InterForm Launches Embedded PDF
December 4, 2012 Alex Woodie
The big “turducken” craze has passed, to the great relief of responsible foodies and heart surgeons everywhere. But the business IT equivalent of turducken–stuffing business documents inside of other business documents–is just taking off. IBM i document management software vendor InterForm is one of the first companies to take advantage of the new capability in the PDF standard that enables users to literally stuff other documents–including Word docs, TIFFS, XLS spreadsheets, or other PDFs–right into a PDF.
InterForm CEO Peter Sørensen says the new Embedded PDF software will be a big timesaver for accounting departments that are constantly fetching old invoices and resending them to customers who have misplaced or lost the originals and need to match them against a statement or a credit note that they just received. Instead of dealing with the inevitable phone calls and emails from customers requesting the old invoices be re-sent, companies can automatically re-send invoices by embedding them right into the PDF-based statement or credit note when it’s generated.
Embedded documents can be easily opened by double-clicking in the source document. InterForm uses an icon of a paperclip to signal to the user that there are embedded documents within a PDF. When there’s a list of invoices, such as in a statement, the embedded invoices will become highlighted when the user moves his mouse over them, and will open as a separate document when double-clicked. Also, PDFs generated with Embedded PDF will automatically open a separate window in the PDF viewer that lists all the embedded documents.
“If I was sending you this [embedded PDF], you would have all the information you need when you receive the document, so you don’t need to go look for the old invoice,” Sørensen says. “Everything is in the document when you receive it. There’s no link taking you somewhere, so there’s no need to be online.”
Embedded PDF works the spool file merge engine in InterForm/400, the Danish company’s flagship document management software product (it’s called ArtForm/400 in the United States due to copyright reasons). Embedded PDF utilizes InterForm/400’s rules engine that tells it how to handle IBM i spool files. The software can be configured to always embed an invoice when it’s listed in a statement.
“Once you define it once, you don’t have to worry about this any more because it just runs automatically,” Sørensen says. “This is definitely something that will improve how you communicate with your customers because you give them all the information they need.”
Embedded PDF is based on the PDF/A-3 standard, which was ratified in October of this year and allows for embedding arbitrary documents within PDF. Earlier this year, InterForm launched support for PDF/A, an archival standard that makes PDF files smaller and more amenable for long-term storage.
Embedded PDF has more uses beyond facilitating easy invoice matching for your customers. The software can also be used to automatically generate and embed terms and conditions documents for specific customers, such as those that speak German, Chinese, etc. In the old days, the terms and conditions were typically listed on the back of an invoice. But duplex printing simply doesn’t exist in the new electronic world, so embedding them in electronic invoices makes a lot of sense.
Embedded PDFs can also be useful in certain industries, such as the building industry. Engineering and construction firms are often required to keep track of building materials, such as the exact type of steel used in buildings and the forge where it was born. Embedded PDF can automate the paperwork involved in ensuring these certificates are included when required.
Embedded PDF is already in production with several InterForm/400 customers who are early adopters. Licenses for the software are tier-based and start at €1,500 (about $1,950 at current exchange rates) at the P-05 level. For more information see www.interform400.com.