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Utilise 3rd party OCR Engines in Muhimbi’s range of Server Side PDF Products

Posted at: 4:39 PM on 12 July 2017 by Muhimbi

OCR-LogoSeveral years ago we added support for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to our popular range of server side PDF Conversion products including the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint and the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services. This facility is working well for those customers who are using our PDF Converter Professional Add-on license, including some VERY high-profile deployments.

However, some of our customers already have a complex, mature and in some cases very expensive OCR infrastructure in place. They prefer to leverage this existing investment rather than replace it with Muhimbi’s OCR offering, which makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, up until now, it has never been possible to use multiple OCR engines in combination with our products.

That changes today with the introduction of our modular OCR system, and the first implementation based on PrimeOCR. Our default OCR engine can now be swapped out, or used side by side, with products from other vendors. This provides a number of benefits, including:

  • Unified API, all OCR engines are accessible via the same mature and scalable web services interface, which is accessible from most modern platforms including Java, C#, VB.net, PHP, Ruby, Python. No need to try and call directly into vendor specific DLLs.
  • Use multiple OCR engines in parallel to deal with specific document types, or languages, they specialise in.
  • Leverage Muhimbi’s processing pipeline to bring 3rd Party OCR engines to Nintex Workflow, SharePoint Designer, K2 and various programming languages.
  • Combine OCR operations with other functionality provided by the Muhimbi PDF Converter including the ability to convert , Merge, Watermark and Secure files.

 
This new facility is part of the 8.3.1 beta release, contact us for access.

 
Based on customer demand, PrimeOCR is the first 3rd party engine we bring to our platform. If you would like to see your preferred OCR platform to be included as well, leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk.

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Converting HTML / Web content to PDF Using SharePoint, C#, Java and PHP

Posted at: 5:41 PM on 21 June 2017 by Muhimbi

HTML5 logo and wordmarkWhen we originally released the Muhimbi PDF Converter (SharePoint on-premise, SharePoint Online, non-SharePoint), our assumption was that the majority of our customers wanted to convert MS-Office content such as Word, Excel, InfoPath, Visio and PowerPoint to PDF. Although that is certainly a common use case, we were surprised by the number of people wanting to convert HTML content, specifically SharePoint pages such as Wikis, publishing pages, Nintex Forms, and the ‘properties page’ for List and Document Library items.

Although this worked very well for a long time, some of our back-end logic leverages Internet Explorer’s internal rendering engine, which has been causing more and more issues over the years while Microsoft – for good reasons – made some fundamental changes to IE’s internal workings. As a result, when using a ‘pre-8.3 release of the converter, you may find that particularly HTML5 pages (e.g. SP2013 and later) are rendered as bitmaps and ‘overflow CSS’ elements are cut-off.

As web pages become increasingly rich, with JavaScript and other clever CSS constructs, we decided to make the main focus of the 8.3 release a completely overhauled HTML Converter. We couldn’t be happier with the results as it makes our converter compatible with the latest and greatest web technologies. HTML 5 content is converted properly, the output intent can be switched between Print and Screen CSS media types and … here’s the kicker ..  SharePoint Online content can be converted as well.
 

The new Converter is part of the 8.3 beta release, contact us for access and mention your platform (Online or on-premise)
 

SharePointConversionOriginal SharePoint Web page (left), converted to PDF using the Screen Media type (middle) and the Print Media type (right)

 
The key features are as follows:

  1. Brand new conversion engine with support for JavaScript, CSS and HTML5.
  2. Support for Print and Screen CSS media types to optimise output for Print / PDF Conversion.
  3. Available to all client technology including Nintex Workflow, Nintex Forms, SharePoint Designer, Flow, Logic Apps, REST & Web Services API as well as the SharePoint User interface.
  4. Enabled by default, with the option to switch back to the legacy HTML Converter using our API or config file.
  5. The MSG and EML Converter uses the new engine by default for HTML based emails.
  6. Support for converting SharePoint Online URLs.
  7. Improved error reporting, including authentication related issues.
  8. Control conversion delay between initially loading the page, including JavaScript rendering, and starting the actual PDF Conversion process.
  9. Modify the ‘View Port’ size to allow responsive web content to output the appropriate version (e.g. mobile or desktop version)

    HTMLConversion-NWWe support it all, Nintex Workflow 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016

     

    HTMLConversion-SPDSharePoint Designer Workflows are supported as well ranging from SP2007-2016, including Workflow Manager

     

    Caveats

    Please keep in mind that HTML is not the best format for print or PDF Conversion purposes. Although our new HTML Converter is much improved, it is not magic. Depending on your exact needs / system settings you may need to experiment with the various settings. Our support desk staff is very experienced, so contact us if you have any questions or require assistance.

