Posts tagged Reader
I’ve been doing a piece of work for a customer who wanted a simple form distributed around their organisation for staff to fill in and return. The only additional requirement was that end users need to be able to save the document whilst filling it in. Most of my work to date has been using the Adobe LiveCycle product suite and so I naturally turned to Reader Extensions ES2 which would give end users the ability to save documents offline but comes at a rather large premium in terms of licence costs.
I’d always ignored Acrobat as I’d never needed to use it’s standalone functionality but something about the simplicity of this requirement made me look again. Sure enough since a few versions ago Acrobat now has a form of Reader Extension capability. Form designers can use Acrobat (or Designer) to create their form and distribute it via Acrobat and reader extend it (note to Adobe: make this easier to find in Acrobat X Pro, currently it’s hidden under the “Save As” file menu for some reason).
This all seemed a little too easy and instantly made me want to find some sort of limitation as otherwise Reader Extensions ES2 would look a very expensive option compared to the relative inexpense of purchasing Acrobat X Pro licences. I eventually turned to the EULA, searching for some sort of “gotcha” for this feature. Sure enough there is one (section 16.8.3).
I’m starting a new hands on series for LiveCycle called appropriately: Hands On LiveCycle. This series will give you a complete and working sample LCA (LiveCycle Archive) file that you can import and run on your LiveCycle server. These hands on entries will attempt to solve a real world problem and will start out simple and continue to grow in complexity. If you have a suggestion for a hands on entry you would like to see feel free to let me know!
I’m kicking the series off with a problem that something that most consumers and agencies can relate to. How to handle a form that requires a wet signature, or an actual physical signature on the document.
In a perfect world everyone would accept a digital signature and all forms would be able to be submitted online. However, we don’t live in a perfect world and a good number of companies and government agencies still require a wet signature on a document or form to do business. If you wanted to fill out a form for a financial service or a government request the typical process today might go something like this:
- Download the document
- Print the document
- Fill out the document
- Sign the document
- Mail the document
Once the document is in the mail the process continues:
- Receive the document
- Key in the data in the document to the database
- Store the document on the server
There are quite a few things that can go wrong with this human centric process. The document could get lost in the mail, the user could fat finger the data, causing delays, or the document could be stored in the wrong place. There are several ways that this process can be improved, just by using LiveCycle Reader Extensions, the LiveCycle Foundation Services and the free Adobe Reader (Barcoded Forms is now included with the LiveCycle Reader Extensions service) Using LiveCycle Reader Extensions allows you to automate several pieces of this process and in some cases more, depending on how a company or agency is willing to accept the form.
For this LiveCycle Hands On, it is assumed that the document will be filled out, printed, signed and mailed in by the applicant. Once the document arrives at the agency, it will be scanned and placed in a folder that is watched by LiveCycle. Once LiveCycle sees the document in the folder it will be processed, the applicant data will be stored in a database and the document will be written to the file system.
This process could be made even faster by removing the snail mail portion if the agency was willing to accept a document by email. If so, the applicant could scan the document themselves, attach it to an email and send it to an email address that LiveCycle monitors. Also, with the use of Reader Extensions, the user can now save a copy of the completed form to their hard drive.
Download the zip file: Barcoded_Form_Demo.zip
The zip file for this hands on has a .lca file containing a form, some sample data and a process as well as a sample filled out form and a SQL script to create the demo table. The SQL Script should be run on the server that is hosting the LiveCycle Database and should use the adobe schema. The form will work either as the PDF file included, or if the form is printed out and scanned. LiveCycle is able to decode the information from the barcode either way.
The Barcoded Form Demo Process:
The process is broken down below into steps and the operations used.
- LiveCycle recieves a document from the watched folder to start the process
- LiveCycle extracts the data from the barcode and adds it to a XML variable. Operation: Decode Category: Barcoded Forms
- LiveCycle extracts the XML form data from the barcode data and stores it in an XML list variable. Category: Extract To XML Service: Barcoded Forms
- LiveCycle sets the form data to the first element of the XML list variable. Operation: Set Value Category: Foundation
- LiveCycle inserts the data into the database. Operation: Execute SQL Statement Category: Foundation
- LiveCycle writes the document to the file system. Operation: Write Document Category: Foundation
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will try to answer them as quickly as I can!
Original article at http://www.underprise.com/2011/05/20/using-reader-extensions-and-barcoded-forms/.