Importing HotDocs 11.x Templates into HotDocs Author

This document contains a section for every feature from HotDocs 11.x that might not import or work as expected as well as a full explanation as to why and any recommended actions you could take to correct the issue.

Clause Components, Clause Archives, and Clause Libraries

Clauses are independent sections of text in a template that may or may not need to be included in an assembled document. In previous versions of HotDocs, you could designate sections of text as clause components using the Clause Editor, which would be organized in a clause library, stored in a clause archive, and inserted into a template using the INSERT Clause Library Instruction.


Templates that contain clause components, clause archives, and clause libraries are not currently supported for import. There are technical limitations that made clauses and clause libraries not compatible with HotDocs Server.

Recommended Actions

Remove clause component from template before import. To remove clause components in HotDocs Developer 11, go to Component Manager > Components drop-down list > Clauses.

Before deleting any clauses, you should first consider preserving the clause text itself by opening the Clause Editor and clicking the Edit Clause Text button.

Curly Braces in Component Names

Earlier versions of HotDocs had different conventions for what was allowed in component names. HotDocs Author does not support curly braces in component names and replaces curly braces on import.


HotDocs Author is reclaiming the curly brace { and } for use in the HotDocs scripting language; therefore, we no longer support a curly brace as a valid character in a component name (with the exception of the first character in a dialog element component name).

If a curly brace is the first character in a dialog element component name:

  • HotDocs replaces the curly brace with an epsilon (ε) and then imports the component

When renaming a component, HotDocs makes sure to use a name that doesn’t exist in the current component file. For example, if you import a dialog element called {abc and there is already a component named εabc, HotDocs uses the next available Greek character.

  • If the dialog element component is a Text dialog element:
    • HotDocs replaces the curly brace with an epsilon and update any dialog content lists and dialog scripts referring to the dialog element
    • HotDocs will NOT update other scripts that refer to the component – in this case the template displays any errors you must fix

Recommended Actions

Using your earlier version of HotDocs, rename the components containing curly braces before attempting to import the template into Author.

Database Components

A database component defines a link between a HotDocs component file and set of data in a database external to HotDocs.


Templates that contain database components are not currently supported for import. Database components as they exist in HotDocs Developer 11 require both template authors and template users to have access (and permissions) to the database, which presents a technical challenge for any cloud-based platform such as HotDocs Advance.

Recommended Actions

Remove database component from template before import.

Lengthy Template Names

Templates with names and workspace file paths that exceed Windows' 259-character limit will not import.


Windows imposes a maximum filename length such that a filename, including the file path to get to the file, can't exceed 259 characters. This 259-character limit is most commonly exceeded due to a deeply nested workspace folder location.

Recommended Actions

You can ensure your template name and workspace file path does not exceed the Windows' 259-character limit in one or more of the following ways:

  • Using File Explorer, move the location where the workspace is stored on your hard drive to a location with a shorter file path (with fewer nested folders). For example, you could move the workspace from a customized deeply nested location back to the default location C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Documents\HotDocs Author\<Workspace Name> or from the default workspace location to C:\<Workspace Name>.
  • Using File Explorer, shorten the name of the Author workspace (or any other folder names in the file path) before attempting to import.
  • Use Template Manager in HotDocs Developer 11 to shorten the template file name before attempting to import.

If the template you rename is inserted or assembled in other templates, you will also need to update the template name in those templates.

Component File Security Settings

HotDocs Developer 11 enabled, as part of the process of publishing a template using the Publishing Wizard, template authors to apply component file security settings such as component file lock, registration, expiration date, and password protection to a template. These component file security settings enabled a template author to protect the resulting "published" templates from being edited outside of the parameters established by the security settings.


HotDocs Author does not support importing published templates that contain component file security settings. The intent of publishing a template with these settings applied is to prevent unauthorized users from editing the resulting template and Author will honor the intent of the original template author.

Recommended Actions

Locate the original, unpublished version of the template and attempt your import again. If you do not have access to the unpublished version of the template, you cannot import this template.

Unsupported Template Formats

HotDocs Author supports importing a specific set of template formats.


You are attempting to import a template that is either:

  • Not currently supported for import (.hpt templates).
  • A template that requires conversion to an Author-compatible template before it can be imported (.hft, WordPerfect, .rtf, and .doc).
  • A file that is not a HotDocs template.