    Some points to take into account:

    1. When converting SharePoint content, it is recommended to disabled the ‘Minimal Download Strategy’ SharePoint Feature as it really gets in the way. (See this article for details). If this is not an option then set the conversion delay (see below) to 1000 (milliseconds).
    2. The Conversion Services will need to authenticate against the page you are looking to convert. The HTML Converter fits in with Windows’ standard security model, so you may need to tweak the server’s internet settings as per this Knowledge Base article. Naturally you have to make sure that the account the Conversion Service runs under has the appropriate privileges to read the page that is being converted.
    3. Modern web based content is VERY complex. It is no longer a couple of HTML elements that make up the design of a page. External JavaScript is loaded, as is third party content in iframes, part of the page is rendered by JavaScript, CSS modifies the look and feel of the page depending on the media type, basically there is no clear point in time for our Converter to start the PDF Conversion process. Our software tries to make the most of it though, and in many cases succeeds using the default settings. For those situations where HTML content is converted too early (e.g. a ‘please wait, loading’ or similar message is displayed in the PDF) it is possible to tweak the Conversion Delay setting. 
    4. The converter has no knowledge of the current user’s browser session. If the user has modified the page (e.g. collapsed / opened certain sections) or has made changes to the page without saving, then the converter will not reflect these changes. When converting HTML to PDF, the Converter requests the specified URL from scratch using the credentials of the account the Conversion Service runs under.

     

    Any questions or comments? Leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk, we love to help.

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    PDF Converter for SharePoint Online 9.9 - MS-Flow, API & Long running operations

    Posted at: 11:43 AM on 27 April 2017 by Muhimbi

    sharepoint-online-logoIn addition to releasing new versions of the on-premise editions of our popular PDF Converter for SharePoint and PDF Converter Services (for C#, Java, PHP), our team has been working hard on a new  PDF Converter for SharePoint Online release.

    This new release – version 9.9 already -  was rolled out a few weeks ago and has reached all our customers by the time you read this. In addition to making some improvements in the areas of copying metadata and real-time watermarking, we have also added support for Microsoft Flow (inc PowerApps and Logic Apps), a new REST based API that makes it easy to integrate our Online software in your own JavaScript, C#, PHP, Java, Python and Ruby code, and key changes have been made to the way our workflow actions deal with (very) long running operations.
     

    Please note that all SharePoint Online versions are numbered in the 9.X range. At the time of writing the most recent version of the on-premise software is 8.2.
     

    For more details see :

     
    If you are an existing customer, or installed a trial version before May 2017, then we recommend installing the latest workflow actions for the best possible experience.
     
       
     
    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online is a lightweight subscription based solution that allows end-users to merge, split, watermark, secure, OCR and convert common document types - including InfoPath, AutoCAD, MSG (email) MS-Office, HTML and images - to PDF using SharePoint Online through a friendly user interface or via workflows, without the need to install any client side software or Adobe Acrobat. More details can be found on the
    product page. 
      

    Muhimbi Flow ActionsAn overview of all our Actions in Microsoft Flow.


