Online first: one data source, several formats.

Companies increasingly agree that the future of reporting lies in the Web.

Following the Online First approach, various formats can be generated from the HTML report at the push of a button: ever since this approach was developed, nexxar has acted as a one-stop provider for PDFs, iPad apps and even on-demand print editions.

Companies increasingly agree that the future of reporting lies in the Web. Compared to printed reports, however, online versions still reach their limits in some aspects. Printed texts, for instance, are easier to read than their on-screen counterparts, and they might be considered to be better suited for promoting a company’s image. In addition, many stakeholders still prefer a printed report or at least require a PDF version of it.

Online First approach

So how can companies shift priorities regarding publication formats without, in turn, ignoring their stakeholders’ needs and preferences? One possible solution is nexxar’s Online First approach. In contrast to traditional reporting projects, the HTML version forms the basis for all other reporting formats. At the push of a button, the contents of the web version are automatically transferred to other formats such as a PDF or an iPad app where the layout can be adjusted according to individual requirements.

More precisely, this means that all format settings (font size, font colour, character spacing, etc.) may be adjusted individually for the PDF according to what is required by the clients. Corporate fonts can be implemented just as well as a guided index, page headers and footers or logos. This allows for the best possible consistency with a company’s print style guide. In addition, interactive elements of the online report (e.g. links) can be transferred to the PDF version. It is even possible to adapt the PDF so that it meets hardcover print requirements.

Web concept and planning

Compared to traditional reporting projects, two significant changes arise right from the start: On the one hand, a distinct concept and thorough planning are needed. Since the report is primarily designed for the Web, considerably more importance must be attached to the specific needs of online readers.

On the other hand, companies can involve themselves to a greater extent in the Online First process. Once the contents of the report have been entered into the Content Management System (CMS), companies are able to modify the contents themselves via a secured access.

More efficiency

The benefits of this approach are obvious: stakeholders can still take advantage of a fully- fledged printable PDF, which can even be adjusted to be printed and bound as a hardcover edition. Since the contents of the online report are entered into the PDF automatically rather than manually, there are no additional typesetting costs or other efforts. The cumbersome process of matching the print against the online version is also a thing of the past because the PDF always corresponds exactly to the contents of the online report.

The first projects that were put into practice are highly promising. In 2013, the sustainability reports of Barclays, Linde, Merck and Wacker, among others, were implemented according to the above-mentioned procedure, consisting of an HTML version and an automatically generated PDF. Simultaneously, nexxar continues to develop its technical tools. Our agenda includes, inter alia, new CMS features and a version control system.

Interested? Send us an e-mail to to get a full product sheet as a PDF.


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