HotDocs Author Workflow Overview

HotDocs Author is the software application you use to create HotDocs templates from any of your textual documents. For example, you can transform an existing document into a template by replacing changeable text in the document (text that varies from client to client, such as names, dates, and institutions) with placeholders.  


Using placeholders for changeable data enables you to create templates for generating a wide variety of custom documents such as contracts, wills, mortgages, insurance claims, etc.

Once you create a HotDocs template, you upload your template to HotDocs Advance, where your template user can create any number of custom documents from it. Advance presents an interview that asks your template user for the information your template requires. Once your template user completes the interview, HotDocs Advance replaces the placeholders in your template with that information to assemble a final, customized document for your end user or client.

The basic workflow encompasses all the steps in the image below. This image typically appears at the top of each help topic that helps you through the workflow. So you can tell where that topic fits in the workflow, the blue text and circle provide a sort of "you are here" indicator on the map. By comparing that image with the location in the TOC, we hope you are able to more easily navigate your way through the documentation and its explanation of the workflow.

HotDocs Author WorkflowCreate a template Add placeholders Group variables in dialogs Create regions and rules Customize an interview Upload a template

Common Tasks

The Author workflow includes a wide variety of tasks. Some of the most common include:

Template Development Workflow

In HotDocs Author, there is a clear workflow to enable you to successfully turn your existing working documents into templates. HotDocs uses these templates to generate documents customized to the needs of your individual clients and template users. The recommended workflow is:

  1. Begin a new project
  2. Create a workspace
  3. Create a template
  4. Add placeholders
  5. Group variables in dialogs
  6. Create regions and rules (optional, but most likely)
  1. Test a template – occurs repeatedly, as you build your template
  2. Upload a template

Begin a New Project

Before you can begin a new project, you should plan your project to ensure you approach your task in an organized way.

Create a Workspace

Once you plan your project, before you can create your first template, you need to open Workspace Explorer, and create a new workspace or open an existing workspace to host that template.

Create a HotDocs Template

Once you create a workspace to host the templates in your project, you can create a template based on an existing document, or you can create a new template "from scratch."

Add Placeholder Fields

What makes HotDocs able to generate innumerable customized documents from a single template is the use of HotDocs Fields called placeholder fields that take the place of the changeable data in your template. In HotDocs, these placeholder fields point to template building blocks called components. The components you use most frequently for creating placeholders are variables.

The most common way you create a variable is to select some changeable text in your template, and then add a placeholder field for a variable. Your choices for variables include:

Group Variables in Dialogs

Once you create variables in the previous step, you can then organize the variables by grouping them in dialogs. Dialogs are components which control how variables are presented to the template user in your template's interview.

The most common steps to create and populate the contents of a dialog are:

Test a Template

At any time during your template authoring, you can click test to generate an interview so you can gather answers and then assemble a final document..

Create Regions and Rules

Depending on the need you have to add rules of behavior to create a conditional region, or create a repeated region (to create a list), you can add these rules by creating a HotDocs script to govern the behavior of your template.

Maybe rephrase this to say "depending on your need..."

Manage Components

Once you create a placeholder in HotDocs, if you need to change any properties or otherwise manage these components, you can do so by first, opening Component Studio, which is the how you access the editors for each of these placeholders.

I would put this phrase after "if you need to change any properties or otherwise manage these components" and change "once you" to "after"

Create a Script

HotDocs scripts enable you to create a set of directions that tell HotDocs to perform an action or calculation. Scripts are comprised of one or more of the instructions and/or expressions defined in the HotDocs scripting language. For example, you could create a script to total up a range of numbers or re-format a text value.

The most common steps for creating a script in your template are:

Customize an Interview

When you create a template, HotDocs uses a set of rules to define a default interview that presents the placeholders in your template as questions in the interview that enable you to gather information from your template users. Using this data, HotDocs can then assemble a new document by replacing the placeholders in your template with the answers provided by your template users. HotDocs then combines these answers with the non-changing information in your template to produce a new document.

If you want, you can create a customized interview that asks questions in the order you want them answered. This enables you to use answers to one question to pre-populate another question, or to present different questions depending on the answer to an initial question.

Upload a Template

When you are happy with your template, and you are ready for your template users to use your template to create their customized documents, you need to add an upload destination to your workspace; then upload your template to HotDocs Advance.