    In addition to the changes listed above, some of the main changes and additions in the new version are as follows:

    2853 API New Expose all functionality via a REST based API
    2803 Flow New Add support for Microsoft Flow
    3035 Metadata Fix Copying metadata for Enterprise Keywords to office documents (doc, ppt, etc) stopped working
    2964 Metadata Fix Copying metadata for on-prem collections migrated to Online using ShareGate causes errors
    3031 Metadata Improvement Make copying of metadata more resilient when Microsoft's SharePoint Online team make changes
    2950 Metadata Improvement Skip Workflow status field when copying metadata
    2874 System Improvement Implement automatically renewal of token using redirects instead of session expiry error
    2875 System Improvement Always include primary contact in alert emails
    2905 TOC Improvement Improve generation of Table of Contents
    2767 UI Fix Improve situation where multiple folder pickers are active at the same time
    3011 UI Improvement Improve performance of folder picker on very complex sites
    2965 UI Improvement Batch conversion using UI - Source file is missing in display data
    2866 UI Improvement Change the message when a file is not supported by the converter
    2865 UI Improvement Allow for the User Interface to be completely disabled in the APP (so workflow only)
    2762 Watermarking Fix Filtering for empty fields doesn't work as expected
    3049 Watermarking Fix Improve security around real-time watermarking
    3061 Watermarking Fix Reading user profile in real-time watermark stopped working due to Microsoft change
    2931 Watermarking Fix Cannot open a file within a folder using special characters
    2891 Watermarking Fix Date/time filter does not work as expected
    2880 Watermarking Fix Filtering for 'opened by' and using '[me]' does not work as expected
    2987 Watermarking Improvement Add warning when people are using ‘modern Document Libraries’
    2903 Workflow Improvement Add support for (very) long running workflow operations
    2867 Workflow Improvement Allow any file location to be specified as the source file in workflows
    2857 Workflow Improvement Implement xml overrides for InfoPath conversion
    3005 Workflow New Add 'DocumentStartPage' parameter to Merge activity


    For more information check out the following resources:


    As always, feel free to contact us using Twitter, our Blog, regular email or subscribe to our newsletter.
     

    Start your 30 day trial by installing the App and Workflow Actions

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    Use Microsoft Flow to convert and archive incoming emails in PDF format

    Posted at: 2:45 PM on 12 April 2017 by Muhimbi

    gmailAs part of our ongoing series about using the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online in combination with Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps and PowerApps, we present an example about how to automatically convert the body of incoming emails to PDF, and archive the results in DropBox.

    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online is a popular product to PDF Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files from Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps, PowerApps as well as your own code using C#, Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby and most other modern platforms. Leave a message below or contact us if you have any questions.

     

    Earlier today we were contacted by a Flow user who wanted to convert incoming emails to PDF. Now, the Muhimbi PDF Converter actually comes with an awesome email to PDF converter, but it expects an MSG or EML file as the input. Unfortunately the various email based triggers that currently ship with Flow (Outlook for Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail) do not provide files in this format (Please vote here to have it added).  Instead, they expose the message Body, Subject, From, To, Attachments etc.

    Even though the MSG file is not available, all the individual elements are. We managed to ‘knock up’ a functional email to PDF converter using Flow in absolute no-time. You may want to customise it further by using the Compose Action to add the subject, from and to fields to the body before sending it into the PDF Converter. You can even use our Merge documents Action to convert the attachments and merge them all, alongside the main body, into a single PDF.

    Similar to our other examples, this Flow is just a starting point. You can use a different email service as a trigger (outlook.com, Outlook for Office 365) and send the generated PDF to SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Drive, email, you name it.

     

    From a high level, the Flow works as follows:

    Convert Email Body to PDF - Overview
    The full Flow can be found below. It is automatically created by the Flow Template named Convert Email to PDF and archive in DropBox. After selecting the template make sure the following fields are changed:

    • DropBox Output folder (for HTML emails): The DropBox folder to write the PDF files to.
    • DropBox Output folder (for Text emails): The DropBox folder to write the PDF files to.
       

    The Flow itself is relatively straight-forward, but there is one complication. Email may appear to be a simple format, but content can be represented in HTML format, Plain Text and even RTF. Depending on the format we need to send the body either to the HTML converter or the Text converter. In this Flow we use a simple and dirty trick, which is to check if either ‘<html’, ‘<p’ or ‘<br’ can be found in the email body. If it is then we send it to the HTML converter, otherwise the Text converter.

