It's common that governments request to export the information for each process from a workflow in a specific format. The information contained in a permit document might be required to be in a specific format by policy or statute, or an external agency (like a state regulatory agency) might require you to provide information on their specific form.

ClearForms offers a standard, simple PDF summary export format with some standard customization (header, footer, intro and outro text, and the ability to select which fields appear). This is the default option on all workflows. But most governments like to have a more customized look and feel. Here's how to create that:

If you choose, you can create one customized export format per workflow. This allows you to create that Zoning Permit in a traditional "Certificate" format or an oversized load permit in the style required by a transportation agency. We firmly believe that PDFs are not the best way to collect information, but sometimes outside organizations require that information be configured in a certain way for export.  Here's how to set it up a custom PDF export:

  1. Use a PDF tool like Adobe Acrobat to build a fillable PDF with fillable fields in all the places you want data from each application to appear.  Here's a guide to making a fillable PDF.  Name each "destination" field in your fillable PDF as you create it, to make mapping the information to the document possible. You can map data to text fields or map multiple choice answers either all to one destination field, or even to individual checkbox "answer" fields if you prefer.

  2. Go to the Outputs tab of the workflow and look for the Document Configuration section

  3. Select Custom (use a custom uploaded PDF) option and click on Manage Custom Documents

4. Upload the fillable PDF you've already created by dragging it into the upload section.  (Here are some tips on how to create a fillable PDF with labeled text and checkbox fields for upload). Once you do, you'll see a screen like the image below where you can
a. Give your new document a name
b. map specific fields from your workflow to the fields that you've labeled on the fillable PDF.  
c. See a visual representation of what the document you've uploaded looks like.

It is extremely important that you've labeled each field in your fillable PDF so you know which field to map what data to.  You can map any type of data field and also map signature images you've captured from a Collect Info or Review step onto the PDF. Please use "text" field types when setting up your fillable PDF, even for signature visualization. Additionally, you can approval dates, process ID numbers, the name of the person who was the most recent approver on a review step ("Recent approval name") and formula results.

5.  Please be sure to fully test your custom PDF configuration internally: you can test it yourself and have some of your colleagues pretend to be applicants to test the full workflow, including the export) to make sure it looks the way you expect.

6. Please note that if you change ANY of the source fields for your custom PDF export, (for example you delete a question in your workflow that was mapped on your PDF) it will no longer work properly (that data will show as blank on the Ouput) and you'll need to remap the fields or potentially upload a new version of the document. However also please note that if you need to update your PDF document, you may use the Replace Document feature and keep all existing field mappings that appear in the new version of the PDF. This is really helpful because it usually requires at least 2 rounds of adding and testing your Output to get it to where you need it to be :-)

Please share any feedback or challenges with this feature via the Intercom chat option or via [email protected].

Here are some advanced recommendations/ tips!

  • To make a new document retroactive to all previous versions of your workflow, you can change the "Start Version" number to 1. But then be sure to check for any field incompatibilities in the list below. The system defaults to leaving the information blank if it can't find the "correct" field to map in an earlier version of a workflow. You can see the Version Number where the field first appeared next to it (if you have multiple versions of the workflow).

  • You want to make sure that there are no fields that start AFTER the last version of the workflow if you're setting an "end" place before the latest version.

  • Adjust "Untitled document" to have a name that will help you remember what version it is. Like "License with Automatic Issue and Expiration Date".

  • If you see (Version 1-latest) for all fields on your current document, you're good to go! But in the case where there are gaps, you may want to use alternate versions of your document to cover those older versions.

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