Communications - Updating a Letter Template with and without Merge Fields

Purpose:  Use this document to update a letter template and add merge fields to a letter template in ctcLink.

Audience:  Communication builders.

You must have at least one of these local college-managed security roles:

  • ZC CC 3Cs Config
  • ZD CC 3Cs Config
  • ZZ CC 3Cs Config
  • ZZ CC Standard Letter Tbl

College users do not have Correct History access to the Report Definitions page. Please submit a ticket if Correct History changes need to be made to a template and the appropriate Support team will review and update the Report Definition template accordingly.

Users must have college-specific security roles in order to access Report Definitions.  Users without these security roles will not be able to search for or  edit college Report Definitions. Replace ### with your college’s three  digit institution code:

  • For edit access to all Report Definitions associated with the college: ZZ Rpt Category ### ALL
  • For edit access to Admissions templates: ZZ Rpt Category ### AD
  • For edit access to Financial Aid templates: ZZ Rpt Category ### FA
  • For edit access to Student Financials templates: ZZ Rpt Category ### SF
  • For edit access to Student Records templates: ZZ Rpt Category ### SR

If you need assistance with the above security roles, please contact your local college supervisor or IT Admin to request role access.

You must also set the following SACR Security permissions:

Updating a Letter Template without Merge Fields

Letter Template and Report Definition

Report Definitions are tied to Letter Codes in the Standard Letter table. Letter Codes and Report Definitions are created by CS Customer Support Team. Please include the Datasource, Administrative Function, and letter templates in .rtf format when submitting a ticket. Template file names must be shorter than 65 characters in length. In the absence of an RTF template, CS Core can upload a blank template as a placeholder.

For any other field, if you do not provide information, we will use our best judgment. Once created, colleges will have the ability to view and update the template (on the template tab of the report definition page).

  1. Create your letter in Microsoft Word.
  2. Save the file as an RTF file format.
  3. To use image links (URLs) for logos and letterheads, visit the QRG Communications - Using Image Links in Templates.
  4. You must know the Report Definition name for the Letter Template you want to update. If you do not know this information but know the letter code, navigate to the Standard Letter Table and search by Letter Code.
Standard Letter Table

Navigation: Communications > Set up Communications > Standard Letter Table CS

  1. Look up your college codes in the 3C Configuration - Campus Solutions 3Cs and Message Center Naming Conventions QRG
  2. Also, review the list of departmental codes. One college character represents a letter code, while other items have two or three characters. Most colleges have a standard letter code starting with R for their FERPA notices. For example, a FERPA notification at Walla Walla is R52 (R = Records, 5 = Walla Walla's single-character code, 2 = sequential).
  3. Determine whether a standard letter is available. By searching using your college letter, you will be able to see all the standard letters that are configured for your institution. For instance, searching for " _5_ " will return all Walla Walla Standard Letter Codes. Since Financial Aid uses different naming conventions, some codes with 5 in the middle may belong to Walla Walla and others belong to a different institution.
  4. If you have a standard letter code, verify whether a report definition has been created and attached.
  5. A complete communication template includes a letter code and report definition on the Standard Letters page.
  6. The Report Definition page stores the communication template. On the Standard Letters page, copy the Report Name, then navigate to the Create BIP Report Definitions page.
Image highlights the Report Name
Report Definition

Navigation: Reporting Tools > BI Publisher > Create BIP Report Definitions

  1. Search by Report Name and select from the Search Results.
  2. Select the Template tab.
  3. Select Include History.
  4. In the Template Files section, select the Add a New Row [+] icon.
  5. Enter the Effective Date.
  6. Change the Status to "Active".
  7. Select Upload.
  8. Select your RTF file.
  9. Click the Upload button.
  10. Select Preview to view the template. (optional)
  11. Select Save in the lower-left corner.
  12. The updated Template is now available for use.
Video Tutorial

The video below demonstrates the process actions described in the steps  listed above. There is no audio included with this video. Select the  play button to start the video.

View Tutorial Via Panopto

View the external link to Report Definition - No Audio. This link will open in a new tab/window.

Updating a Letter Template with Merge Fields

You must have both of the below local college-managed security roles:

  • ZZ_DS_BI_PUB_SETUP
  • ZZ CC Standard Letter Tbl

If you need assistance with the above security roles, please contact your local college supervisor or IT Admin to request role access.

