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Getting Started

About templates and merge fields

A WordWriter template is a Microsoft Word file that contains merge fields. A merge field displays a data source field (for example, a database column name). A merge field is created in Microsoft Word and bound in code to a data source. The data source may be an array, a DataSet, a DataTable, or a DataReader. When you run the code, WordWriter populates the merge fields with data source values. A template may contain multiple sets of merge fields. Each set of fields binds to a single data source. 

Merge field syntax

  • The general syntax is: DataSource.ColumnName
  • Ordinal syntax (i.e. #1.#2 for source one, column two) can also be used
  • Data source and column names must not include Unicode characters.
  • Data source and column names must begin with a letter (A-Z, a-z).
  • Data source and column names may include the following characters only:


    If you assigned a different data source separator, you can also use a "." in your data source and column names.

  • Spaces are not allowed anywhere in a merge field.

Use brackets if your column name does not conform to these rules
The exception of these rules is when a column name is enclosed in brackets (for example, «Products.[Product Category]» . To include spaces or unicode characters in the data source column name, use this format:«DataSource.[Column Name]»

Setting up the Template

Adding merge fields

The final template will resemble this:

Following the Sample Code


In the downloadable under SalesInvoice, there is a completed template file located in SalesInvoice/templates/Part1_Invoice_Template.docx.

1. Start with a blank .docx file. 

2. Add the merge fields for the header. These values are a single row of data called "OrderHeader." The values are "FirstName," "LastName," and "Date." 

3. Create a table for the order data and add the merge fields These values are a single row of data called "OrderDetails."  In this sample, the values are "Item," "Qty," "Price," "LineTotal," "SubTotal," "Tax," and "Total." 

4. Format the currency fields with a formatting switch, such as:  "#/ $#,###0.00"

 The template should resemble this: 

5. The template can be styled as desired. Any formatting applied to a merge field will be persisted when WordWriter populates the data.

Adding a WordWriter Reference in Visual Studio

Following the Sample Code


In the sample code, the reference to SoftArtisans.OfficeWriter.WordWriter.dll has already been added to the SalesInvoice project.

Create a .NET project and add a reference to the WordWriter library.

  1. Open Visual Studio and create a .NET project.
    • The sample code uses a web application.
  2. Add a reference to SoftArtisans.OfficeWriter.WordWriter.dll
    • SoftArtisans.OfficeWriter.WordWriter.dll is located under Program Files > SoftArtisans > OfficeWriter > dotnet > bin

Writing the Code

Following the Sample Code


There is a sample web application page Part1.aspx and code behind Part1.aspx.cs available in the SalesInvoice/ directory that shows the completed code.

1. Include the SoftArtisans.OfficeWriter.WordWriter namespace in the code behind.

2. In the method that will actually run the report, instantiate the WordTemplate object.

3. Open the template file with the WordTemplate.Open method.

4. Create an object array for the header values and a string array for the column names.

WordTemplate can be bound to numerous types of .NET data structures: single variables, arrays (1-D, jagged, multi-dimensional), DataSet,DataTableIDataReader etc. The source of the data can come from anywhere.

Some of the aforementioned structures have built in column names, such as the DataTable. When working with arrays, which don't have built in column names, you have to define the column names in a separate string array.

5. Create two arrays as the OrderDetail data set.

6. Use the WordTemplate.SetDataSource method to bind the order info to the merge fields in the template file. 

SetDataSource() binds a single row of data to the template.

7. Use SetDataSource() to bind the order details arrays. Note that the data source name is the last string.

8. Call WordTemplate.Process to import the data into the file.

9. Call WordTemplate.Save to save the output file.

WordTemplate has several output options: save to disk, save to a stream, stream the output file in a page's Response inline or as an attachment.

The final output should resemble this:

Final Code


You can download the code for the Basic WordWriter Tutorials as a Visual Studio solution, which includes the Simple Expense Summary.

Next Steps

Continue on to Part 2: Repeat Blocks

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