inFORM Widens Forms Design Options with iDocs 4.0
February 8, 2005 Alex Woodie
Last week inFORM Decisions introduced a new release of its iDocs suite that allows OS/400 shops to use any Windows-based graphic design tool to create electronic forms. People who are skilled with front-end programs like Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word can now use the iMap component in iDocs 4.0 to quickly create professional looking forms or reports from iSeries spool data.
The iDocs is a modular suite of document management tools that enable OS/400 shops to replace their pre-printed forms and checks with electronic documents, which saves money and adds flexible distribution options. The iDocs suite uses Printer Control Language (PCL), a Windows-based engine that merges iSeries data with the electronic forms templates for print jobs, and an array of optional components for adding e-mail, fax, and Web distribution, and ACH electronic payment and MICR checks output.
Version 4.0 of iDocs includes the latest release of iMap, a Windows program that inFORM initially launched in May 2003. The iMap makes it easy for people to graphically transform, or “map,” their EBCDIC-based iSeries spool file data to the ASCII-based PCL format used in the iDocs suite. The program does this by allowing users to highlight data displayed on the iSeries spool file, which is displayed on one side of the split-screen interface, and to drop it onto the corresponding area of the iDocs form they are creating on the other side of the screen. Graphics and fonts can also be controlled through iMap, and when users are done, they simply click the “upload” button to move the new mapping files and reports to the iSeries IFS.
Flexibility is important to iDocs users, and is therefore important to inFORM Decisions, says Dan Forster, president of the Rancho Margarita, California, company. The “iDocs tools bend to user requirements,” Forster says. “Our direction for iDocs is to offer tools that let users approach their document challenges from many different angles.”
In the past, inFORM customers had to use the inFORM design tool to do the initial data field mapping and form design. “Now users can use any Windows-compliant form development tool they wish: Microsoft Word, Excel, Visio, Adobe, PowerPoint, et cetera,” Forster says. “Many of our competitors sell their own proprietary designer, as we did, and still will, but telling customers they can now use whatever they’re comfortable with is a nice feature.”
Users don’t miss out on any finishing options supported by iDocs by using iMap in conjunction with their favorite Windows design tool. That’s because these options, such as staple and hole-punch options, mail box sorting, duplex, collate, orientation, conditional mapping or overlaying, and ‘smart routing,’ are handled by iDocs after the form design stage.
The inFORM has also enhanced the traditional iDocs forms design tool with Version 4.0 by making the document-, form-, and report-creation processes much easier to use, the company says. Specifically, this component has been improved in the navigation, prompting, and scrolling departments.
The e-mail distribution module in the iDocs suite, called iMail, has also been enhanced with this release. A new out queue monitor in the new release enables e-mail to be automatically distributed to certain users based on the values of various fields, including recipient, CC, subject line, and body of the message itself.
Licenses for iDocs 4.0 start at $2,995. For more information, go to www.informdecisions.com.