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Steven Van de Craen's Blog

22 February 2018

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A couple of months ago we released a new version of our core document conversion platform, with the main change being a completely overhauled HTML converter. Although it is also possible to convert SharePoint Online URLs using our on-premise products, this new functionality is primarily aimed at our Online customers.

Although automating conversions is very powerful, sometimes all you need is a quick PDF of the current web page, generated by clicking a link in SharePoint's user interface. Please follow the steps below to set this up:. From the Personal Actions menu the menu that is opened when clicking on your name at the top-right corner of the screen , select Convert Page to PDF. The resulting PDF is automatically optimised for print purposes. The left-hand navigation menu is removed as are most of the other user interface elements.

If you prefer the PDF to look exactly like what is displayed in the web browser, including user interface elements, then switch to the Screen media type in the HTML Conversion configuration screen the same screen used for specifying the default credentials. Converting via the SharePoint User Interface is nice and well, but more often than not conversion is part of an automated process.

The easiest way to automate this is by creating a SharePoint Designer Workflow. Microsoft Flow , and its big brother Logic Apps , are rapidly increasing in popularity. It is easy to see why, not only does it provide a great browser-based workflow editor for SharePoint Online, it can also be used in combination with non-SharePoint environments such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, SalesForce and hundreds of other systems.

Muhimbi's PDF Converter is available out of the Flow box , and makes it easy to convert, merge, watermark, secure, split and OCR files, just have a look at these tutorials.

The SharePoint Designer workflow created in the previous section can easily be recreated in Flow. From a high level perspective, the steps are as follows:. Depending on your exact needs and source material, you may need to experiment with the various settings.

Our support desk staff is very experienced, so contact us if you have any questions or require assistance. Muhimbi's range of server side PDF Conversion products is very popular amongst InfoPath users as we are the only software vendor with a credible solution for converting InfoPath forms to PDF, including attachments and the ability to specify which views to convert. Although InfoPath is still popular amongst our customers, it is no longer actively developed by Microsoft.

Similar to many other organisations who operate in the Digital Forms field, we have been keeping an eye out for possible replacements. Nintex Forms is a popular choice for organisations who operate in the SharePoint field, but in the past year another player has emerged; Microsoft's own PowerApps solution, part of Office For details about how to use our software to convert Nintex Forms - including attachments - to PDF, see this blog post.

The focus of this post is on how to use PowerApps to capture data and turn that data into a richly formatted PDF. Due to architectural difficulties, that is currently not possible. Although the Muhimbi Connector can be added to PowerApps directly, at the time of writing PowerApps does not have any built-in facilities for dealing with the generated PDF file. To keeps thing easy to understand, we carry out the actual PDF generation in Flow, from where the file can be emailed, or passed on to a service such as SharePoint, OneDrive, DropBox etc.

Check out this 3rd party blog post about how to achieve this. Let's begin by creating a PowerApp. It doesn't really matter what it looks like, as long as it contains two text fields named TextEmail and TextName as well as a button named ButtonGenerate.

A stylised version of the form can be found in the screenshot below. Note that we also added a Pen Input field, which you may need in the Further Enhancements section. With the form and various fields in place, create a new Flow using the Flows option in the Action ribbon. Click on the Create a new flow option in the right-hand side pane as per the screenshot above. The Flow editor is opened and the PowerApps trigger is automatically inserted. Click New step and select the Add an action option.

If this is the first time you are using a Muhimbi action in Flow then you will be asked to specify your Muhimbi account. If you don't have one, click the Try for free button to create a new subscription. The sky is the limit when it comes to HTML, but let's not go overboard for this simple example.

Now, this is where things get slightly tricky. We need to generate the parameters for the data we want to pass from the PowerApp to the Flow, in this case the contents of the TextEmail and TextName fields. To do this, position the cursor behind the semi column: Depending on your exact use case, and number of variables that need passing between your PowerApp and Flow, you may want to generate the HTML inside the PowerApp, and pass it as a single parameter into the Flow.

Add another step to process the generated PDF file. In this example we will email the file as an attachment, so insert the Send email action of your choice there are several services that can send email, we picked the one simply named Mail. Insert that into the To field or hardcode an address, it is up to you.

Enter a descriptive Subject , Email Body and Attachment file name under advanced options , make sure the file name ends in '. That is our Flow done, it is fairly simple as you can see in the screenshot below. Select the newly authored Flow from the list. If you named it the same as we did PowerApps PDF generator then a method name will automatically be generated and inserted in the button's OnSelect field. Please make sure the parameters for the name and email are passed in in this order.

That is it, save the form and preview the app F5. Enter your name and email address, and click the button. After a few seconds you will receive an email with the PDF attachment in your inbox. PowerApps, Flow, a third-party PDF Converter, all excellent products but there are quite a few moving parts in this tutorial. It is not unlikely that you will experience a problem during the development. Although this is a nice and easy to follow, tutorial, we can think of a number of refinements and enhancements that will come in handy in the real world:.

