections:

  1. Remove the static image from the repeatstart section (ensure you have made a backup first).
  2. Un-merge any merged cells where the image was placed
  3. Select a single cell where you would like the image to be placed and then Insert the image.
  4. Once the image has been inserted, right click on the image and select Format Picture. Then check Move and size with cells.
  5. You can then merge and re-size the cells behind the image as required.
  6. Save and re-upload your excel template.

Why does my Excel template generate PDF outputs that have bits cut off / missing?

There are several possible causes for this, but a common reason is you have specified a custom page area in your Excel template file which cuts off your generated contents. Our PDF renderer will obey your defined printable page area, excluding any content outside the defined page.

To diagnose this as the problem:

  1. Open your template in Excel.
  2. Turn on the Page Break Preview by going to View -> Page Break Preview. This will put solid blue lines around your defined page area. You may want to unhide any hidden columns this fully.
  3. Notice where the solid blue lines outline, and more importantly check to see if any part of your content or placeholder statements are outside the defined blue box. If so, then this is the likely cause of your issue.
  4. To fix an incorrectly defined page or print area, simply update your template Excel file to clear this defined page area. Do this by going to Page Layout -> Print Area -> Clear Print Area.
  5. Save your fixed template and upload it to our platform: your subsequent PDF outputs should generate as expected thereafter.

Avoiding Cut-Off of Repeating Sections

With repeating sections that contain images in your report output, it can be difficult to prevent images being cut over pages, mainly because the images could be landscape or portrait in orientation. This variability means it is difficult to predict the height of the incoming images. The best option is to ensure that the chosen cell height you assign to the image fields are a factor of the page height. E.g., ensure that, say, twice image cell height adds up to exactly the typical printed page height. This way, if you had 3 rows of images, then 2 rows would fit into the first page exactly and the 3rd row would go onto the next page without any image cut-off.

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