Thursday, June 9, 2016

AutoCrat Version 3.0 Updates and Tutorial Video

For several years AutoCrat has been one of my favorite and most used Add-ons for Google Sheets. Just this week the latest version was released bringing new features, ease of use, and better performance.

If you are not familiar with AutoCrat it is tool that let’s you merge data from Google Sheets into Google Docs, PDFs, or even other Google Sheets. You can think of it like the Google version of mail merge in Microsoft Word, but a lot more awesome!

Common uses for AutoCrat include form letters, certificates, discipline reports, RTI forms, walk through documents, student schedules, and even “Madlib” stories.

My most common use is to generate certificates of completion for the webinars I create. After watching one of my 1-hour recorded webinars, you can take a short quiz to prove you watched the video. If you pass the quiz, then AutoCrat generates a PDF certificate of attendance to turn in to your school for one contact hour. As of the time of this writing (June 2016) it has generated over 3,000 certificates for my webinars, something I never would have been able to do if it were not automated.

If you have never used AutoCrat before, you should absolutely try it out. If you have experience with it, you will be excited to see all the new features. See the rest of the blog post below for an overview of what's new in version 3.0 and watch my detailed tutorial video on how to use AutoCrat for merging.

Tutorial Video (27 minutes)

Watch the video below to see a detailed walk-through of how to use version 3.0 of AutoCrat. In this tutorial I demonstrate how I use AutoCrat to merge certificates of completion for my webinars.

What’s New in AutoCrat 3.0?

Below are several of the main updates in the latest version of AutoCrat:

Single Interface - AutoCrat now uses a modern, easy to navigate single interface window. Instead of the old version which had a panel on the right along with a pop-up window, now everything is handled in one central window.

Single Document Mode - In the past when you ran AutoCrat you got a separate document for each row of the Google Sheet. You can still do this, but now you have a second option. If you want you can now have all of the merged documents in one single file. This will be helpful when you need to read through all the merged info at once, rather than needing to open each merged document individually.

Image Merge - You can now merge images into your documents. You just need to have a column in your spreadsheet with URL’s for publicly hosted images, and select “Image” for the tag type during the merge. AutoCrat will put the linked pictures into the merged docs.

Hyperlink Merge - You can also merge live clickable links in your merged docs. You just need a column in your spreadsheet with web addresses, and select “Hyperlink” for the tag type during the merge. AutoCrat will put live clickable links into the merged docs.

Consistent Tag Format - In the past there were two different formats for tags in AutoCrat. In your template document you used the <<tag>> format, while in the merge settings you use the $tag format. Now all of AutoCrat uses the <<tag>> format for consistency (although the old $tag format will still work for your old jobs).

Drawer Panel - When creating your merge job it is now easier to insert your tags by using the new drawer. You can click on the arrow on the left to open a panel with all of the tags (column headings) from your spreadsheet. Simply click on any tag to copy it so you can easily paste it into the merge settings interface.

Time and Date Tags - Finally AutoCrat now provides built-in tags that you can use in your merge. These include <<TODAY>> for the current date and <<NOW>> for the current time.

  • For even more details on the changes in version 3.0 see the official AutoCrat User Guide from New Visions CloudLab here: Google Document link
  • If you would like to see my webinars and get your own certificate of completion from AutoCrat, you can access all my recorded videos here: Webinar page link
  • If you would like to learn more about how I create my webinars, see my blog post here: Blog post link

Post by Eric Curts
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  1. I launched Autocrat last night to find the new version. I muddle through to generate 300 contact hour certificates for the Tech Summit of NW Ohio. Everything else (invoices, receipts) was done with the older version Note: I did have to use the $tag format to get the tags into the emails I sent. I will see if this continues and post in the Autocrat G+ group if it does. Now, I can take a step back and learn ALL the nuances of version 3 with your post information.

  2. Thanks Eric! Anybody having problems with it not triggering after a form is submitted? I've got it set to trigger on form submission and nothing setup for time trigger, but when I submit, it's not doing the merge. I can manually run the Merge and it works fine, but just not triggering.

  3. Thanks Eric. Major problem though. Email is sent but the document does not get attached. Spent 4 hours trying to figure out why this is not working. Any suggestions?

  4. I used to use ETTC's Instant Poetry Forms with my students to create poems.
    This site is no longer live, but you can still find the poems in the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. I am trying to figure out the best way to use Google Forms along with Autocrat to recreate some of the forms. Similar to using Forms to create a madlib–any thoughts

  5. Excellent read, I just passed this into a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that.

  6. I see there is useful information in this post.

  7. Thank you for this tutorial. Is there is a way to select specific images to be merged based on answers that the user chooses? For example, a badge to be pasted on the certificate that matches the course that the user completes.

  8. Single Document mode-auto page break...
    The output file prints a blank page between each document.
    Any thoughts on how to avoid this while still having each document on its own page?

  9. Thank you Eric for this very handy video tutorial for the new version. I am experiencing a weird result: the merged pdfs have two extra (blank) pages that we cannot figure out why it it happening. We checked the template doc, and it does not have any extra lines/spaces. Do you have any ideas? Or anyone else know? Thanks!

  10. Having trouble formatting a two page letter. I want to print one filed it seems to either move the second page onto the first or insert a blank page. It seems the first person's letter is different from the others interns of the header or the inserted blank page. any ideas or suggestions?