What do you think, is this something that could work for your organisation? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact our support desk if you have any technical or commercial questions. With more and more companies moving to Office , and specifically SharePoint online, the industry's focus is moving towards online services, resulting in such products as the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online and Nintex Workflow for Office Although other workflow engines such as Microsoft Flow , Azure Logic Apps , and the built-in SharePoint Online Workflow Manager make it possible for 3rd parties such as Muhimbi to directly integrate their services, this is currently not possible in Nintex Workflow for Office The workaround that our customers have been using for years Create a SharePoint Designer Workflow using our workflow actions and invoke that from Nintex Workflow for Office works well, but it is just The first release focused on the most important elements the PDF Conversion user interface and Workflow Actions for SharePoint Designer , but one of the key features of our on-premise products was missing, an API to allow integration with 3rd party solutions and software partners.

Although our customers are very happy with the comprehensive Web Services SOAP interface exposed by our on-premise products, it is less suitable for use by online subscription based services. Instead we decided to go for a brand-new, and much-simplified, REST based interface as that is how modern systems, especially Cloud based products, talk to each other. Nintex Workflow for Office Although available as a stand-alone subscription, this new service is automatically included in each PDF Converter for SharePoint Online subscription at no additional charge.

For details about using our software in combination with the on-premise versions of SharePoint, see this Knowledge Base article. Let's have some fun and build a workflow! It is strongly recommended to follow the tutorial below, but the workflow is available for download as well. Navigate to a site collection and document library of your choice, one that matches the prerequisites listed above, and choose the option to create a new Nintex Workflow.

In this example, we use the standard Shared Document library that is available on most site collections. As a first step you should always do this insert a Set Workflow Status action, edit it and set it to Started. This will show us that the workflow has actually triggered it is always a guess in SharePoint Online , it will also give us something to click on to inspect the current status of the workflow.

In the String field enter the following:. As mentioned above, we have mangled the JSON by using square brackets, we need to replace them with curly braces again.

To do so, insert a Replace Substring in String action and configure it as follows:. Click the Save button and copy the workflow action using the action's Configure the newly pasted workflow action and replace the opening bracket with the closing bracket ']'. Do not try to use this particular key, it will not work. Also, do not try to be clever and put curly braces around the key.

Finally, insert another Set Workflow Status action and configure it with the text Completed. When we run the workflow, we can now easily see when it has completed. We are DONE, at least with the initial version. Publish the workflow, give it a sensible name, set the Start Options to a value of your choice.

Once published, open the document library the workflow is associated with, make sure a file of the supported type is present, and manually start the workflow. After a few seconds, the PDF file will show up next to the file the workflow was started on.

Although both Nintex Workflow for Office and the Muhimbi PDF Converter are mature services, in workflows like this there are a lot of 'moving parts'. The first time you create a workflow like this, something is bound to go wrong.

Don't get me wrong, the workflow we created earlier is great, but I wouldn't use it for mission critical processes. There is no error handling whatsoever, and there is a possible recursion problem where the workflow will be triggered for PDF files it has created itself. A version of the workflow that is more production ready can be found in the screenshot below. Full details are beyond the scope of this post, but you can download the full workflow here. You can use the item type to create a custom activity that you can then import as a custom action in SharePoint Designer This opens the Add New Item dialog box, as shown in Figure 2.

In the illustration, the name is "WorkflowActionsModule1". The new item is created, and you are presented with the activity design surface. If the Toolbox tab is not already showing, click it to expose the toolbox nodes. Click the SharePoint Workflow node to show the workflow development objects.

There is a partial view of objects in the workflow toolbox in Figure 3. After you create your actions module and add your action and activity files, your project should look something like that depicted in Figure 5.

You will see one. Additionally, you will have an Elements. After you create your custom workflow activity, you can then package and deploy it. After it is deployed, the custom activity can be consumed by SharePoint Designer as a custom action. The solution package contains a custom actions module, which is a set of files that are deployed on SharePoint. This module can contain any number of workflow activity definitions, each of which is a.

The module also contains actions. Each actions file contains multiple actions that refer to the activities in the module, or to native activities that are available on a default SharePoint installation. After a solution package. After the custom actions are activated, they are available for use in a workflow. After your custom action is deployed, you can update or remove it very easily.

All you have to do is open the activity project in Visual Studio, make the changes that you want, and then package and redeploy as described in the preceding procedure. To remove the custom action, you can just uninstall the feature on the target site collection. Two troubleshooting hints that may help ensure a correct configuration include:. Going to the Site Features page and ensuring that the feature that contains the custom action is activated. Querying the Workflow Manager Client 1.

Workflow actions and activities reference for SharePoint. Develop SharePoint workflows using Visual Studio. Our new feedback system is built on GitHub Issues. Read about this change in our blog post. Note A sample is provided that illustrates creating a custom action.

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