Recommended Actions

The recommended actions depends on which unsupported template format you are trying to import:

  • WordPerfect, .rtf, and .doc - Using HotDocs Developer 11's Template Manager, convert the template to work with Developer 11 and convert the template to DOCX format.
  • .htp and .hft templates - Support for .hpt templates (and therefore .hft templates via conversion using Developer 11) may be introduced in the future. Therefore, if you rely on .hpt templates, you should continue using HotDocs Developer until Author support for .hpt templates is introduced.
  • Non-HotDocs template files - The template import feature has no use for non-templates.

Multiple Choice Variables

Multiple Choice variables currently still work in Author, but cannot be created or edited. We recommend that you create Single Select and Multi Select variables to replace Multiple Choice variables.


Single Select and Multi Select variables are a new set of components designed to be an improvement for and to replace Multiple Choice variables. Single Select and Multi Select variables feature a number of improvements when compared to Multiple Choice variables and are also designed to better handle future planned enhancements.

Currently, the Multiple Choice variable property "Automatically select this option if variable is unanswered" does not have an equivalent property in Single Select or Multi Select variables. To achieve the same functionality, use HotDocs Scripting.

Recommended Actions

Multiple Choice variables still work in templates and interviews, so no current action is necessary. However, to prepare for the upcoming necessity to convert Multiple Choice variables to Single Select or Multi Select variables, you should learn about the new variables.


ASK ALL, ASK DEFAULT, ASK NONE, and ASK UNANSWERED are a related set of instructions in HotDocs Developer 11 that are intended manipulate or change the "ASK Mode." These instructions are permanently deprecated and, on import, are commented out (retained in the template with their functionality removed).


ASK Mode presented unnecessary complexity to the process of creating a template, and was difficult for new users to understand and for experienced users to maintain. The feature also caused issues with debugging and support. Since you can now achieve the same functionality by using the ASK automatically flag and the ASK instruction, these problematic instructions have been permanently deprecated and are commented out when imported into Author.

Recommended Actions

Test your template in Author to see if your interview presents the dialogs in the order you want. If there is a dialog displaying incorrectly, right click on the text of a question in the interview (or the area surrounding the text) and select Edit Component. In the Behavior tab, click the box for the Ask automatically property, and re-test your template. For instances where you do want to ask a specific dialog, use the ASK instruction.

Personal Information Variables (MY instruction)

Personal information variables enabled HotDocs to look up information stored in the Windows registry (instead of the answer file) in order to reuse that data on any template accessed from that specific computer.


Personal information variables rely on the Windows registry, which cannot be accessed from web-based applications. The presence of personal information variables in a template will not be reported in the import report, but will require attention in the template after import.

Recommended Actions

Replace personal information variables with a regular variable.

SET or DEFAULT Instructions for a Number Variable with a Value in Quotation Marks

The SET and DEFAULT instructions both assign answer values to variables. When using these instructions for a Number variable, some users mistakenly put quotations marks around the value. Earlier versions of HotDocs allowed this syntax. In Author, any instances of SET or DEFAULT instructions constructed in this manner will require attention in the template after import.


Using SET or DEFAULT instructions for a Number variable with a text value is incorrect syntax that, in some circumstances, led to errors in HotDocs interviews. HotDocs Author no longer accepts this type of incorrect syntax as valid.

Recommended Actions

Remove the quotation marks in the value.


DLLCALL, EXECUTE, and INIKEY instructions were unofficial, undocumented features that enabled HotDocs to interact with programs or files on your local file system. The END Instruction, also unofficial and undocumented, was a valid substitute/shortcut for END IF. Any instances of these instructions will require attention in the template after import.


These unofficial features, to the limited extent they were used, cannot be implemented in web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance due to technical limitations and security concerns.

Recommended Actions

For DLLCALL, EXECUTE, and INIKEY, remove these instructions from your template to remove the errors caused by the presence of these deprecated instructions. If you cannot rework your template to not need these instructions, you may consider utilizing other software alongside HotDocs in a different way.

For END instructions, find each instance of the instruction in your template and add IF to the instruction text.


Span Components

A component used to mark a region of the template and enable it to be modified by the template user using the document preview feature. Span components are removed on import (with content between the open and close span tags preserved).


Implementing the functionality of a span component in a web-based application such as HotDocs Advance would require major effort and has not been prioritized at this time.

Recommended Actions

Design your template in a way that does not rely on granting your user editorial control of the assembled document.

Application Link Dialog Elements

An application link dialog element was a component that enabled you to place a button or link on a dialog in an interview that would enable the template user to open an application on a local file system. All application link dialog elements are converted to text dialog elements on import.