     

    Convert Email Body to PDF - Detail - Part 1Convert Email Body to PDF - Detail - Part 2Convert Email Body to PDF - Detail - Part 3 
    That is all there is to it. I left this flow running by mistake and when I came in the next day DropBox had synced dozens of emails to my local PC. They looked brilliantly though when opened in a PDF reader.

     

    For more details about using Muhimbi’s Flow actions, see the Core Concepts knowledge base article as well as all other Flow related posts.

    If you have any questions about extending this template, or implementing it in your environment, then please leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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    Use Microsoft Flow to Convert HTML / Blog posts to PDF

    Posted at: 11:43 AM on by Muhimbi

    rss

    As part of our ongoing series about using the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online in combination with Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps and PowerApps, we present a useful example which converts a blog post (basically HTML) to PDF when a new post is added to an RSS feed.

    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online is a popular product to PDF Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files from Microsoft Flow, LogicApps, PowerApps as well as your own code using C#, Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby and most other modern platforms. Leave a message below or contact us if you have any questions.

     

    We needed a good showcase for converting HTML to PDF. It was hard to narrow it down as everything nowadays is HTML. We settled for combining our HTML conversion sample with one of Flow’s other services, the ability to trigger a Flow when a new post is added to a Blog.

    Once converted, the PDF is sent to the author of the Flow, but remember that this is just an example. Other options are to archive the generated PDF somewhere in SharePoint, DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive or other file storage system. This example uses the RSS feed for the Microsoft Flow blog, naturally any other RSS feed or web page can be used as well.

     

    From a high level, the Flow works as follows:

    Convert Blog Post & Email - Overview


    The full Flow can be found below. It is automatically created by the Flow Template named Send updates from the Flow blog as a PDF by email. Although the default settings are fully functional (send a PDF copy of Flow related blog posts), you may want to change the following fields:

    • RSS feed URL: The URL of the RSS feed to monitor for new posts. Try changing it to http://feeds.feedburner.com/MuhimbiBlog.
    • Email recipients: The recipient of the generated PDF.
       
    Convert Blog Post & Email - Detail - Part 1

    Convert Blog Post & Email - Detail - Part 2 
    That is all there is to it. We were pleasantly surprised by the usefulness of this simple flow. New blog posts are delivered by email to your mobile device overnight. While commuting on a train with a spotty internet connection we were able to read our favourite blog posts.

    For more details about using Muhimbi’s Flow actions, see the Core Concepts knowledge base article as well as all other Flow related posts.

    If you have any questions about extending this template, or implementing it in your environment, then please leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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    Use Flow to PDF Convert email attachments to OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive etc

    Posted at: 1:44 PM on 31 March 2017 by Muhimbi

    outlookAs part of our ongoing series about using the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online in combination with Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps and PowerApps, we present a cool example which converts all email attachments to PDF and archives them to a file service.

    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online is a popular product to PDF Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files from Microsoft Flow, Logic Apps, PowerApps as well as your own code using C#, Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby and most other modern platforms. Leave a message below or contact us if you have any questions.

     

    The examples in this series are becoming increasingly complex, so today we have to dig slightly deeper than before.

    In this example we’ll show how to create a simple Flow that is triggered whenever an email – containing attachments – is received in Office 365 Outlook. The Flow then iterates over all attachments and converts the ones it knows how to convert to PDF. The resulting PDF files are archived to a OneDrive for Business folder, which will sync the files to other systems providing the sync client is installed somewhere.

    Remember that this is just an example, it can easily be modified to use different email providers (Outlook.com, Gmail) and the converted attachments can be written to (or emailed) via any of the 100+ available Flow services, including Google Drive, Box.com, DropBox, OneDrive, SharePoint etc.

    There are many reasons for building a workflow like this one. What we hear a lot from customers who do something similar, is that their regulatory body dictates that all files are made available, and discoverable, in a standardised format. PDF (specifically PDF/A which we support as an option) is often the format of choice.

     

    From a high level, the Flow works as follows:

    PDF Attachments - Overview

     

    The full Flow can be found below. It is automatically created by the Flow Template named Archive email attachments in PDF format to OneDrive, it is just a matter of filling out the blanks, specifically:

    • Save to OneDrive – Folder path: Specify the path in OneDrive where the converted attachments will be written to.

