Say hello to an improved way to merge documents!

Say hello to an improved way to merge documents!

Automating all your documents from start to finish is now easier than ever with Writer's new merge tools.
If you haven't seen it yet, you can read the main announcement here.
Here is the full list of the features we've rolled out:

1. Dynamic Table Headers and repeated blocks
After listening to our latest user feedback, we knew these two features were a must-have.

Subform creation
Subforms are field groups that mostly denote choices, transactions, and other activities registered under a single record. With Writer, you can now create such field groups within a record that, when merged, will dynamically grow based on the records in your data source.  
For example: Say you want to keep track of the products purchased by a certain customer. In this case, "Customer" is a record, and "the products they purchased" are recorded as a subform under their name.
Subforms can be mapped to a related subform in a data source, like Zoho Creator, Zoho CRM, and more.

Repeating blocks

You can now repeat blocks as a paragraph, a table row, a table cell, or a table column. For instance, if you're listing the names of books, their authors and descriptions, you can just use the Repeat option of your choice, select the merge fields that carry those details, and insert it into the document.

The selected blocks with all the information you need would then automatically be repeated for each book in your data source.

2. New field types
You can now choose from a variety of different field types to up your template-creation game.

Same field, different configurations 
In case you would want the settings of a field to be different in one or a few places alone, we added a new "change for this instance" option. This way, you can tweak format, output type, and other value settings for a particular instance of a field without affecting other parts of the document where the same field is used.

Repeated blocks? Auto-number it!

If you're working with repeated blocks using the repeat field or subform fields, you can assign auto-increment serial numbers by simply inserting the new "Auto-number" field before them.

Embed fields to make documents more interactive

Here's something to make your templates more personalized for each of your recipients: You can now add unique, interactive elements for each of them using an Embed field. This makes it easier to add map locations for each of your records or add contextual video links to guide them.

Placeholder images in templates
You can now apply custom placeholder images to image fields in Writer based on the type of document you're working with.
In addition to giving your template designers better layout control over the template, placeholder images also let the user know the type of image to be inserted or attached.

3. Tools to format those field types

What's the point of so many different field types if you can't adjust them to your liking? That's exactly what we did.

Shortened field names
There could be fields in your data source whose names are way too long, making your templates look untidy or unclear. Long field names could also denote that your content might look drastically different if the values those fields have are usually much shorter.
To tackle this, we're introducing a provision in which you can shorten the names of fields in your merged documents.

Formula that output!

Know that feeling when you have everything ready and merged in your output document except for the final cost of your products? That's why we've introduced formulas in merge fields: so you no longer have to calculate your figures manually. You can now use formulas to calculate your merged output using the desired functions.

Personalized date formats

Certain documents require dates to be written in a certain format. For instance, formal letters require the date to be written in full with the day, month, followed by a comma and the year. With Writer's new update, you can now change the format of the merged date to suit your purpose.

Display past or future dates
The date field provides an easy way to display the current date, but what about when you want to display a past or future date?
For instance, if you're sending renewal reminders and the renewal date is 3 months from the subscription date, you can simply add "3" in the months option or add the number of days for the interval in the days field, and Writer will automatically calculate and enter the renewal date in the field. Similarly, you can do the same to enter dates that are even prior to the subscription date.

Rich text

The fields in your data source may carry links, or even have different styles. Merge fields in Writer are now enabled with rich text to retain the style and  format of the fields from your data source after merge.

Number and currency field formatting

Just like how you can change the format of date fields, you can also do the same with number and currency fields. Legal documents, for instance, require values to be presented in the correct decimal and currency format. In such cases, all you have to do is simply change the format of the merged values by using the number formatting option.

4. Other handy merge upgrades

We didn't just stop there. Here are three more upgrades we think will enhance the way you work with your documents pre- and post-merge.

Customize merge docs with sign settings
Create sign-ready, customized documents for specific clients that your colleagues can check, change a few things if needed, and then send for sign immediately with the configuration you've set for them. This gives you that final layer of review and confirmation before sending out a contract to clients.

Detailed merge reports
Now, stay on top of your merged emails by tracking when they have been viewed or read by your recipients and how they are interacting with your links.

Lastly, the automation panel gets a new look!

That's right. Based on what some of you told us, we've improved the automation panel by making it easier for you to access "Prepare" and "Run Merge" steps distinctly from the panel at any time.

That's all for now. Let us know what you think of these updates in the comments below.

Read the main announcement here.

Happy merging!

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