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Thread: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

  1. #1
    Member jkwrpc's Avatar
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    Default Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    I wondered if it is possible to load data into the native A5 database by means of .pdf forms or InfoPath forms? I suspect this would need to be a blend of technologies.

    Similarly is it possilbe to pass barcoded info into the native A5 database? I have seen a number of things about creating bars codes but dont recall about reading them a means of gathering data. For those with experience using barcodes with A5 is there a recommendation for one to use?

    Pretty basic questions, my apologies if they have been asked and answered already.

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    Member jkwrpc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Disregard I think I have found what I was looking for.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Quote Originally Posted by jkwrpc View Post
    Disregard I think I have found what I was looking for.
    If you found it, then please post what you found so the next person can use this as a reference.

    Thanks
    Al Buchholz
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    Member jkwrpc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Al - I am still looking through the old forum posts. I tried a different search query, it appears one forum member even offers a barcoding solution and so forth. I just did not want people to waste time on a response if I could find it on my own by being a bit more creative in my searching. So to answer your question, I dont have the definitive answer for me but I have a path I am following.

    As a trial I am thinking of building a .pdf form using LibreOffice which supports a variety of form output formats. I will then try to submit the data from my form to my native A5 database. If it works I will let you know.

    My goal is has 2 objectives. The first is to pre-print a license renewal form with all the information needed for renewal barcoded on the form. Then to be able to scan the barcode into the system once the renewal form has been returned and fees paid. The second is to use a .pdf form to accept information for a new license and allow that information to be input into the system for processing. To be perfectly honest, while I have seen it done so I know the concept has been proven, I have never attempted to code this kind of functionality into an application. I suspect that even if I can put it together I will be facing a number of challenges.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    getting data from a bardcode reader or qr code reader is a piece of cake, just click in a text or memo field and scan, and the contents will be dumped to it.

    Getting data from a pdf will most like either be impossible or difficult and will most likely require a full adobe or similar package that will always be in a read/text format. Otherwise you can use an OCR scanner, but they are not very reliable - i.e., they will will scan with a certain amount of precision, only.
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Martin thanks for the comments. I do not pretend to be a pdf expert but I do know there are applications that use pdf forms as one way to receive data. Clearly I hoped I could scheme out a means to do this in A5. LibreOffice has a fairly robust pdf forms creator though it may be not enough for my task.

    Thanks again

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Doesn't a pdf form give the data up in a csv format?

    Need to find a link to an explanation of it...
    Al Buchholz
    Bookwood Systems, LTD
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    Occam's Razor - KISS
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    Advice offered and questions asked in the spirit of learning how to fish is better than someone giving you a fish.
    When we triage a problem it is much easier to read sample systems than to read a mind.

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    Member jkwrpc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Al - I not sure I can answer about the output formats. It does appear the initial challenge is connecting the forms to data. I have a lot of learning yet to do on the topic. If I can get this to work or some pieces of it to work I will start a separate thread. I guess I am surprised that no one has been telling me it can be done. If there is something in A5 that is stopping it I hope they fix it in a future release. Perhaps Selwyn knows whether this is even possible?

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    I think you'll find answers looking with your favorite search engine...

    searching for 'pdf form data' found this and a lot of other information..

    http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/cr...data-pdf-forms
    Al Buchholz
    Bookwood Systems, LTD
    Weekly QReportBuilder Webinars Thursday 1 pm CST

    Occam's Razor - KISS
    Normalize till it hurts - De-normalize till it works.
    Advice offered and questions asked in the spirit of learning how to fish is better than someone giving you a fish.
    When we triage a problem it is much easier to read sample systems than to read a mind.

  10. #10
    Member jkwrpc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Al - thanks again, I just watched the video on the link you referenced. I continue to believe using electronic forms in conjunction with a A5 desktop app is possible.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Quote Originally Posted by jkwrpc View Post
    Al - thanks again, I just watched the video on the link you referenced. I continue to believe using electronic forms in conjunction with a A5 desktop app is possible.
    I agree.

    I would, but haven't yet tried it.

    I'd take the email that is sent, process the csv that is attached to it and import into a table.

    The caveat that flagged me is the 500 forms (responses) limit.. Gotta find a way to deal with that.
    Al Buchholz
    Bookwood Systems, LTD
    Weekly QReportBuilder Webinars Thursday 1 pm CST

    Occam's Razor - KISS
    Normalize till it hurts - De-normalize till it works.
    Advice offered and questions asked in the spirit of learning how to fish is better than someone giving you a fish.
    When we triage a problem it is much easier to read sample systems than to read a mind.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Okay - I created a simple one field form in LibreOffice. I then used that software's 'export as pdf function' and left the form data as the "FDF" default. When I opened the form using Adobe Reader it would let me fill in the form field but not let me email it or save the form with the data in the field. I double checked my settings in the LibreOffice export funtion and confirmed I had granted permissions to save the data. I checked the Adobe Reader and could not find a setting that would impact saving the changes. So no luck saving the data with the Adobe product.

    I then did some cursory searching on the internet and came to the conclusion that Adobe Reader looks for some special Adobe tagging in the form that will allow it to save the changed data. That does not work because I am creating the form in open source software LibreOffice, so no Adobe tags. I then came across FoxIt RQeader, which is freeware like Adobe Reader. It however, allows me to to open and complete the form and save the data. I was then able to email the completed form with the data. So at this point that much works and without cost.