The Communication Data Source is an XML file produced in PeopleSoft that contains all the data fields you want to merge into your letter. BI Publisher Word Plugin connects communication templates and data source files to generate letters or emails for the Communication Generation process. You must download and install BI Publisher Design Helper to update a letter template in Microsoft Word. Visit QRG Download Design Helper (BI Publisher Desktop) for details. You may need to contact college desktop support to install this plugin. After it's installed correctly, the BI Publisher tab appears on the Microsoft Word ribbon.

Download & Save Sample Data File

Navigation:  Reporting Tools > BI Publisher > Create BIP Report Definitions

Identifying a data source before creating/updating letter-template merge fields is necessary. The Data Source Map ID links the XML Data Source to the Communication Generation process.

  1. The Create BIP Report Definitions search page displays.
  2. Search by Report Name and select from the Search Results.
  3. Select the Template tab.
  4. Select Include History.
  5. In the case of an unknown Data Source Map ID,  you can scan the entire list or enter part of the name using "contains" or a wildcard (%). Also, you can search by Administrative Function.
  6. Select Search.
  7. Create BIP Report Definitions page displays.
  8. The Definition Tab contains Sample Data that the Communication Generation process must always extract to accommodate communication functionality.
  9. Select the Sample Data link at the bottom of the page.

Save the XML File

  1. A File Explorer window appears. Save the XML file as an XML Document. The XML file will be needed to load into the Word template using the delivered Design Helper tool during a later step.
  2. The file contains all the fields the Communication Generation process will extract, which can be included as variables in a Word template.
  3. During a later step, the Design Helper (BI Publisher Word Plug-in) tool will load the XML file into the Word template.

Video Tutorial

The video below demonstrates the process actions described in the steps listed above. This video includes audio and closed captioning. Select the play button to start the video.

Video Tutorial Via Panopto

View the external link to Download and Save Sample Data File - No Audio. This link will open in a new tab/window.

Merge Fields

You must have at least one of these local college managed security roles:

  • ZC CC 3Cs User
  • ZZ CC 3Cs Config
  • ZZ CC 3Cs User
  • ZZ CC Standard Letter Tbl

If you need assistance with the above security roles, please contact your local college supervisor or IT Admin to request role access.

Navigation: Reporting Tools > BI Publisher > Create BIP Report Definitions

  1. Once the Sample Data (XML file) has been saved, open Word; you will likely have existing letters that you will want to utilize.
  2. You can load the sample XML data by selecting Data > Load XML Data.
  3. When the data successfully loads, you will receive the following message, "Data loaded successfully." Select "OK," and the box disappears.
  4. A window will open. Navigate to the XML file you saved (e.g., WA200_CTC_AD_DATASOURCE_ADMA).
  5. Move the cursor to where you want the first variable merge field placed in the text.
  6. Click on Insert > Field to add the variable merge fields.
  7. The list of fields appears.
  8. Default fields begin with "Fld," such as "Fld Emplid," "Fld First Name," and "Fld Emailid."
  9. If you cannot locate the field, use the Find box at the top. When you have the field selected, click on the Insert button.
  10. After all merge fields have been set, save the document as an RTF file, then update the template per the steps above. Template file names must be shorter than 65 characters in length. Process complete.
  11. Follow the steps to access the Report Definition and upload the template. 
  12. Test the 3C Engine and CommGen processes in PCD.
  13. Make sure queries pick up the correct students.
  14. Ensure duplicates are not assigned (unless that is your intention).
  15. Make specific Communication Management previews that are accurate.
  16. It is impossible to send emails outside of PCD; check the Communication Management page of each student to ensure that communications are assigned.
  17. Recurring communications can automate scheduled tasks, reducing manual effort during anticipated events. For details, visit QRG Set Up Recurrences for Jobs.

If the merge field is selected and the student has no ctcLink data in the corresponding field, the merge field will appear blank when the communication is generated.

The XML Schema will load fields outside the Merge Field queries. Using only the fields in the Data Source queries identified by Step 1 above is recommended. Other fields may pull data but may not pull from the correct sources. If additional fields are needed in the Data Source queries, submit a ticket to the support team.

After you have completed updating the letter template, it is recommended to delete any downloaded XML Schema files. This requires that you download new XML Schema files each time a Letter Template is updated. This ensures that you will have any new fields available for merging.

Video Tutorial

The video below demonstrates the process actions described in the steps listed above. This video includes audio and closed captioning. Select the play button to start the video.

Video Tutorial Via Panopto

View the external link to Merge Fields - No Audio. This link will open in a new tab/window.

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