Getting Started with FlexMail

FlexMail is a variable data design and printing solution, unmatched in its versatility and performance. FlexMail lets you connect to any database, prepare the data for your project, design your output, and print at high quality and high speed on any printer.

This article describes the basic steps to setup a project in FlexMail:


Preparing your data

In FlexMail, you can link to different databases, spreadsheets, and text file formats. FlexMail contains built-in drivers that enable to link the following types of data: Microsoft Access databases, Excel worksheets, fixed-width and delimited text files, and HTML and XML files. Also older formats like dBase, Paradox and Lotus 1-2-3 are supported. For databases in other formats you can link through ODBC drivers.

Linking a database

The first thing you will have to do when you want to create a project, is to link a database. When you link to a database, FlexMail will display all records contained within the database.

To open a database do the following:

  1. On the Datasources tab, click the type of data that you want to link to in the Link External Data group. For example, to open one of the example databases that was installed with FlexMail, click Access.

  2. In the Link Data dialog box, in the File name box, select the source file you want to link and click Open.

FlexMails makes a connection to a database and will display all records the database contains. FlexMail fills the Datasheet with columns for each field and rows for each record in your database.

For more information on linking databases, see Linking databases.

Sorting your data

When you connect a database, FlexMail displays the records in the order they are stored in the database file.You can display the records in a different order by sorting on one or more fields of the database in FlexMail.

To sort the data:

  1. Click on the field or fields you want to use for sorting records on the Datasheet. You can select two or more fields, by pressing CTRL and click the additional fields you want to sort on.

  2. To sort in ascending or descending order, click one of the options in the Sort & Filter group on the Data Tools tab.

FlexMail sorts the data in the order specified. To remove the sort, click Clear All Sorts.

Besides the simple sort described above, you can also define more complex sorts using the Advanced sort command or work with predefined sorts in queries. For more information about sorting your data, see Sorting records.

Selecting records

FlexMail offers several methods to select and display a subset of the records in a database. You can use these commands to specify a condition that the records must meet. Only records that satisfy the specified condition are selected from your database.

To select records containing a specific value:

  1. In a field on the datasheet, find one instance of the value you want records to contain in order to be included in the filter's results.

  2. Activate the filter by clicking Selection in the Sort & Filter group on the Data Tools tab.

    Select Including in the menu that appears.

FlexMail will update the Datasheet, showing only the records that meet the filter condition.

Besides the filter by selection method described above, you can also define more complex filters using the Advanced filter command or work with predefined filters in queries. For more information about filtering your data, see Selecting records.

More information

Depending on the FlexMail edition you are using, FlexMail offers many other features to handle your data, like de-duplication and postal utilities. For an overview, see Datasources, Data tools, and Postal utilities.

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Making a design

Selecting the printer

Before you start with the actual design, it is important that you select the printer that you are going to use to print the project on, because the printer determines the paper sizes available, the printable area, available printer fonts, and other printer specific features.

FlexMail displays the currently selected printer on the right-hand side of the Status Bar at the bottom of your screen. To change the printer:

  1. Click on the Printer name.


    On the Designer tab, in the Printer group, click Select.

  2. In the Print Setup window, select the printer you are using.

    If the printer you want to use is not in the list, you first have to install a printer driver for it. To install one of the drivers supplied with FlexMail, select the File tab and then select Add Printer in the Options group.

Page setup

The next step before creating the layout of your items is to select the correct paper size. All paper sizes are supported. The maximum and minimum sizes are only limited by the printer you have selected. FlexMail also supports designing and printing labels. For more infomation see Using labels

To change the paper size:

Making a layout

With the mouse you add any objects like text, barcodes and graphics to your design.

  1. On the Designer tab, click the type of object that you want to insert in the Insert group. For example, if you want to add a text box, click Text Box.

    The cursor will change from an arrow to a cross.

  2. Click where you want to insert the object.The position where you click will be the top-left corner of the surrounding frame of the object.

  3. For all object (except Autoshapes) a window will open were you can specify the contents and other options for the object.

  4. When you are finished with your settings, click OK.

    The object will now be added to the design. You can repeat the previous steps to add any additional element.

You can move, resize and format all objects with your mouse. Make sure the object is selected. When an object is selected you will see one or more additional tabs displayed at the top of your screen in the ribbon. On this tab you will find all functions available to change contents, properties and format of the selected object(s).

More information

For more information about design features, see Designing output.

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Printing a project

After preparing your data and designing your print item, you can print the result as displayed in the Designer. You can either choose to print all records that are displayed in the Datasheet of you can make a selection of records that you want to print. Before printing the whole job, you can also make a test print or create a proof in PDF format of one or more items.

Selecting the records you want to print

FlexMail has a powerful queueing mechanism that you can use to select records from your datasheet for printing. Basically, you mark all or any selection of records that you want to print for printing by adding them to the print queue.

If you do want to print all records in your datasheet, you do not have to queue any records. You simply proceed with the next steps. However, if you want to print a selection of records, you do the following:

  1. Click Add in the Queue group on the Print tab.

  2. In the menu that pops-up, select one of choices to add the records that you want to print to the print queue.

After you have made your choice, the selected rows will be marked with a green arrow, indicating they are queued for printing.

Selecting the printer and set print options

FlexMail allows you to select any printer available to you and specify printer options. The printer you choose determines some of the FlexMail print options that will be available.

  1. FlexMail displays the currently selected printer on the Printer tab in the Printer group.

    Usually, this should be the correct printer, since you also selected the printer that you are going to use as one of the first steps in making you design. However, if you want to print on another printer, you may select it from the list.

    If the printer you want to use is not in the list, you first have to install a printer driver for it. To install one of the drivers supplied with FlexMail, select the File tab and then select Add Printer in the Options group.

  2. To set the print options and settings for your project now select Options in the Printer group.

    In the Print Setup window, review and modify the options when necessary. The options that are available depend on the printer selected.

Printing a test page or creating a proof

Before actally starting to print your whole project, it is often useful to test both your printer and the settings you have made as well as your design. To make a test print:

  1. With the dataheet activated, select one or more records in the datasheet. To select two or more records, press CTRL and click. To select a range or records press SHIFT and click.

  2. On the Print tab, in the Test group, click Test Print or Create Proof.

FlexMail will print the pages you have selected without showing you the print dialog.

Print the project

You are now ready to start printing. To do so:

  1. On the Print tab, in the Print group, click Start.

  2. The Print window appears. Click OK to start printing.

While FlexMail is printing, it will show the status of each record being printed and when the record has been printed the status will be changed to that by showing a printer icon in the row heading.

More information

FlexMail has many other printing features that are not covered in this topic. For more information see Printing.

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Save a project

To save a project:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Save As.

  3. In the File name box, enter a name for your project.

  4. Click Save.

NOTE: If you have repeating jobs, were the format of the output is the same, but were the database changes, you can also save the projects as a Template.

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