This feature cannot be implemented in web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance due to technical limitations and security concerns.

Recommended Actions

Remove the text dialog element that the application link dialog elements was converted to. Consider using a link to a web-based app you might use instead.

Answer sources and OMIT and CONCEAL Instructions

An answer source is an answer file linked to a specific dialog in the interview that enables the user select a row of data to populate variables on the dialog. OMIT and CONCEAL are instructions used exclusively when working with answer sources. Answer sources are removed from the template on import; OMIT and CONCEAL instructions are commented out (retained in the template with their functionality removed).  


The functionality that answer sources provided, the flexible selection of data from other sources, requires additional effort to enable it to work on web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance.

Recommended Actions

You can manually type the answers into the interview.

ASSEMBLE Instructions with Command Line Options

An ASSEMBLE instruction enables you to launch another assembly as part of an assembly session. Command line options could be added to these instructions that could alter the operation of specific templates, or affect the overall operation of HotDocs. Command line options other than /nw and /naw are removed on import (/nw and /naw are modified to /ni to allow for proper function).


The desired functionality provided by ASSEMBLE instructions with command line options are not typically relevant in web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance. However, /nw and /naw, are modified to /ni (which will suppress the interview, as expected).

Recommended Actions

Adapt your template so that you do not rely on assemble instructions with command line options.

HTML Help, Windows Help, Folio InfoBase and Custom Program Resources

Previous versions of HotDocs could integrate text from HTML Help, Windows Help, and Folio InfoBases as resources that the template user could read to help them answer question in an interview. These legacy resources have been permanently deprecated and are removed on import.


These obsolete resources relied on being stored on your local computer and cannot be implemented in web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance. Author's Additional Information feature provides the same functionality.

Recommended Actions

You can make any content formerly contained in the obsolete resources available to template users during an interview using Author's Additional Information feature by:

PLAY Instruction and Move to the "TypeHere" Bookmark Property

The PLAY instruction and move to the TypeHere bookmark property are both features that relied on Microsoft Word that influenced what happened after a document was assembled. These features have been permanently deprecated and are removed on import.


Due to the reliance of these features on Microsoft Word, they cannot be implemented in web-based applications such as HotDocs Advance.

Recommended Actions

Adapt your template so that you do not rely on these post-assembly features.

Computations with No Result Type

In HotDocs Developer 11, the result type of a computation was inferred from the script itself. In order to ensure compatibility with HotDocs Author, when a computation is imported, HotDocs will analyze and assign a result type to all computations. If a result type for a given computation cannot be determined to be a text, number, date or true/false type, you will be alerted in the import report that its result type has been set to none.

If there is an error in the computation, the result type will default to text.


Inferring the result type of a computations, in some cases, led to errors in previous versions of HotDocs. To remedy such errors, Author now requires you to set a computations result type.

Recommended Actions

Verify that the computations that have had their result type set to none are OK.

"Row-based" Repeats Without END REPEAT Field

In previous versions of HotDocs, you could create row-based repeats by removing the END REPEAT field from the table row. HotDocs now modifies row-based repeats to include END REPEAT field at import.


Row-based repeats without END REPEAT fields sometimes led to errors in previous versions of HotDocs. To remedy such errors, in text-based templates, Author now requires you to include a matching END REPEAT field.

Recommended Actions

Review the automatic placement of the END REPEAT field to see if its correct.

DOCX templates that contain double opening chevron characters (“««”)

HotDocs Developer 11 reserved the chevron symbol as a field delimiter. However, some users needed to be able to use chevrons in the body of their templates. In order to facilitate this, users could add double chevrons to the body of their template (which resulted in a single chevron being displayed in the assembled document).


DOCX templates that contain double opening chevron characters (“««”) will have the second chevron removed at import (since the intention of a double chevron was to enable a single chevron to display in the assembled document).

Recommended Actions

Verify that the purpose of the double chevron in your template was to display a single chevron in the assembled document.

Templates that Rely on the Smart Return Feature of HotDocs Developer 11

Smart return enabled you to take out the hard return following the removal of a HotDocs field. Templates with this feature are modified on import.


The Smart Return feature is no longer necessary, as the removal of a HotDocs field from a template no longer requires removing a hard return.

You may notice other differences in the way fields (and the paragraph breaks that follow them) are handled during template editing and document assembly in HotDocs Author.

Recommended Actions

Inspect your newly imported document and see if it is formatted correctly (look for the presence of unwanted extra paragraphs or merged paragraphs).