A domain service for Apache Isis that generate Word .docx documents from a template and HTML input (ie, mail merge). Supports repeating table rows and lists.
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This module, intended for use with Apache Isis, provides a mail-merge capability of input data into an MS Word .docx templates. The generated output document is either Word .docx or Acrobat .pdf.

Note: exporting to PDF requires more memory, both heap and permgen. If the PDF generation hangs then increase the memory settings, eg -Xmx1024m -XX:MaxPermSize=128m

The module consists of a single domain service, DocxService. This provides an API to merge a .docx template against its input data. The input data is represented as a simple HTML file.

The service supports several data types:

  • plain text
  • rich text
  • date
  • bulleted list
  • tables

The implementation uses docx4j, guava and jdom2. Databinding to custom XML parts (the .docx file format's in-built support) is not used (as repeating datasets - required for lists and tables - was not supported prior to Word 2013).

Screenshots and Usage

The following screenshots and code fragments show an example app's usage of the module.

Installing the Fixture Data

Installing fixture data...

... creates a single demo Order entity, with properties of different data types and a collection of child (OrderLine) entities:

The .docx template

The template .docx itself is marked up using smart tags, as specified on the DEVELOPER tab.

The actual .docx used in the example app can be found here.

Generating the Document

In the example app's design the CustomerConfirmation example domain service is in essence an intelligent wrapper around the CustomerConfirmation.docx template. It contributes two actions to Order, the more significant of which is downloadCustomerConfirmation().

The .docx is simply loaded as a simple resource from the classpath:

public class CustomerConfirmation {

    private WordprocessingMLPackage wordprocessingMLPackage;

    public void init() throws IOException, LoadTemplateException {
        final byte[] bytes = Resources.toByteArray(Resources.getResource(
                                this.getClass(), "CustomerConfirmation.docx"));
        wordprocessingMLPackage = docxService.loadPackage(new ByteArrayInputStream(bytes));

A more sophisticated service implementation could perhaps have retrieved and cached the .docx template bytes from a Blob property of a CommunicationTemplate entity, say.

Then, in the downloadCustomerConfirmation contributed action the CustomerConfirmation performs several steps:

  • it converts the Order into the HTML input for the DocxService
  • it calls the DocxService to convert this HTML into a .docx file
  • finally it emits the generated .docx as a Blob; in the web browser this is then downloaded:

This can be seen below:

public Blob downloadCustomerConfirmation(
        final Order order) throws IOException, JDOMException, MergeException {

    final org.w3c.dom.Document w3cDocument = asInputW3cDocument(order);

    final ByteArrayOutputStream docxTarget = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
        w3cDocument, wordprocessingMLPackage, docxTarget, DocxService.MatchingPolicy.LAX);

    final String blobName = "customerConfirmation-" + order.getNumber() + ".docx";
    final String blobMimeType = 
    final byte[] blobBytes = docxTarget.toByteArray();

    return new Blob(blobName, blobMimeType, blobBytes);

Invoking this action is shown below:

which when opened in MS Word looks like:

A similar action downloads the generated document as a PDF:

which when opened in Acrobat looks like:

The CustomerConfirmation service also contributes a second (prototype) action to allow the input HTML document (fed into the DocxService) to be inspected:

which when opened in a simple text editor looks like:

Note how the table rows are repeated for each OrderLine item, and similarly a new bullet list for each Order preference.

How to run the Demo App

The prerequisite software is:

  • Java JDK 8 (>= 1.9.0) or Java JDK 7 (<= 1.8.0) ** note that the compile source and target remains at JDK 7
  • maven 3 (3.2.x is recommended).

To build the demo app:

git clone https://github.com/isisaddons/isis-module-docx.git
mvn clean install

To run the demo app:

mvn antrun:run -P self-host

Then log on using user: sven, password: pass

How to configure/use

You can either use this module "out-of-the-box", or you can fork this repo and extend to your own requirements.


To use "out-of-the-box":

  • update your classpath by adding this dependency in your dom project's pom.xml:
  • if using AppManifest, then update its getModules() method:

    @Override public List> getModules() { return Arrays.asList( ... org.isisaddons.module.docx.DocxModule.class, ); }

  • otherwise, update your WEB-INF/isis.properties:



"Out-of-the-box" (-SNAPSHOT)

If you want to use the current -SNAPSHOT, then the steps are the same as above, except:

  • when updating the classpath, specify the appropriate -SNAPSHOT version:
  • add the repository definition to pick up the most recent snapshot (we use the Cloudbees continuous integration service). We suggest defining the repository in a <profile>:

Forking the repo

If instead you want to extend this module's functionality, then we recommend that you fork this repo. The repo is structured as follows:

  • pom.xml // parent pom
  • dom // the module implementation, depends on Isis applib
  • fixture // fixtures, holding a sample domain objects and fixture scripts; depends on dom
  • integtests // integration tests for the module; depends on fixture
  • webapp // demo webapp (see above screenshots); depends on dom and fixture

Only the dom project is released to Maven Central Repo. The versions of the other modules are purposely left at 0.0.1-SNAPSHOT because they are not intended to be released.

API & Implementation

The main API is:

public void merge(
         String html, 
         InputStream docxTemplate, 
         OutputStream docxTarget, 
         MatchingPolicy matchingPolicy,
         OutputType outputType)
     throws LoadInputException, 

The MatchingPolicy specifies whether unmatched input values or unmatched placeholders in the template are allowed or should be considered as a failure. The OutputType specifies the type of the generated output. Two possible types are supported: DOCX and PDF.

