inFORM Decisions Adds Conditioning to Data Mapping Tool
July 26, 2011 Dan Burger
Big things come in small packages. For instance, version 3 of the iMap electronic forms utility just released by inFORM Decisions. It is the mapping component for iForms, the company’s suite of products for converting spool files into laser printer output or electronic documents, which run natively on the IBM i platform. With version 3, it should be easier for non-technical people to customize how iMap distributes documents.
iForms was designed to allow companies to create their own business forms and reports rather than purchasing those documents from printing vendors and incurring those costs. And for companies that are moving from paper-based to electronic forms, iForms provides distribution and storage capabilities as well. The operations run on Power Systems servers running IBM i, where it benefits from faster processing speeds than competitors running on Windows boxes.
Most discussions about forms creation begin with three principle issues: designing the form, mapping the data, and defining the business rules. Data mapping is the capability that iMap provides and one of its key features is its capability to work with many forms designers. Forms could be designed in Microsoft Word, Power Point, Excel, Adobe PDFs or other origins and the data mapping process can be done with iMap, using the above-mentioned forms as overlays.
You’ll find many vendors with a single utility for designing forms, and the data mapping utility only pulls spool file info into forms designed with that tool.
“We decided to do things differently,” says inFORM Decisions president Dan Forster. “There are many cool design tools available, including one that we have in our product suite. But we made iMap so that any form is compatible. The spool file information and the form of the user’s choice are both displayed on a split-screen monitor. The user highlights the info he or she wants from the spool file and can drag and drop it in the correct field. Everyone has to map data. We designed this way of doing it that doesn’t limit where the form comes from.”
This capability is not new with iMap 3.0, which, by the way, runs in both Windows XP and Windows 7 environments, including 32- and 64-bit versions. It’s after the mapping is done that the information is uploaded to the IBM i server.
The newest enhancements in iMap 3.0 concern the conditions that are placed on that data. The conditions include directions to email, fax, archive, or print. These are aspects that can improve workflow and business processes.
“We add a lot of intelligence to document distribution,” Forster claims. “This usually comes up in the middle of an implementation when a company realizes it wants to do things like burst a report, convert it to a PDF, and email it to a variety of people. That is where setting up conditions automates the processes.”
Defining conditions within iMap is a significant improvement in terms of convenience and ease-of-use for the non-programmer, administration person.
The other notable upgrade that has been added to iMap 3.0 is the capability to map database data in addition to spool file data. This can come in handy when information cannot be obtained in the spool files.
inFORM Decisions packages iMap as an $800 utility that’s bundled into its iForms product suite. According to Forster, 99 percent of the people who buy iForms buy iMap. Without it, they are mapping data using green screens and only a few customers want to continue doing things that way.