PDFs That Automatically Submit Data to IBM i
April 15, 2014 Alex Woodie
New software from Computer Keyes allows users to do something pretty cool. Presented with a PDF document, the user enters his data, presses the “submit” button, and the document is automatically uploaded to the IBM i server where applications can process it. The new capability is the result of updates to two Computer Keyes products, including kLink and KeyesOverlay.
By all accounts, PDFs have become the defacto standard format for businesses and consumers to exchange documents over the Internet. Whether you’re submitting an invoice, applying for a mortgage, or transmitting a scanned document, chances are good that Adobe‘s Portable Document Format is being used.
With Computer Keyes’ new software, an IBM i shop can use PDFs as the conduit for a forms-based, online application, which may be considerably cheaper and easier than developing a full Web or mobile app.
It all starts with KeyesOverlay, the company’s forms overlay software that generates attractive documents from standard .SCS spool file output. The company recently added support for interactive fields in PDFs. It also added the capability to have KeyesOverlay automatically fill in PDF fields, such as customer name or phone number. IBM i shops can also add text fields, check boxes, digital signatures, hidden fields, and submit buttons directly into their PDFs.
Upon receipt of an interactive PDF (via email, Web download, or direct download from the IBM i server), the customer could choose to type in the requisite information, save the document, and email it back to the company. A better method, however, is to simply click the “submit” button that the IBM i shop added to the document. That submit button is associated with a URL, and will automatically submit the completed form back to the IBM i shop over the Web via the kLink software.
Computer Keyes introduced kLink about a year ago to help IBM i shops open up their IBM i servers’ Integrated File Systems (IFS) and start sharing and distributing the PDFs, Word docs, and image files that are often stored inside. When paired with KeyesOverlay, it can be used to accept the submitted PDF document and send a confirmation message back to the customer’s screen.
It’s worth noting that KeyesOverlay allows users to create interactive PDFs from just about any document generated from a word processor (i.e. Word, Notepad, WordPerfect, or AmiPro, etc.). As long as you can copy and paste the text, KeyesOverlay will allow you to add interactive fields. Alternatively, users can generate an entire document from scratch using Keyes mapping tool.