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PDF Converter Services 8.2 - Maintenance Release

Posted at: 2:15 PM on 13 January 2017 by Muhimbi

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We are happy to announce a new version of the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services. As the product is mature and stable, this is largely a maintenance release that solves a number of issues and introduces some refinements.

A quick introduction for those not familiar with the product: The Muhimbi PDF Converter Services is an ‘on premises’ server based SDK that allows software developers to convert typical Office files to PDF format using a robust, scalable but friendly Web Services interface from Java, .NET, Ruby & PHP based solutions. It supports a large number of file types including MS-Office and ODF file formats as well as HTML, MSG (email), EML, AutoCAD and Image based files and is used by some of the largest organisations in the world for mission critical document conversions. In addition to converting documents the product ships with a sophisticated watermarking engine, PDF Splitting and Merging facilities, an OCR facility and the ability to secure PDF files. A separate SharePoint specific version is available as well.


Some of the main changes and additions in the new version are as follows:

2923 CAD Fix Incorrect text size and alignment during CAD to PDF conversion
2674 CAD Fix Lines are too thick when converting DWG
2818 CAD Improvement AutoCAD x-ref search path does not search in sub folders
2940 HTML Fix When converting HTML to PDF, large images that are loaded from an absolute path or URL are skipped
2792 HTML Fix Some PDF iFilters do not pick up PDF Documents that have been converted from HTML to PDF
2890 HTML Fix HTML Conversion problems on extremely large files
2908 Merge Fix Error while merging certain files
2928 Merge Improvement Merge operations timeout after 30 minutes
2942 OCR Fix OCR overlay is rotated for certain PDF files
2537 OCR Fix PDF Syntax (validation) errors after carrying out OCR
2708 OCR Fix OCR temp files not cleaned up in case of an error
2915 OCR Fix Content of some OCR-ed PDFs not picked up by iFilters
2919 PDFA Fix PDF/A Color intent mismatch for certain source documents
2917 Service Improvement Move DocumentConverter logs to 'log' sub folder
2900 Service New Add 'EPS' to OutputFormat.cs and related code (workflow actions etc)
2810 Setup Fix Switching to new printer driver after installing with the old driver doesn't work
2812 Setup Fix Improve installer on systems with wide range of .net framework versions
2813 Setup Fix Fix automatic uninstall steps when switching back and forth in installer
2826 Setup Fix Improve checking for local Admin rights on non-English operating systems
2809 Setup Fix Last step of uninstallation hangs under certain circumstances
2815 Setup Fix Duplicate Windows firewall rules created by installer
2807 Setup Improvement Installer doesn't write Exceptions to log until after error dialog is closed
2720 Watermark Fix Free Text & RTF watermarks do not show Arabic text consistently

 

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.

Download your free trial here (54MB). .

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Converting and Archiving InfoPath files in PDF format

Posted at: 1:52 PM on 10 January 2017 by Muhimbi

microsoft-infopathYou know that archiving InfoPath forms is important, and can be difficult for a host of reasons. Luckily, converting from InfoPath to PDF with Muhimbi’s range of Server Side PDF Conversion products is a simple and optimal solution to keep an organization in compliance of regulations.

After determining that converting documents to PDF is the route that best addresses your organization’s needs, we then need to determine how to archive those PDFs. Simply storing a file is suboptimal in terms of efficacy; for this practice and resulting PDF to be useful, it will be critical to know where documents are stored. There are a lot of suggested best practices in this arena, and that can make determining the specifics of your process more convoluted than it needs to be.

In order to architect a more straightforward storage plan there are three essential points to address: ensuring metadata is retained in a converted form, making the conversion and storage of a document part of a workflow, and creating a cogent plan for the first two points in advance in order to avoid ad hoc policy decisions.

 

Why Metadata is Important

Metadata allows you to tag documents with information that can be accessed later, without involving a user. This not only relieves an end user of remembering which type of data needs to be stored with specific documents, it also yields two additional benefits:

First, the ability to search SharePoint storage by metadata allows very specific queries to be used when looking for documentation; the more specificity in the query, the more accurate and specific the results. This becomes more and more useful when hundreds of thousands of documents are stored and may need to be queried. For example, it would be easy to sort archived PDFs by InfoPath form title, author, and date range created (all of which are default metadata settings).