Note: exporting to PDF requires more memory, both heap and permgen. If the PDF generation hangs then increase the memory settings, eg -Xmx1024m -XX:MaxPermSize=128m

Overloaded versions of the merge(...) method exist:

  • the html may instead be provided as a org.w3c.dom.Document
  • the docxTemplate may instead be provided as a doc4j WordprocessingMLPackage (an in-memory object structure that could be considered as analogous to an w3c Document, but representing a .docx).

The WordprocessingMLPackage can be obtained from a supplementary API method:

public WordprocessingMLPackage loadPackage(
        InputStream docxTemplate) 
    throws LoadTemplateException

This exists because the parsing of the input stream into a WordprocessingMLPackage is not particularly quick. Therefore clients may wish to cache this in-memory object structure. If calling the overloaded version of merge(...) that accepts the WordprocessingMLPackage then the service performs a defensive copy of the template.

In the example app the CustomerConfirmation domain service does indeed cache this package in its init() method.

input HTML

The input data is provided as an XHTML form, and the service merges using the @id attribute of the XHTML against the tag of the smart tag field in the .docx.

To specify a plain field, use:

<p id="CustomerId" class="plain">12345</p>

To specify a date field, use:

<p id="RenewalDate" class="date">20-Jan-2013</p>

To specify a rich field, use:

<p id="PromoText" class="rich">
    Roll up, roll up, step right this way!

To specify a list field, use:

<ul id="Albums">
        <p>Please Please Me</p>
        <p>Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band</p>
        <p>Better than Revolver, or not?</p>

To specify a table field, use:

<table id="BandMembers">
        <td>John Lennon</td>
        <td>Rhythm guitar</td>
        <td>Paul McCartney</td>
        <td>Bass guitar</td>
        <td>George Harrison</td>
        <td>Lead guitar</td>
        <td>Ringo Starr</td>

Generated output

For simple data types such as plain text, rich text and date, the service simply substitutes the input data into the placeholder fields in the .docx.

For lists, the service expects the contents of the placeholder to be a bulleted list, with an optional second paragraph of a different style. The service clones the paragraphs for each item in the input list. If the input specifies more than one paragraph in the list item, then the second paragraph from the template is used for those additional paragraphs.

For tables, the service expects the placeholder to be a table, with a header and either one or two body rows. The header is left untouched, the body rows are used as the template for the input data. Any surplus cells in the input data are ignored.

Change Log

  • 1.13.0 - released against Isis 1.13.0
  • 1.12.0 - released against Isis 1.12.0
  • 1.11.0 - released against Isis 1.11.0
  • 1.10.0 - released against Isis 1.10.0
  • 1.9.0 - released against Isis 1.9.0
  • 1.8.1 - released against Isis 1.8.0, support for generate PDF (fixed).
  • 1.8.0 - released against Isis 1.8.0, support for generate PDF (nb: this was a bad release, incorrectly referenced -SNAPSHOT version of Isis core).
  • 1.7.0 - released against Isis 1.7.0
  • 1.6.0 - re-released as part of isisaddons, with classes under package org.isisaddons.module.docx

Legal Stuff


Copyright 2014-2016 Dan Haywood

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the
"License"); you may not use this file except in compliance
with the License.  You may obtain a copy of the License at


Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing,
software distributed under the License is distributed on an
KIND, either express or implied.  See the License for the
specific language governing permissions and limitations
under the License.


In addition to Apache Isis, this module depends on:

  • org.docx4j:docx4j (ASL v2.0 License)
  • org.jdom:jdom2 (ASL v2.0 License)

Maven deploy notes

Only the dom module is deployed, and is done so using Sonatype's OSS support (see user guide).

Release to Sonatype's Snapshot Repo

To deploy a snapshot, use:

pushd dom
mvn clean deploy

The artifacts should be available in Sonatype's Snapshot Repo.

Release an Interim Build

If you have commit access to this project (or a fork of your own) then you can create interim releases using the interim-release.sh script.

The idea is that this will - in a new branch - update the dom/pom.xml with a timestamped version (eg It then pushes the branch (and a tag) to the specified remote.

A CI server such as Jenkins can monitor the branches matching the wildcard origin/interim/* and create a build. These artifacts can then be published to a snapshot repository.

For example:

sh interim-release.sh 1.14.0 origin


  • 1.14.0 is the base release
  • origin is the name of the remote to which you have permissions to write to.

Release to Maven Central

The release.sh script automates the release process. It performs the following:

  • performs a sanity check (mvn clean install -o) that everything builds ok
  • bumps the pom.xml to a specified release version, and tag
  • performs a double check (mvn clean install -o) that everything still builds ok
  • releases the code using mvn clean deploy
  • bumps the pom.xml to a specified release version

For example:

sh release.sh 1.13.0 \
              1.14.0-SNAPSHOT \
              dan@haywood-associates.co.uk \
              "this is not really my passphrase"


  • $1 is the release version
  • $2 is the snapshot version
  • $3 is the email of the secret key (~/.gnupg/secring.gpg) to use for signing
  • $4 is the corresponding passphrase for that secret key.

Other ways of specifying the key and passphrase are available, see the pgp-maven-plugin's documentation).

If the script completes successfully, then push changes:

git push origin master
git push origin 1.13.0

If the script fails to complete, then identify the cause, perform a git reset --hard to start over and fix the issue before trying again. Note that in the dom's pom.xml the nexus-staging-maven-plugin has the autoReleaseAfterClose setting set to true (to automatically stage, close and the release the repo). You may want to set this to false if debugging an issue.

According to Sonatype's guide, it takes about 10 minutes to sync, but up to 2 hours to update search.