Variable Data Printing

Some products may require the personalization of every printed copy, for example, when you are preparing letters and pre-addressed envelopes for mass mailings (a so-called mail merge), creating wedding invitations, or printing business cards in a corporate style.

The most important benefit of variable data printing (VDP) is a better connection to your customers, giving them the possibility to feel that you remember every customer personally. The mail merge, for example, makes a letter more personal and helps to increase the response rate and decrease the response time. Making hundreds of similar personalized files manually would be very time-consuming. The technique of variable data printing solves this problem by allowing the creation of one template with placeholders and populating them from a certain data source for each personal copy.

Variable Data Printing Demo

This Variable Data Printing demo is based on Customer's Canvas and an additional application. You can contact our support team to get the VDP demo package. This demo personalizes a badge and implements the following workflow:

  1. The user creates a design (from scratch or based on a PSD or IDML template).

    Creating a design in the Variable data printing tool.

  2. The user uploads their data as XLS file or types it in on the page.

    Editing their data in the Variable data printing tool.

  3. The user saves the design and the data in Customer's Canvas and saves the design ID in your database.

    Getting a state ID in the Variable data printing tool.

  4. Your staff who fulfills orders runs the VDP Client that downloads the design and converts it to a set of printable PDF files (either one per a record, or a single multipage PDF).

VDP Tool Installation

The process of setting up this tool includes the following steps:

  1. Installing Customer's Canvas on your server.
  2. Installing the Customer's Canvas Proxy on your server.
  3. Adding graphical materials - a badge template, clipart, etc.
  4. Deploying demo app files to your web server.
  5. Installing the vdp.exe utility on a machine of your printing staff.

Step 1. Installing Customer's Canvas

If you don't have it yet, contact our support team and get your Customer's Canvas instance working. If you have a version older than 4.3.3, it is highly recommended to update it to the latest version.

If you are going to install it on your own server (the on-premises installation), you can use instructions from the Deploying Customer's Canvas to Windows Servers topic. Make sure that your instance is running via HTTPS protocol.

If you are using a cloud version of Customer's Canvas, contact our support team to make sure that you have the latest version.

As a result, you will have a URL to your Customer's Canvas instance. If you open it in a browser, you can see a Customer's Canvas standard demo page.

To use the Web API, you need to configure an API Key in Customer's Canvas settings as explained in the Web API topic.

Step 2. Installing the Customer's Canvas Proxy

The Customer's Canvas Proxy is a backend application required to see the preview images for different records. This application is located in the cc-proxy folder in the VDP demo package. For the installation instructions, refer to The Customer's Canvas Proxy topic.

Note that Customer's Canvas and its API Key must be set up to accomplish this step. Customer's Canvas runs on HTTPS, otherwise this proxy fails to make requests to it.

Step 3. Adding graphics

You need to copy the content of the graphics folder from the VDP demo package to the root of your Customer's Canvas instance.

Note that if you reconfigured the location of the design, gallery, or font folder, you should make sure that you copied files to the appropriate locations.

You may notice that the design, mockup, and public gallery files have a deep folder hierarchy. If you don't like this, you can reduce the number of folder levels, but it will require making changes in the config (see the next step).

Step 4. Deploying the frontend demo

We have prepared a sample demo app that runs the editor. It contains only HTML/JS/CSS files, so the installation is very straightforward - just copy the entire folder to your webserver. No matter what server you are using - IIS, Nginx, Apache, Node.js, or others, it will work just fine.

In a real life situation, you will need to integrate the content of vdp-sample.html to your page. You can refer to comments in this file for more details. Thus, you need to specify customersCanvasUrl and ccProxyApiUrl - URLs to your Customer's Canvas instance and Customer's Canvas Proxy.

This demo relies on a multistep-editor JS application developed by our team. It uses the configuration located in assets/configs to build the user interface (including embedding the Customer's Canvas editor). It is very versatile and we encourage you to learn more about how it works. You can contact our support team for more details.

Step 5. Installing the vdp.exe client app

Install this application on the machine of a staff member who prints badges (or other products you are going to print). It will connect to the Customer's Canvas backend, download state files maintaining designs and data, and convert them to PDF files.

It is located in the vdp-client folder. You can refer to the detailed instructions on how to install, configure, and use it in The VDP Client topic.

Important

Make sure that the fonts used in Customer's Canvas and vdp.exe are the same. If a customer creates a state file with a font which is unavailable in vdp.exe, it will fail to generate a PDF file.

You need a license key for this tool. It should be enclosed in the package. If you don't have it, contact our support team (or your contact person at Aurigma) to receive it.

See Also

Manual