     
    There is something important to keep in mind for this particular template / example and that is that all files are written to a flat folder. If we use the original attachment file name to save the PDF in OneDrive then files would potentially be overwritten if a single email has multiple attachments with the same name (rare but possible) or multiple emails are processed and some use an attachment with the same name (more common).

    To get around this we use the Compose action to convert the time that the workflow is executed, which matches the time the email is received, and clean it up for use in file names (replace ‘:’ with ‘-‘). We then concatenate it to each file name. If your requirements are different then feel free to change this or – for example – add this time stamp to the OneDrive path to automatically create a sub-folder for each email and their attachments.

     

    PDF Attachments - Detail - Part1PDF Attachments - Detail - Part2

     

    One of the tricks we use in this example is changing the default ‘Fail on error’ option in the Muhimbi Workflow actions from Yes to No. As a result, the Flow will not fail if an unsupported or broken attachment type is encountered. By evaluating the Result Code we can decide if the operation was successful and write the PDF to OneDrive. For more details about this concept see the Error handling section in our Core Concepts knowledge base article.

     
    That’s it, now publish the Flow and send an email containing some Word, Excel, PowerPoint or other supported files types to the email address associated with the Flow. After a few moments PDFs will appear in the destination folder.

    For more details about using Muhimbi’s Flow actions, see the Core Concepts knowledge base article as well as all other Flow related posts.

    If you have any questions about extending this Flow / template, or implementing it in your environment, then please leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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    Use Flow to automatically convert newly added OneDrive files to PDF

    Posted at: 3:04 PM on 29 March 2017 by Muhimbi

    onedriveAs part of our ongoing series about using the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online in combination with Microsoft Flow, LogicApps and PowerApps, we present a simple yet powerful example for automatically converting files to PDF when they are added to OneDrive.

    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online is a popular product to PDF Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files from Microsoft Flow, LogicApps, PowerApps as well as your own code using C#, Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby and most other modern platforms. Leave a message below or contact us if you have any questions.

     

    In this example we’ll show how to create a simple Flow that is triggered whenever a file is added to a folder in OneDrive. Once added, the file is automatically converted to PDF and stored in a different OneDrive folder. No need to install any local PDF Conversion software, all that is needed is the standard OneDrive sync client.

    Remember that this is just an example, it can easily be modified to use different file services (e.g the trigger can be for files uploaded to SharePoint, Box.com, DropBox, Google Drive etc) and the resulting file can be written (or emailed) via any of the 100+ available Flow services. Convert newly added DropBox files to PDF and store the PDF copy in Google Drive, SharePoint AND send it via email? No problem! I don’t know why you’d want to do it, but this is a very flexible system.

    There are many reasons for building a workflow like this one. We actually use this internally as a general-purpose PDF Converter. Office staff can drop any of the support file formats in a local folder, which is automatically synced with OneDrive using the standard OneDrive client. This triggers the flow and the converted file is written back to OneDrive and immediately synced back to the local system. Even though we wrote the underlying technology, it still looks like total magic.

     

    From a high level, the Flow works as follows:

    Convert to OneDrive - Overview

     

    The full Flow can be found below. It is automatically created by the Flow Template named Automatically convert newly added OneDrive files to PDF, it is just a matter of filling out the blanks, specifically:

    • When a file is created – Folder: Specify the path to the OneDrive folder to monitor for new files.
    • Create a file – Folder path: Specify the path to the OneDrive folder where the converted PDF files are written to. Please make sure this folder is different from the input folder to prevent recursive flows. (Otherwise the converted PDF file will kick off the same flow, which in turn will create a copy of the same PDF file that will kick off the same flow again etc).

     

    Convert to OneDrive - Detail - Part1Convert to OneDrive - Detail - Part2

     
    That’s it, now publish the Flow and copy a file to the source folder. Assuming the OneDrive client is active, after a few moments a PDF file will appear in the destination folder.

    For more details about using Muhimbi’s Flow actions, see the Core Concepts knowledge base article as well as all other Flow related posts.

