Using Active Server Pages to Build Microsoft Word Documents
By Gardiner B. Jones
BuildDoc.asp is an Active Server Page (ASP) that reads the output of a
web page form, and creates as output a Microsoft Word document contai
ning a table of changed data within the form. Forms are no longer limi
ted to containing static information. With database connectivity, the
increasing use of Dynamic HTML (DHTML), and the growing interest in XM
L, it has become common practice in business Web pages for the data co
ntained in them to be dynamic. That is, what is shown in the form may
change based on user interaction (see the sample input form below).
The business need filled by BuildDoc is to enable sales associates to
create form letters from the changed records of a Web page table. Only
the data modified by the sales person is sent to Word, where it is fo
rmatted into a table. Obviously, all samples here are fictitious.
BuildDoc will read all of the information on the form, identifying whi
ch rows have been changed, and then creates the Microsoft Word documen
t using only the information contained within the changed rows (see th
e sample output document below). BuildDoc uses a template file (buildD
oc.dot) that contains the address header, and some preformatted text.
It then writes a table into the document that has a row for each modif
ied row from the Web page form.
How To Do It
We start by reading all of the Web page form fields into hidden form f
ields on the receiving Web page. In the source code below, note the "
onLoad " call in the body tag. It calls the buildDoc VBScript subrouti
ne, passing three parameters to it: the contents of the page’s form (a
ll the hidden fields), the location of the Word template file, and the
number of rows received from the input form. The input form fields ar
e all read and then, when the page loads, it calls the buildDoc subrou
tine. For the sake of brevity, we will assume that all variables have
been first declared before use.
The code for the loading of the input form fields into buildDoc.asp is
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C/DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN">
<META HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh" CONTENT="30;URL=’orderForm.asp’">
intRowCount = Request.Form("rowCount") ‘initialize a row counter
<BODY Language="VBScript" onLoad="buildDoc document.theForm,
itemCount = 0 ‘set field counter to zero
For Each Item in Request.Form ‘count up the form fields
itemCount = itemCount + 1 ‘using For..Next loop
<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="<%=Item%>" VALUE="<%=Request(Item)%>">
<% Next %>
<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="numbRows" VALUE="<%=intRowCount%>">
<INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="fieldCount" VALUE="<%=itemCount%>">
We create an instance of the Word Document object, using the sample co
de immediately below. Note that in Internet Explorer 4+ this will fail
unless the browser security is set to Low, or Custom with the appropr
iate setting to run programs.
Set objWordDoc = CreateObject("Word.Document")
ObjWordDoc.Application.Documents.Add theTemplate, False
We re-dimension our array so that it is the same size as the number of
rows that are contained in the Web page’s form. In this case, we set
the Y-axis to a constant value of four because that is the number of c
olumns we need in the output document. The X-axis contains the number
of received rows from the form.
Redim Preserve theArray(4,intTableRows)
Now we are ready to examine all of the form rows. We do this by loopin
g through all the input Web page form fields to collect each form fiel
d name and corresponding value. We test each to determine which array
element to put it into, and then we put it there. The SELECT CASE stat
ement in the code sample below is important. It is where we determine
in which column the form field belongs. We used hard coded CASE option
s here for expediency.
For intCount = 0 to frmData.fieldCount.value
strOkay = "Y"
strSearch = frmData.elements(intCount).name ‘load the field name
strValue = frmData.elements(intCount).value ‘load the field value
strPosition = Instr(1,strSearch,"_") ‘get pos val of "_"
If intStrLen > 0 Then
strLeft = Left(strSearch,intStringLen)
strRight = Right(strSearch,(Len(strSearch)-Len(strLeft)-1))
Select Case strLeft
Case "SKU" intArrayY=0
Case "description" intArrayY=1
Case "price" intArrayY=2
Case "quantity" intArrayY=3
IntArrayX = strRight
If strOkay <> "N" Then
TheArray(intArrayY, intArrayX) = strValue
Now we are ready to begin creating the document. We start by setting t
he Microsoft Word Document object RANGE using our variable, rngCurrent
, to the active document (just in case the user has a different docum
ent also open). Then we specify the table size by specifying its locat
ion ( rngCurrent ) and the number of rows and columns it needs.
Set rngCurrent = objWordDoc.Application.ActiveDocument.Content
Set tabCurrent = ObjWordDoc.Application.ActiveDocument.Tables.Add
Having created the document with the table, we now begin populating th
e table with data. First we point to the first row ( tabRow=1 ), then
begin a loop that will run through each row. We insert a line feed [ C
hr(10) ] at the end of each row to put some white space between rows.
Finally, we increment our row counter, output the dollar values with "
FormatCurrency" to ensure use of dollar signs, commas and decimal plac
es. Right justification of dollar amounts is handled by setting the co
lumn in question to " ParagraphAlignment=2 ". I won’t tell you how muc
h of a pain it was to discover how to do that! Suffice it to say that
it is easier and better documented in VBA, which is not at all like wh
at is required in VBScript.
For j = 1 to intTableRows
tabRow = tabRow + 1
Finally, we finish up our document with some closing text and specifyi
ng the template’s location, and then our subroutine.
"Thank you for shopping at Acme Co., and please come again!")
"Daryl B. Morticum")
Hopefully this will get your gears spinning for ways you can do someth
ing similar. We are sure that we aren’t the only people who have had a
need to create a document from a Web page’s form. This is how we did
it. If you have a better way, or an improvement on or method, we would
love to hear from you.