JBM Systems Adds Form Design Tool to Document Suite
May 4, 2004 Alex Woodie
JBM Systems is taking its spool management and PDF conversion capabilities to the next level. The Massachusetts company recently launched a suite of document management software, called OctoTools, which combines the company’s PDF conversion capabilities with a new drag-and-drop, Windows-based forms design tool, called OctoDesign. JBM’s iSeries spool file connectivity is still provided through integration with a third-party product.
OS/400 shops looking for an inexpensive solution for replacing their pre-printed forms with electronic documents may want to check out JBM Systems’ newly released OctoTools suite. With a starting price of $2,995, OctoTools can be several times cheaper than other well-known document management systems available for the platform.
OctoTools is a two-part suite that includes the new forms design component, called OctoDesign, as well as the previously available PDF conversion and report bursting components, which have been rebranded as the OctoTools Run Time Engine, and includes OctoPDF and OctoBurst. Both components of OctoTools–OctoDesign and the OctoTools Run Time Engine–are Windows based.
OctoDesign provides a drag-and-drop GUI screen for mapping data fields into electronic forms and for shaping the overall look and feel of the new PDF-based electronic document. The software supports both static and dynamic data with its text boxes and allows users to add visual elements, such as lines, rectangles, ellipses, and picture boxes, to their new documents. Other supported functions include the addition of background fills, borders, shading, and font selection (it supports TrueType fonts); the generation of barcodes; and the capability to search PDFs once they’ve been generated.
Once the forms template has been designed with OctoDesign, the OctoTools Run Time Engine component–the core of the OctoTools suite–takes over. The OctoTools Run Time Engine handles the merging of user’s spool file data with the template and distributes the newly created PDF to its final destination, which could be an e-mail address, a Web site, an archive folder, or a Windows-attached printer. The company provides Windows drivers that it says will allow the OctoTools Run Time Engine to print to nearly any PCL or PostScript printer.
As the new forms design tool shows, JBM Systems is interested in building upon its core set of spool management and file conversion capabilities. A year ago, JBM Systems expanded the capability of its OctoPDF conversion tool with new encryption, watermark, and distribution features (see “JBM Systems Adds Report Bursting to PDF Conversion Utility”). And if the OctoTools Run Time Engine is anything like its predecessor, OctoPDF, it is quite scalable and has proven itself to be able to handle the automatic conversion and distribution of 100,000 pages of AS/400 reports a month (see “OctoPDF Saves Manufacturer from Avalanche of Paper”).
With the new release of OctoTools, JBM Systems has enhanced its OctoTools Run Time Engine component with a new management GUI, which, the company says, simplifies installation and provides visual access to data and variables. But green-screen junkies will be happy to know that there is also a command line interface available.
Like OctoPDF before it, the new OctoTools suite is not a complete document management system, although it is now much closer to becoming one. For accessing OS/400 spool files, and output from Unix, Linux, Windows, and mainframe servers, it relies on a third-party, PC-based print server from Brooks Internet Software called Remote Print Manager. Remote Print Manager works with OctoTools by providing the line printer requester (LPR) interface for intercepting the print data streams from any host acting as the line printer daemon (LPD). There are several flavors of Remote Print Manager available, which range from $115 to $598 per server. JBM Systems is also a reseller for Brooks’ Remote Print Manager product.
OctoTools supports output from OS/400 servers, but the software is entirely Windows-based. Some OS/400 shops may be reluctant to rely on a Windows server for distributing important business documents, and there are document management solutions on the market that run natively on the OS/400 server. Even so, some OS/400 shops are reluctant to use their high-priced CPWs on processor-intensive workloads, such as PDF conversion and forms merging, and for those shops, OctoTools may be a good, low-cost solution for them.
OctoTools is available now. For one and two processor Windows servers, software licenses are $2,995. For three and four processor servers, the single-server price is $4,493. Licenses for educational and governmental organizations are considerably less. For more information, go to www.octotools.com.