    If you have any questions about extending this Flow / template, or implementing it in your environment, then please leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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    Use Flow to Convert a file to PDF and email it when a SharePoint document is added

    Posted at: 6:03 PM on 28 March 2017 by Muhimbi

    FlowLogoMicrosoft recently made the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online available to all users of their Flow, LogicApps and PowerApps products. As part of this process we are publishing a number of templates to make it easy for people to get started.

    Although all templates are also available from Microsoft’s own Service page, it is not possible to include detailed guidance in those templates, which is why we are publishing more details on our Blog… here.

    For those not familiar with the product, the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online is a popular product to PDF Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files from Microsoft Flow, LogicApps, PowerApps as well as your own code using C#, Java, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby and most other modern platforms. Leave a message below or contact us if you have any questions.

     

    In this example we’ll show how to create a simple Flow that is triggered whenever a file is added to a folder in a SharePoint Online Document Library. Once added, the file is automatically converted to PDF and sent as an email attachment to the author of the Flow.

    Remember that this is just an example, it can easily be adjusted to use different file services (e.g the trigger can be for files uploaded to OneDrive, Box.com, DropBox, Google Drive etc) and the email can be sent via different email providers (Outlook.com, generic email, Gmail, etc) to a distribution list of your choice.

    There are many reasons for building a workflow like this one. A popular use amongst our customers is to allow users on non-Windows devices (mobile phones, tablets) – who are not always getting a good experience when they try to open native Office, AutoCAD or other file formats – to see the files in their original layout and formatting. Regardless of platform, PDFs always display perfectly.

     

    From a high level, the Flow works as follows:

    Convert & Email - Overview

     

    The full Flow can be found below. It is automatically created by the Flow Template named Send a PDF rendition by email when a SharePoint document is added, it is just a matter of filling out the blanks, specifically:

    • Site Address: The URL of the SharePoint Site containing the Document Library to monitor.
    • Folder ID: The path to the folder in the Document Library to monitor.

     

    Convert & Email - Detail - Part1Convert & Email - Detail - Part2

    That is all there is to it, nice and easy.

    For more details about using Muhimbi’s Flow actions, see the Core Concepts knowledge base article as well as all other Flow related posts.

    If you have any questions about extending this template, or implementing it in your environment, then please leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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    Muhimbi’s PDF Conversion facilities now available for Flow, LogicApps and PowerApps

    Posted at: 3:47 PM on 24 March 2017 by Muhimbi

    FlowLogo

    Over the last few months we have been working with Microsoft’s Flow team to make Muhimbi’s popular PDF Conversion and manipulation facilities available to all Flow, LogicApps and PowerApps users. All this hard work has paid off as – starting today – our software is available in Microsoft’s standard list of services.

    There is nothing to install or configure, just create a Flow as normal, enable a Trigger to start when an event occurs (e.g. file created in DropBox, OneDrive, Box.com, SharePoint or any of the other supported services), add an action and either search for ‘Muhimbi’ to display all our actions to convert, merge, watermark, secure or OCR – or type the name of a Muhimbi action directly, e.g. ‘Convert Document’.

    Fill in the blanks - it is pretty self-explanatory but additional information is available in our Core Concepts article - and feed the generated document in a secondary Flow action, e.g. to email it or write it to a different service. That is it, for more details see the steps and screenshots in this blog post.

    Muhimbi Official Flow Service


    One of the cooler aspects of the way the integration works is that it works equally well in combination with other platforms including:

    1. Azure LogicApps: Available from the Azure portal, LogicApps represent the ‘grown up’ version of Flow. It provides more flexibility and control.
    2. PowerApps: Microsoft’s successor to InfoPath can be used to create powerful form solutions for PCs and mobile devices.
    3. Your own code: The underpinnings of the new Muhimbi service is REST based, and fully documented. As a result you can use it from any modern platform including C#, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, Java, SharePoint and many others. Details and sample code can be found in our GitHub repository.

     

    All this new functionality is part of the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online (and SharePoint Online) platforms. If you have any questions then please leave a message below or contact our support desk.