Second, the metadata within a document can be used by Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint to create watermarks for that document, meaning that not only is the metadata there for search, but it is also attached in a viewable and “un-touchable” (encrypted) way. The inability to edit metadata can be required for some regulations and compliance rules.

Selecting and adding new metadata is a well-covered and documented area of SharePoint usage, so we won’t go into depth about adding new metadata requirements for a document in this article, but we’ve had the ability to maintain metadata during conversion baked into Muhimbi’s PDF converter for SharePoint since the very first version. Worth mentioning as well, it was later updated in version 6 to allow for a workflow step to copy metadata and set content type in a single operation. The PDF converter for SharePoint can also secure that document so that it can be viewed but NOT changed.

 

Simplify using Workflows

Now that a document is converted and metadata has been retained it still needs to be pushed to its final storage location. Manual storage is an option, but in reality it would only be appropriate for very small, and highly disciplined teams. Like most manual processes, it becomes cumbersome quickly if there is notable volume or number of contributors involved. One form that isn’t stored in the proper place won’t be an issue… until that form is needed, often months or even years later, and mistakes are likely to occur more frequently in tandem with document volume, especially if they are being stored manually.

Furthermore, in the event that PDFs are being manually archived, protocols have to be manually adhered to every single time a PDF is saved as well. For example, let’s assume we’ll be manually archiving customer invoices. We’d want them saved in a tree accordingly:

    Year -> Customer -> Billing -> Invoices -> unique invoice number.

This process will almost always work, but one miss-click means that the invoice is being saved in the wrong year, or even wrong customer. Again, manual processes become cumbersome and increasingly error-prone as volume increases, so unless the team can be counted on 100% of the time to always remember to convert a form to PDF, and then place that PDF in the right location, manual conversion and archiving should be avoided.

Luckily, workflows automate these processes, and are pretty easy to set up. Planning ahead and setting up workflows not only makes the process easier for everyone, it also eliminates headaches and mitigates the risk of human error, such as plain forgetfulness.

Creating a workflow with Muhimbi is just a few steps - and works in most common workflow environments including SharePoint Designer, Nintex Workflow, K2, Visual Studio and Microsoft Flow. It’s easy enough that there is no real reason not to use workflows for any type of content that will be routinely created and needs to be stored.

Saving documentation in a safe, secure and reliable manner is a core business need, and regulatory compliance requirements only make the need more prominent. While the archiving of data may seem complex, it doesn’t need to be complicated as long as an automated process is developed that leverages metadata use and automated workflows.

 

If you are dealing with InfoPath in your organisation, you MUST think about archiving this kind of information in a file format that is accessible. For more information read out InfoPath Archiving whitepaper or contact our friendly support desk.

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The How and Why of OCR / Providing document access to the visually impaired

Posted at: 5:00 PM on 06 January 2017 by Muhimbi

OCR-LogoWhile Optical Character Recognition (OCR) may seem like a newer technology, it’s been around for more than 50 years. In fact, OCR has become embedded in our daily life without much fanfare. For example, if you’ve ever inserted a check directly into an ATM and the ATM displayed the amount– that was OCR working for you. Of course, OCR functionality goes well beyond depositing Grandma’s birthday check.

Due to an overwhelming amount of user requests, OCR has been an important part of Muhimbi’s range of server-side PDF Conversion products (SharePoint, SDK for Java / PHP / C#, SharePoint Online / Office 365). Implementing software to recognize images and convert them to alpha-numeric characters was no trivial task, but thankfully it’s much easier to explain than it was to actually implement!

When an image is entered into a system it is reviewed for recognizable text. That text is then deciphered by the system with its best guess for each individual character. The system then creates a hidden data layer that contains the deciphered content, synced to the appropriate space on the image.

There are a lot of ways this can be useful for a business and we have included a few examples below. Perhaps more than one will ring familiar to your organization’s needs-set.

If an organization needs to digitize old orders and invoices, doing so manually would involve discrete steps for scanning in the paper copies, renaming them, and storing them in the correct place. However, with OCR technology it’s possible to scan the images in, set rules to look for key information, rename files, and create settings to automatically store them appropriately. SharePoint workflows become super helpful with tasks like these!

