Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Does QuickBase care about document generation?

If you still believe in QuickBase Exact Forms and want to create nice documents with its help forget it. It's pretty useless as the practice shows.

I want to test if there is an opportunity to generate documents in QuickBase and I want to check it using very simple invoice.

So this is how it looks like:

QuickBase uses Exact Form to generate documents. It’s a template that is used to put database data into documents like letters and invoices.

You can find it here: Help -> Application Site Map and within the Forms section click the Exact Forms:

It’s a MS Word file with macros for downloading/uploading this template to/from QuickBase:

Unfortunately, QuickBase template doesn’t help in document generation. It means you must erase its content and create the document with MS Word by marking spots for QuickBase to place actual data using field name enclosed by tildes.

Check out the template that I’ve created:

As you can see the control over the look of related detail records is pretty restricted.

After you save the template to QuickBase using "Save to QuickBase" link from Add-Ins tab, in Invoice appears "Print Invoice" link:

To generate your document click the link and here it is:

Well, nothing special… It doesn’t look slick. First of all there is no image on top, second, there is no opportunity to set the look of related detail records and that’s why it looks so poor: the appearance of the document doesn’t correspond to what we’ve created in Word at all.

The reason is while saving your template QuickBase converted it into HTML and this is how it looks as you upload it in Word again for editing:

It has nothing in common with what I’ve created first, doesn’t it?


If you pursue the aim to generate a nice document in QuickBase don’t waste your time on Exact Form, it’s a hopeless case. To my opinion for getting a nice document as you need it in QuickBase its better to code it using QuickBase API, HTML and JavaScript. The question is if you are capable of accomplishing this by yourself and if you want to. Everybody decides for himself.


  1. Exact Forms definitely has its limitations when trying to generate "nicely" formatted documents; As QB developers, some of our clients asked us if there was something we could do to pick up where Exact Forms falls short. So we developed a utility that can generate Word and/or PDF documents; No macros to install, use your locally installed version of word to build your template. You can use word headers and footers and logos-images(without having to upload them to quickbase). We provide more control over related table data as well, you can size the columns in your table, control the font size and format and more...
    The generated document can be stored in a file attachment field in your QuickBase table or in an Amazon S3 Bucket.
    We've created a demo QuickBase so you can see how this works.

    Keith Jusas
    Juiced Technologies, Inc.

  2. Yes, the utility really looks good and definitely is of better use than standard Exact Forms.

    One point I wanted to clarify. Is there a possibility to insert images in detail table?

    Can you disclose the price of Exact Form Plus usage?

  3. Images from a detail table cannot currently be displayed. At the master table they can but not at the detail just yet. That enhancement is due out by the end of the 3rd Quarter.
    - we charge a one time setup charge of $250. This includes adding a table to you QB application to store the document templates, adding the formula URL field to your table to execute Exact Forms Plus! and we help you setup your first document template.
    - we charge a monthly hosting fee of $25/mth if you have a Standard Quickbase Workgroup Account and $50/mth if you have an Enterprise Quickbase Account.


  4. Follow up...
    With our latest release you can now insert images into the detail tables of a document. The images can be stored in a file attachment field or they can be referenced within a formula text field by using the "IMG" tag.

    btw, Intuit will be hosting a webinar on Thursday Nov 19th @ 2:00pm EST and I will be demonstrating our Document Generation tool, Exact Forms Plus!