In an ever-evolving digital world, legal documents with dotted lines for signatures are perhaps one of the last remaining analog holdouts. However, that too is now going digital, with e-signatures gaining more widespread acceptance.
There are a plethora of services online which allow users to sign documents electronically. DocuSign is one of the most well known, while HelloSign, SignNow, and Citrix RightSign are a few others that make up the rest of the pack.
The basic premise of eSignature services
In order to use an eSignature service, a user must first upload a document that will be scanned by the service. Next, the user will be allowed to define the areas on the document where a signature or some other type of input is required from the signees. Once all this is done, the signable document will be delivered to the specified signees via email.
Everything works seamlessly when it is just one document that needs to be sent across at any given time. However, what if a user needs to frequently send similar sets of documents to different groups of signees, perhaps on a daily basis?
In such scenarios, it may not be wise to require a user to upload documents and define input areas several times over. Not only is this time consuming, but it is also extremely tedious.
Faced with this problem, one of our own clients recently turned to us for help.
Having identified the scale of the problem, our engineers set out to develop a solution that could unite the convenience provided by a service such as DocuSign with the simplicity and seamlessness promised by automation.
Since the client was already using the DocuSign platform to send documents to signees, our engineers decided to build a layer of code that would sit above DocuSign, thus essentially building a customized eSignature platform for the client.
Our solution is expected to allow the input of all details relevant to a signee such as full name, address, etc into a database. Once the data has been input, all the client has to do is select the relevant document, select the name of the signee, and the code will take over the task of populating all the relevant fields with the correct information.
How We Built It
In order to build a code layer that runs atop DocuSign, one must first sign up for a DocuSign developer account and build a sandbox. Visit https://developers.docusign.com/ and sign up to create a sandbox.
Next, an authorization method must be chosen. Due to the need to ensure that the application is able to access the DocuSign API without the need for any human interaction,
Calcey’s engineers chose to use JWT as the authorization model. With JWT in place, our custom application will seek to impersonate a user with a DocuSign login. In order to allow the impersonation to take place smoothly, we must register the application with DocuSign, and ensure that the target user provides explicit permission for the API to use their credentials. It is important to note that the process of granting permission to use one’s login credentials is a one-time action.
You can now choose to create an envelope template, which can
hold a set of documents that require signing. Once the documents have been
uploaded, the user needs to manually specify where data input is necessary on
Note: When creating placeholders, it must be ensured that the template contains one or more signees. It is also important to insert only the role of the signee when creating the template since all other relevant information will be taken care of by the application.
Once all placeholders have been defined, we can consider the template ‘ready’. Now, whenever a user wants to send out documents, the DocuSign API can fetch a list of pre-uploaded templates, allowing the user to pick and choose the correct set of documents to send out. With the aid of the Template ID, the DocuSign API will create what is known as an ‘envelope’ and automatically deliver the documents to the intended recipients.