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    Use Microsoft Flow to Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files

    Posted at: 2:20 PM on 13 February 2017 by Muhimbi

    FlowLogoIf you have been paying close attention to our recent posts, you may have noticed that we have fallen a little bit in love with Microsoft’s new Flow product. (See Attaching PDF files to emails and Moving files between SharePoint Online site collections). A simple but elegant Workflow Engine that works well in combination with SharePoint Online, but can also be used to integrate with non-SharePoint systems including OneDrive, DropBox, SalesForce, and now ……

    Our previous posts have focused on how standard out-of-the-box Flow functionality can be used to post-process files generated by our SharePoint Online Workflow actions. However, we are not exaggerating when we say that we are extremely excited to announce that all Muhimbi’s workflow actions – as available for Nintex Workflow, K2, SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio – are now available for Microsoft Flow as well as part of the new Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online product line.  That is right, you can now Convert, Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR files directly in Microsoft Flow in combination with any other Flow service provider.

    Convert all files uploaded to OneDrive, watermark and secure them, and write the generated file to DropBox? No problem. Automatically archive all approved SharePoint Files in PDF/A format to Google Drive? Even easier. The sky is the limit.

     

    Functionality

    So how does this work? We’ll go into a great level of detail during the next few weeks and months, but in summary it works as follows.

    In Flow’s editor the Muhimbi actions show up in the same way as other built-in services such as SharePoint, DropBox, SalesForce etc. All Muhimbi workflow actions that our customers are already used to - including various conversion, merge, watermarking, security and OCR actions - are displayed in Flow’s list of actions.
     

    Muhimbi Flow Actions

     

    Let’s take the Convert Document action as an example. All it takes is the name of the source file, which is typically available from the Flow Trigger that started the workflow, and the file’s content, which tends to be available from the same trigger as well. The Output format defaults to PDF, but – depending on the input format – you can select different output formats as well.

    Although there are some other fields available under Show advanced options, this is basically all there is to it.

    Convert Document Flow Action

     

    An example of a completed Flow can be found below. It is basic but powerful and can easily be extended to take files from different sources (SharePoint, Box.com, Google Drive), carry out multiple operations by feeding the converted document into other Muhimbi actions to watermark and secure the generated PDF, and then send the generated file not only by email but also into SharePoint, DropBox or any of the other gazillions of services that integrate with Flow.

    1. The flow is triggered when a file is uploaded to a particular OneDrive folder.
    2. The file name and file content provided by the OneDrive trigger are fed into the Convert Document action
    3. The converted file is attached to an email and sent out.

     

    Simple Conversion Flow

     

    Similar to other Flow actions, each Muhimbi action returns a number of output parameters that can be consumed by other actions in the same Flow. The following screenshot shows how the generated PDF file is attached to the email.

    Flow Return Variables

     

    We have made sure that all our Flow actions work in a similar fashion. For detailed information see this Core Concepts Knowledge Base Article.

     

    Pricing

    Similar to our SharePoint Online subscription service, a free 30 day trial is available for this new product as well. The first time any of our actions are used, Microsoft Flow requires a connection to be setup with your Muhimbi subscription. Just follow the basic instructions when going through that process and all will be setup in minutes.

    If you wish to use the workflow actions beyond the 30 day trial, you will need to subscribe to one of our plans. Pricing and functionality exactly matches the pricing for our SharePoint Online subscriptions.

    Please note that there is no need to purchase separate subscriptions for both the PDF Converter for SharePoint Online and PDF Converter Services Online (as used by Flow). The same subscription can be used from both SharePoint Online and Flow, just make sure that during registration you enter the Tenancy ID of your SharePoint Online environment (See this KB article for details) to link the two. Please keep in mind that operations carried out by both products are shared and come from your existing monthly allotment.

     

    What’s next?

    More details will follow over the next few weeks and months, but the new Muhimbi PDF Converter Services Online product line will not just offer Flow integration, but also provide support for Nintex Workflow Cloud as well as a full REST based API that can be consumed from all modern platforms including JavaScript, .NET, Python, Bash, Java, Perl, PHP, Ruby, Scala, Swift and SharePoint.

    As always, for the latest news keep an eye on our Twitter feed and, if not already done so, subscribe to our RSS feed.

     

    Any questions or comments? Leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk, we love talking to our customers.

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