Comparison: Configurable Business Documents vs. Docentric

First we created an overview of Configurable Business Documents and analyzed them in great depth, from how they work to their advantages and disadvantages. Read the analysis >>

Afterwards, we discussed the most critical drawbacks of Configurable Business Documents and explained how they can be eliminated by bringing Docentric into play. Our strategy is to utilize ER Data Models as report data sources, while keeping the usage of Docentric Designer and Document Generator just like we do now. This will enable end-users and functional consultants to customize both document data sources and designs from within D365FO, without help from developers, and at the same time it will bring far better design capabilities, PDF output and printing to printers. Learn more >>

In this article, you will find the feature-by-feature comparison between Configurable Business Documents (CBD) and Docentric. We would absolutely love to hear from you, so if you have any thoughts to share or discuss, we kindly invite you to do so at support@docentric.com. Your feedback and comments are much appreciated.

Feature

CBD in Oct 2019

Docentric

Designer

Designing in Word

Templates are designed in Word using built-in Content Controls and Custom XML parts, a limited technology with disadvantages as follows:

  • Data bindings to content controls cannot be viewed or edited.
  • No support for conditional rendering, e.g. user cannot conditionally hide or show certain document parts.
  • No support for expressions.
  • Repeater content control used for generating dynamic tables, e.g. with invoice lines does not work reliably.
  • Labels are supported only via data model.
  • Non-robust and extremely non-user friendly.
  • The output of these templates can be Word only.

See gallery >>

  • Templates are designed in Word using Docentric Add-In.
  • True user-friendliness and great design capabilities.
  • Output formats: Word, PDF, XPS, coming soon Excel and HTML.

See gallery >>

Designing in Excel

  • Templates are static documents without data binding between data models and their dynamic parts.
  • Data binding is implemented outside Excel templates, via named ranges and cells in D365FO’s ER Format designer. Consequently, user cannot easily shift, add or remove data bound Excel cells in a template.
  • Non-robust and extremely non-user friendly.
  • The output of these templates can be Excel only.

See gallery >>

N/A

Designing in PDF

  • The same as for Excel.
  • Page breaks are difficult to handle since multiple pages are implemented as merging of multiple single-paged PDFs.
  • The output of these templates can be PDF only.

See gallery >>

With Docentric, you always design documents in Word. The output can be PDF or Word, coming soon Excel and HTML.

Preview option

N/A

User has to start the report from D365FO to see the changes in its design.

  • Preview at any design step to see the results – this is a huge time saver.
  • Change sample data to test different scenarios, e.g. to conditionally show or hide the Discount column.
  • Preview a template in different languages.

Updating templates in production

Supported.

Supported.

Template storage

Location

Attachments (Azure/SharePoint).

Azure/SharePoint/File system.

Setup

  • Flat structure.
  • Templates can be filtered per functional area.
  • Structured per report and report groups.
  • Multiple templates per report, company and language, which can be selected directly on the Print destination settings form.
  • The concept of default template per report.

Versioning

Supported.

Supported via SharePoint.

 

Feature

CBD in Dec 2019

Docentric Now

Docentric in Oct 2019

Data sources

Adding additional data in production

  • Supported.
  • Non-user friendly and requires deep understanding of database relations.
  • Costly to debug when an issue appears (e.g., why a newly added field is not filled).
  • Currently not supported.
  • Only a developer, using the cost-effective Docentric approach, can add additional data.

Docentric will support this feature by reusing ER Data Models.
In other words, user will be able to specify any of the ER Data Models on Docentric report setup as a data source for a particular report, e.g. Customer invoice.

Adding custom labels

Supported.

Supported but limited to labels already defined in D365FO.

  • Reusing labels from ER Data Model.
  • Support for User-defined labels on Docentric report setup.

Reusing data sources of existing SSRS reports

Supported.

Supported via Docentric Replicas.

Supported since Docentric will use the same ER Data Models as Configurable Business Documents.

Output formats

PDF output

  • Not supported for the majority of documents (e.g. invoices, orders, statements) since they are designed in Word or Excel.
  • Supported for those documents based on PDF templates, e.g. Intrastat report.

Supported.

 

Word output

Supported for documents designed in Word.

Supported.

 

Excel output

Supported for documents designed in Excel.

Supported when executing SSRS reports.

On the roadmap to support Excel as output format, and consequently to enable ‘Export to Excel’ from Docentric Viewer also for reports based on Docentric templates.

Print destinations *

Printing to printers

N/A
Cannot print any of Configurable Business Documents.

