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Midrange Stuff - Hardware, Software & Services
OS/400 Edition
Volume 2, Number 10 -- March 12, 2002

Quadrant Adds Improved Client, Change Management with Formtastic Fusion5

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Quadrant Software, one of the big players in the midrange document management software market, has announced a new version of its Formtastic Fusion software that includes five new features that make it easier to design and keep track of electronic documents associated with OS/400 applications. Formtastic Fusion5, which began shipping a few weeks ago, integrates with popular OS/400 ERP applications, including those from J.D. Edwards, MAPICS, and SSA Global Technologies, Friedman, daly.commerce, Lawson, Computer Associates, and others.

Formtastic Fusion5 is a follow-on to the Fusion4.8 release, and it replaces that release as the current Quadrant electronic document management program for creating bar code labels, MICR checks, and other kinds of electronic forms based on OS/400 spool files. The program is a hybrid OS/400-Windows application, meaning a portion of it runs on an AS/400 or iSeries server, and another portion runs on a Windows desktop. Sources at Quadrant say that Formtastic Fusion5 has been rewritten so its graphical forms designer more closely resembles the look and feel of Microsoft's more recent Windows operating systems. The OS/400 portion of the application has also been enhanced as well. Formtastic Fusion5 will run on any 32-bit Windows client, including Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows XP. The OS/400 portion of the application requires OS/400 V4R3 or higher and will run on any PowerPC-based AS/400 or iSeries machine.

Formtastic Fusion5 has five main components. The DesignerPRO feature is a new graphical document design tool that the company says is a big improvement over the form designer in Formtastic Fusion4.8. This designer has a two-window, split-screen interface that allows designers to have OS/400 text-based spool files in one window and the graphical form they want to create based on this spool file in the other window. Designers can drop and drag elements from the spool file over to the form design window to create the electronic form. Companies can add images, change fonts, convert numbers to bar codes, and add other graphical elements to these forms using DesignerPRO. Color fonts were added in this new version for companies that have color printers, which have come down dramatically in price in recent years.

The updated electronic document management program from Quadrant also includes VersionManager, which is a change management feature that has check-in and check-out control for documents so people working on a set of documents together do not mess things up. The new version of Formtastic Fusion includes a program called SmartMAP, which renders electronic documents created with the tool on the screen for different printers. This way, forms designers can preview a document they create and see that it will print correctly on all of the printers they have attached to their OS/400 servers and networks without having to physically print the form to each of those machines. (Every printer has its own fonts, page description language, and quirks.) Formtastic Fusion5 also includes a feature called IntelliDOC, which allows forms designers to add program logic to the forms at the Fusion5 end of the process to automatically create and distribute documents rather than having to make changes in OS/400's spool files to accomplish the same task. And finally, Formtastic Fusion5 includes a feature called Synchronizer, which keeps the components of electronic forms--images, fonts, and so forth--in synch on the OS/400 servers that have the spool files behind the documents and the Windows clients that create the documents. This is particularly important for companies that use Quadrant's OS/400-based versions of its FastFax and eDocMail fax and email serving programs. The Formtastic Fusion5 tool can be integrated into these Quadrant programs, incidentally.

The Formtastic Fusion5 tool can convert and move ahead forms that were generated using any of the prior versions and releases of the tool; the program made its initial debut back in the middle of 2000. Pricing for Formtastic Fusion5 is based on a mix of tier-based pricing on the OS/500 side and client-based pricing on the Windows side. The average starting price for Formtastic Fusion5 is $13,500, which includes an iSeries server in the P10 software group and a single Windows designer client.

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