Another example involves InfoPath, always a popular topic in our PDF Converter for SharePoint’s use case. It’s not uncommon for InfoPath forms to allow (or require) the attaching of relevant documents. Those docs are most often attached as images, or non-OCR PDFs. By having OCR scan and digitize the content of those files their later usability is significantly increased.

OCR also offers advantages that deal with search-ability. The content in the hidden data layer attached to the file is searchable using a PDF reader or web browser. This allows for “search by content” functionality. Additionally, this text layer can also be set to be crawl-able or index-able allowing search engines to display the OCR document as results. Naturally, this makes said documents much more convenient to work with.
 

OCRed-Document Scanned Document with OCRed text selected


Perhaps most meaningfully, OCR can empower visually impaired users to access content that would be otherwise impossible; the data layer can be used by a text-to-speech system to ‘read’ content to a user. Of course, even though expanding available content to the visually impaired has obvious business value, the impact goes well beyond office work.

For a bit of history in how OCR became a dominant technology in providing content access to the visually impaired, we should start by mentioning that many governments around the world have implemented standards based off Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which has helped formalize how web content should be created and accessed by any machine. Some examples of governmental implementation include US section 508 and UK Equality Act of 2010, meaning that all US and UK government websites must adhere to the standards set in the WCAG.

The WCAG is a lasting legacy of the Web Accessibility Initiative, which spun out of the personal computer boom of the 1990s. As recently as a few years ago, only about 1% of published books became available in braille, so the WCAG and Web Accessibility Initiative have played an important role in setting up useful guidelines to make sure that online content was held to a higher standard.

The wide adoption of these standards means more electronic content has become available to the visually impaired, both through electronic braille readers (which can cost upwards of $3,000), and the less expensive combination of OCR technology and a screen reader. A screen reader, either as a desktop application or a browser extension, allows text-to-speech capabilities for both rich-text content as well as OCR saved content.

Furthermore, while personal, organizational, or corporate sites aren’t required to comply with these standards, most do because they’ve become widely accepted best-practices. This increases the prevalence and frequency with which OCR technology is used.

There are plenty of solid business reasons for including OCR capabilities into Muhimbi’s range of server side PDF Conversion products. However, we can’t help but think that bringing new content, and more options to those with a visual impairment is perhaps the most notable.

An overview of the various OCR facilities provided by our product range can be found in this Knowledge Base Article.

What do you think, is this something that could be useful for your organisation? Leave a comment below or contact our friendly support desk for more information. We love to help.

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PDF Converter for SharePoint 8.2 - Support for SharePoint 2016 & Nintex Workflow 2016

Posted at: 12:51 PM on 23 December 2016 by Muhimbi

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Ever since Muhimbi was founded, we have seen a multitude of new SharePoint releases including SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013, Online and now SharePoint 2016. It takes a lot of work and effort, but our policy is to never leave a customer behind while making sure there is an upgrade path to whatever is coming next.

As a result, we are very happy to announce the new version of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint, now compatible with SharePoint 2016 and Nintex Workflow 2016. In addition to support for these new technologies there are also fixes and improvements including the ability to use the new Workflow Manager to create Site Workflows as well as Reusable Workflows.

This version of the PDF Converter requires software to be installed on the server. Please note that if you have no server access there is always the option to deploy our SharePoint Online App to on-premise versions of SharePoint 2013 and 2016. For details see this blog post.

For those not familiar with the product, the PDF Converter for SharePoint is a lightweight 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 as well as other formats from within SharePoint using a friendly user interface, workflows or a web service call without the need to install any client side software or Adobe Acrobat. It integrates at a deep level with SharePoint and leverages facilities such as the Audit log, Nintex Workflow, K2 blackpearl, localisation, security and tracing. It runs on SharePoint 2007-2016 & SharePoint Online and is available in English, German, Dutch, French, Traditional Chinese and Japanese. For detailed information check out the product page.


When upgrading from an older (pre 8.0) release, read this Knowledge Base article first.