  • Uses DRA to print to network printers.
  • Printing to both local and network printers.
  • Users can set up their default printer.
  • On the roadmap to create Favorite printers per user or department.
  • On the roadmap to create own DRA.

Routing files to local network folders

N/A

Uses DRA to route PDF files from the cloud to local network folders.

 

Emailing: Email body

  • Plain text with placeholders.
  • Built-in Email templates can be used, but in an extremely non user-friendly way.
  • Rich HTML editor with placeholders (e.g. Invoice ID, Customer contact name) is used for editing Email body.
  • Dynamic images (e.g. Company logo) are also supported.

Learn more >>

  • On the roadmap to support Email templates on Docentric report setup.
  • On the roadmap to improve Email body editor by introducing a powerful widget that will enable conditional and repeating data bindings.

Emailing: Multiple email senders

N/A

Supported.

Learn more >>

 

Emailing: Sending emails via Email distributor batch, i.e. using Email processing

N/A

Supported.

Learn more >>

 

Emailing: Bcc, Reply-to, Bounce-to, Message priority, Read and Delivery receipts

N/A

Supported.

Learn more >>

 

Emailing: Redirect printing from Email to, e.g. Printer if an email token (e.g. primary customer email) not found.

N/A

Supported.

Learn more >>

 

Emailing: Additional email attachments

N/A

Supported.

Learn more >>

 

Saving to SharePoint

Supported via Print archive.

Supported.

On the roadmap to enable saving to SharePoint with custom attributes.

Saving to Azure

Supported via Print archive.

Supported.

 

Saving to Attachments

N/A

Supported.

Select Document and Record type (e.g. Journal, Sales order or Customer) that the printing report should be attached to.

 

Print archive

  • Print archive contains all executed ER jobs with no search capabilities.
  • User can choose different Document types per report and this way save invoices and orders in different locations.
  • Great search capabilities per report metadata, e.g. Customer, Sales ID, Invoice ID.
  • Access from Customer and Vendor cards.
  • View print settings of archived reports.
  • Specify a note on the Print destination settings form and use it when searching archived reports.
  • Use different Document type per report and save invoices and orders in different locations.

Learn more >>

 

Printing to screen

Supported via Word and Excel Online.

For PDF templates, PDF extension for web browser is used.

  • Integrated within D365FO.
  • Preview before print.
  • Download as PDF.
  • Export to Word and Excel.
  • Print to local printers.

 

Multiple target print destinations

Supported.

Supported via Print management.

On the roadmap support for multiple choice of print destinations.

Placeholders used in print destinations *

Placeholders provided OOTB

Supported, since any field from ER Data model can be used as a placeholder.

Supported.

 

Using placeholders in Email print destination settings such as Email body, subject, To and Cc

Supported by binding directly to a ER Data Model or built-in Email tokens.

Supported but limited to a pre-defined set of placeholders per report, e.g. ‘Contact name’ or ‘Invoice ID’ for the Invoice report. Email tokens are also supported.

Docentric will introduce User-defined placeholders. See ‘Adding new placeholders in production’.

Using placeholders in print destination settings other than Email body, subject, To and Cc

Supported for output filenames.

Supported.
Placeholders can be used in all settings, e.g. in output filenames, names of target Azure containers or SharePoint folders.

 

Adding new placeholders in production

Supported.

N/A

Support for User-defined placeholders on Docentric report setup against the whole report data source.
This will apply to all reports, not just ER Data Model based reports.

Execution flow *

Integration with Print management

Partially supported:

  • ‘Preview copy/original’ does not work (works with SSRS).
  • ‘Use print management’ works but the print destination selected in Print management is ignored. Instead, the default ER file destinations are always used.

Supported.

Once Docentric adds support for ER Data Model based reports, they will behave just as regular SSRS reports – user will be able to select one of the multiple Docentric templates and print the report to the Docentric print destination that is selected in Print management setup.

Integration with other SSRS reports

N/A
However, user can build data sources for any reports, e.g. Production order report or Route card report.

Supported.

 

Provided documents OTTB

34 core documents

Supported.

Supported.

Docentric provides them in a separate model called Docentric AX SSRS Replicas.

Docentric will provide new Docentric templates for all 34 core documents (since the data source will be changed).

64 localized documents

Supported.

N/A

 

* All listed features in the marked sections except the Additional email attachments functionality are completely free of charge – they are part of Docentric AX Free Edition. Learn more >>

See also

Configurable Business Documents Overview >>
Configurable Business Documents Improved by Docentric >>

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