    Let me say first impressions of FoxIt are very favorable. It appears to be far more robust than the Adobe Reader and is professionally done. They, like a Adobe, do sell a host of pdf creation software at prices appearing to be less than Adobe. For me though, the experiment is using Open Source software to create the forms. The FoxIt Reader is very much worth a look.

    Now I have a completed form, but I need to get the data from it, by a means other than OCR. This may prove to be my show-stopper, but its worth the try. Having electronic forms that can capture the data I want and allow me to get it into the A5 desktop database will be a nice addition to my app if I can pull it off. I will let you know if I make any more progress. Any suggestions or ideas will be appreciated.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Update I just opened my completed sample form in the FoxIt reader and was pleasantly surprised to find it has Form Data Import and Form Data Export functions. The choices include XML, FDF, Text and couple of others. For my experiment I used DataExport -> Text and I found myself the proud owner of text data file containing the data from my form. I suspect I could use XML and then create a script to read the data into my database.

    FoxIt says it supports JavaScript which I have yet to look at, but perhaps it will allow me to add some automation to the process. Right now, it does appear I can create the form in open source sofware LibreOffice, use the FoxIt Reader (freeware) to complete and return the form, then again use FoxIt Reader to save the data from the form in a format than I work with to populate/load fields in my A5 native database.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Acrobat does have a whole "ecosystem" that does what you want, but it is expensive. I did something along these lines for a client that did have Acrobat. With that, Alpha creates a PDF and it is 'automatically" form enabled in Acrobat, which includes a return email address. Alpha sends out all the emails, people fill out the fields on teh PDF form and hit Send button on the form, which puts an email in their outbox to be sent back to my client. At this point they just manually process the returns, due to the cost of some Adobe parts. We had no control over which PDF reader might be used.

    Bill.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Bill

    Am I understanding you correctly that A5 will allow me to build a fillable pdf form that saves the data, and can be returned to the appication without an Adobe investment? If so I had no idea that was possible, and would allow me to bypass the whole LibreOffice stage of my workflow. I am hoping I can find a way to code against the FoxIt Reader objects but I am not that far and I am not hopeful since they market and SDK.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    No that is not what I meant. The client already had purchased Acrobat. What they did not buy was the server part that provides automation of more of the process. I tried to find an alternative to Acrobat for form enabling the PDF. I think I found something that would do it (it has been a few years), but there was no SDK to allow automation from within Alpha.

    So back to acrobat. To avoid buying their expensive server piece I just fed keystrokes to Acrobat from Alpha, simulating a user going through the manual process of form enabling the PDF. A hassle to set up, but it has been working for 4 years just fine.

    Bill.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Bill

    Wishful thinking on my part about being able to create a fillable pdf form in A5. I will go back to chasing how close I can get without incurring costs to the customer or myself. I am glad to hear you were able to populate the form with data from A5. In my other thread, I was able to use the data from the form and simply use and action script to import it to an A5 table. Even with that I have a long way to go with the process, its has too many 'bits' to it. I did contact LibreOffice and they did tell me I could develop against their product. So perhaps I can scheme some office automation processes on that side of things.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    I will be interested to hear what you are able to accomplish.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Bill

    I am still a noobie with A5 but I did just now take a look at the Amuynia (sp) PDF printer driver (the Active X component) in Visual Studio. This is the one that comes with A5. It has a huge number (literally dozens) of properties. At first blush it appears a person can code against them. If true you should be able to create fillable pdf forms in A5 and then possibly extract the data. It includes the email properties and host of other things. I still am pretty clueless about using Active X controls/components in A5.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    Things may have changed, but I called them back when. Even though there was a SDK, it was not able to do what I needed, which was
    1. define form enabled fields
    2. set properties for the fields such as word wrap.
    3. have a button on the form to Submit, which actually creates an email with attachment automatically addressed back to us.
    4. work in Adobe Reader

    I can't remember which part(s) they could not do, but I know 4. was one of them. It required some proprietary Adobe code.

    Bill.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    I will keep probing, but it is quite likely I will be compelled to work from my orginal workflow which included the FoxIt Reader and LibreOffice. Too bad if that proves the case to my way of thinking.

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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    I know this comment is late to the discussion but this take a look at the following product for extracting data from PDF's. It's very ecomonical.
    http://www.a-pdf.com/data-extractor/index.htm
    The latest version of LibreOffice as of May 2013 can create PDF that can be filled in with Adobe and then saved. I've done it!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Is anyone loading data into A5 from .pdf form and bar codes

    i'm using data from a pdf from and importing it into a table.

    I can post the entire routine, if anyone wants, but main part about extracting the fields and data can be done with these 2 functions.
    the text variable is extracted using the file_pointer.read_line() function from the fdf file that contains the form data.
    fields=*pattern_extract(text,"*|/T(*)")
    data =*pattern_extract(text,"*|/V(*)")

    then I wrote some code to put it into this format so it could be imported:
    "field1","field2","field3"
    "data1","data2","data3"

    the fieldnames in the pdf have to match the fieldnames in the table.

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