Create!form 6.0 Delivers More Options for OS/400 Output
September 28, 2004 Alex Woodie
Create!form last week issued Create!form Version 6, the first major release of the core document management application since Bottomline Technologies acquired the company 12 months ago. This latest release includes new features, such as dynamic document repagination, the capability to embed data calculations into documents, support for PCL, and an improved user interface, which should make it easier for users to create and distribute professional looking documents from their enterprise applications.
The Create!form suite of tools helps users to kick the preprinted-form habit and move to cheaper laser printers, while giving them the flexibility to distribute their documents electronically at the same time. The core Create!form engine handles the merging of spool files from OS/400, Unix, or Windows servers with form overlays, as well as the design of those overlays on a Windows PC. Once users have re-created their forms in Create!form, they can control how Create!form distributes the new documents, using a variety of available output modules, including ones for e-mail, fax, print, archiving, MICR checks, and electronic payments.
With Version 6, Create!form (as the Bottomline subsidiary is now known) has made some improvements in the way that Create!form merges those spool files, and in the form design process itself. First, the new dynamic document repagination feature can automatically adjust how many pages are in a report, based on incoming data. This feature is handy for reducing the size of output files and also works for shrinking e-mail attachments and archive sizes, for faster processing, reduced archive bandwidth, and lower fax expenses, the company says.
Along with repagination, the product can now perform data calculations and insert data into repaginated documents. This feature is useful for adding data, such as page subtotals, or performing tax rate conversions directly within the document, Create!form says. There is also a new “intelligent” data table capability in Create!form that should help eliminate some of the drudgery of formatting repeating-item data. The company says that users will gain the ability to “quickly and easily create true auto-expanding, auto-structuring tables with unlimited sorting and grouping capability.”
The GUI for the form design component has also been enhanced with functions like live output preview, data input tree, and thumbnail preview. These new features will help form designers ensure that new forms work as planned, as they are designing them.
For the first time, Create!form is supporting a print data stream other than PostScript. Create!form output can now be sent to printers that read Printer Control Language (PCL)–probably the most common print datastream among laser printers, and supported by most of Create!form’s competitors–in addition to other PostScript and non-PostScript printers.
The new release also features faster processing, support for simultaneous queue processing, and a new, searchable reprint management utility that’s built into the product.
TeamCain, a Create!form distributor based in Ontario, Canada, put its stamp of approval on the new release following a review. Michael Guerin, director of business development at TeamCain, singled out the new document repagination, data calculation, and intelligent table functions as the most compelling new features. Variable subforms and the new built-in reprint management facility are good, too, he says. “We see this release as one of the most compelling output solutions available on the market today,” Guerin says.
There are a number of add-ons Create!form customers can buy to extend their investment in the core Create!form technology, including Create!archive, Create!stream, Create!print, Create!email, Create!fax, CheckDefense, and Create!form ACH modules.
Bottomline Technologies maintains a close relationship with PeopleSoft and sells a version of Create!form specifically for the EnterpriseOne ERP environments, called Create!form v3 PSE1. Currently about 1,250 World and EnterpriseOne shops use Create!form to customize their output, up from about 1,100 in December 2002, when J.D. Edwards tapped Create!form International for an exclusive partnership. Today, Create!form is one of two document management vendors certified for World (the other is Image Integration Systems), and it is one of three document management vendors certified for EnterpriseOne (the others are IIS and Optio Software).
Although this is the first major upgrade to the core Create!form technology, there have been several related Create!form product announcements under Bottomline’s watch. In December, it launched Create!form PSE1 Edition and a new version of Create!stream, the suite’s electronic routing component. In June, the company added Web-based self-service capabilities to Create!archive.
Create!form Version 6 is available now. Pricing starts at about $10,000. For more information, go to www.createform.com.