Documents & Forms
Microsoft 365 & SharePoint Tools
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Aug 31
How to create PDF documents from an Airtable database using Make and Plumsail Documents
Sergey Kaigarodov
Internet Marketer

Plumsail Documents is now available on Make! Make (formerly Integromat) is a platform that allows you to connect applications and manage data from them, creating scenarios based on your needs. In the 2022 annual report, Make says:

By leveraging our product, Make users have automated the equivalent of 170,347 days or 466 years of manual work in 2022!
2022 at Make: A Look Back into Our Most Spectacular Year

And you can automate your working routine. In this article, we'll show you an example of how to automate the process of generating documents using data from Airtable.

You will learn how to create professional-looking PDFs from multiple Airtable records containing line items and image attachments with the help of Plumsail Documents and Make.


Further in the article:

  1. Overview of the Airtable Database
  2. Create and set up a process in Plumsail Documents
  3. Set up the flow in Make
  4. More possibilities
  5. Get started


1. Overview of the Airtable Database

Let's take a closer look at our database in Airtable. We have created a database with multiple records. The primary data we will work with is the name of the object, description, rental price per month, and attached photos of the object.

data base prev  

We need to pay attention to the field of object availability and the panel with views. We duplicated the All view as the base and created a new view, Available Objects, by setting a filter on the Object Availability column so that only objects available for rent are displayed. This view will come in handy later when creating the flow in Make.

data base view  

2. Create and set up a process in Plumsail Documents

Our next step is to set up the start-generation process for the document with multiple line items using Plumsail Documents. The first thing we need to do is make a template. We took a ready-made Property Listing template in Word DOCX format from our library.

real estate template  

The template uses nested tokens with a dot operator inside a table to indicate that properties refer to the same collection of the object: {{object.Name}},{{object.Price}},{{object.Description}}. You can see the borders in the screenshot, but they are hidden in the template. The templating engine is intelligent enough to recognize which content needs to be duplicated. It will iterate through all of the objects in the array to render them and automatically add rows.

template doc  

The table also has settings for displaying the inside horizontal border, and when a new row appears, the border between them will be displayed.

It also uses a picture formatter {{object.url}:picture(210,170)} to handle photos from columns with attached photos of objects from Airtable. The numbers in the brackets of the token indicate the width and height of the image. Specifying two sizes allows you to use images with different resolutions, since, in the finished document, it will be stretched to these values.

We launch Plumsail Documents, click the Add Process button, and select the Start From Template item. In the list of templates, select "Property List". Enter the name of the process, go to template settings, check it, and click the Save & Next button.

plumsail set template  

The next step is setting up the output file that we will receive after generating the document. The main lines to fill will be Output filename and Output type. Depending on your needs, you can choose one of two formats for the final document: PDF or Word DOCX. Select PDF format and click the Save & Next button.

plumsail out  

After completing the configuration of the output file, we go to the tab to choose the delivery method. It can be your mailbox, Slack, SharePoint, etc. We set to save our generated document to Google Drive. Alternatively, if the needed delivery option is missing, you can manipulate the resulting file in Make and send it to any app.

We also add the @date token to the file name. When a document is generated, it will have the creation date in its title. Click the Save & Next button and go to the settings Start process.

plumsail deliv  

In this section, we do not need to do anything. But on the integration panel, there is a Make tab, and we can see the available flow templates for different applications.

plumsail to make  

3. Set up the flow in Make

After we set up a database and document generation process, we move on to creating a flow in Make. Here's what it will look like in the end:

make prev  


The first thing we need to do is set the Trigger. In our case, we used the module Search Records in the Airtable database and performed the following steps:

  1. Connect Airtable and Make accounts.
  2. Select a database Real estate database.
  3. Specify the Main table where we will take the data.
  4. Choose the Available objects view that we created earlier.
  5. Set the Output Fields.

make airtable  


After creating the search module, we will add modules with Iterators. An Iterator is a special type of module that converts an array into a series of bundles. Each array item will be outputted as a separate bundle. In each iterator, we write one array. As a result, we get an Iterator with an array of names, an Iterator with an array of descriptions, and so on. The number of Iterators corresponds to the number of fields to fill in our template.

make iterators  

For an array of attachments with photos of objects, select the source URL.

make iterators url  

Arrays Aggregator  

Next, we add the module Array Aggregator. An Aggregator is a type of module designed to merge several bundles of data into a single bundle. It accumulates all the bundles it receives and outputs a single bundle with an array containing one item per accumulated bundle. The content of the array's items depends on the particular Aggregator module and its setup.

NOTE: Before setting up Aggregator, add the Plumsail Documents module and synchronize it with Make. Select a process and go back to the Aggregator setup.

Having opened the settings of the Aggregator, we indicate the Source module is the Airtable - Search Records. Then we select the Target structure type, the Plumsail Documents, and merge the fields of the document template with the resulting arrays from Iterators.

make aggregator  

Plumsail Documents - Start Documents Generation Process  

The next step is adding and configuring the Plumsail Documents module. We made the connection and process selection earlier, before setting up the Aggregator. We make the Map switch in the object field active and select the resulting array from the Aggregator.

make plumsail  

Our last step is to set up the launch of the scenario. We click on the time, select the launch scenario Every day, and specify the time as 8:40. Click OK and switch SCHEDULING to the active position.

make run  

All settings are ready. Now every morning, Make will query Airtable for all records from the database. It will process the received data according to our settings and transfer it to Plumsail Documents to generate a PDF document from the template and save it on Google Drive.

final doc  

4. More possibilities

The document created is a clear example of how applications interact with each other. Plumsail Documents processes document templates smartly, while Airtable stores data in a neat format, all connected by Make (formerly Integromat). In our article, there was a fairly simple example, but thanks to this integration, you can create more complex things:

  • Reports, proposals, invoices, and other documents based on Airtable data using customized templates from Plumsail Documents.

  • Personalized letters, contracts, or documents for clients based on Airtable data integrated through Make.

  • Progress reports or client documents based on Airtable data using Plumsail Documents.

  • Employment contracts, confidentiality agreements, and other HR documents using Airtable data.

  • Personalized email content based on Airtable data, including documents created using Plumsail Documents, for effective marketing and communication.

5. Get started

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