Some of the main changes and additions in the new version are as follows:

2923 CAD Fix Incorrect text size and alignment during CAD to PDF conversion
2674 CAD Fix Lines are too thick when converting DWG
2818 CAD Improvement AutoCAD x-ref search path does not search in sub folders
2940 HTML Fix When converting HTML to PDF, large images that are loaded from an absolute path or URL are skipped
2792 HTML Fix Some PDF iFilters do not pick up PDF Documents that have been converted from HTML to PDF
2890 HTML Fix HTML Conversion problems on extremely large files
2908 Merge Fix Error while merging certain files
2928 Merge Improvement Merge operations timeout after 30 minutes
2942 OCR Fix OCR overlay is rotated for certain PDF files
2537 OCR Fix PDF Syntax (validation) errors after carrying out OCR
2708 OCR Fix OCR temp files not cleaned up in case of an error
2915 OCR Fix Content of some OCR-ed PDFs not picked up by iFilters
2919 PDFA Fix PDF/A Color intent mismatch for certain source documents
2830 Service Improvement Increase WCF timeout in SharePoint
2917 Service Improvement Move DocumentConverter logs to 'log' sub folder
2900 Service New Add 'EPS' to OutputFormat.cs and related code (workflow actions etc)
2810 Setup Fix Switching to new printer driver after installing with the old driver doesn't work
2812 Setup Fix Improve installer on systems with wide range of .net framework versions
2813 Setup Fix Fix automatic uninstall steps when switching back and forth in installer
2826 Setup Fix Improve checking for local Admin rights on non-English operating systems
2809 Setup Fix Last step of uninstallation hangs under certain circumstances
2815 Setup Fix Duplicate Windows firewall rules created by installer
2790 Setup Improvement Add SP2016 checks to installer
2807 Setup Improvement Installer doesn't write Exceptions to log until after error dialog is closed
2595 SharePoint Fix Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Muhimbi.SharePoint.Configuration.ConfigManager.SetList(SPList list)
2789 SharePoint New Add Support for SharePoint 2016 and Nintex Workflow 2016
2841 SharePoint New Add SP2016 Compatibility to License Manager
2820 UI Fix Manual conversion screen is picking up new files while iterating over folders
2591 UI Improvement Reference to 2007/2010 removed from Central Admin page
2720 Watermark Fix Free Text & RTF watermarks do not show Arabic text consistently
2825 Workflow New Add support for Reusable & site workflows for Workflow Manager activities


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.

Download your free trial here (62MB). .

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Attach converted PDF files to an email using Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Online

Posted at: 6:03 PM on 28 October 2016 by Muhimbi

Although at the time of writing (October 2016) Microsoft’s cool new Flow platform is not yet officially available, our support team is quickly turning into Flow junkies. Problems that are difficult to solve using regular SharePoint Designer workflows are absolutely trivial to crack using Flow.

Today we are describing a solution to what is a top 5 support request, at least for our support team, which is to automatically convert a file to PDF using a workflow and sending the result via email as an attachment. You’d think this is easy to achieve in a SharePoint Designer workflow as that comes with an e-mail action, however that action does not support attachments. Bummer!

 

Read on to find out how easy it is to solve this problem.

  1. If not already done so, sign up for Microsoft Flow (Free).
     
  2. If not already done so, in Flow navigate to My Connections and set up a SharePoint connection.
     
  3. Install the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online App (add-in) and separate Workflow Actions.
     
  4. In SharePoint Online (or on-premise if you have configured a gateway) make sure you have access to two different Document Libraries. This example can be combined to use only a single library, but things are slightly easier when using two. Let’s name our libraries Auto Convert Files and Email Files
     
  5. As at the time of writing Muhimbi’s workflow actions are not (yet) available in Flow, we need to create a SharePoint Designer workflow to carry out the conversion to PDF. Navigate to the Auto Convert Files Library and create a new SharePoint Designer Workflow (Library tab / Workflow Settings / Create a Workflow in SharePoint Designer).
     
  6. Name your workflow Convert to PDF, set it to automatically start when a new file is created, convert the Current Item to Email Files/ (including the trailing slash), in PDF format and Exclude metadata. Too cryptic, have a look at this demo video (that uses slightly different parameters, but illustrates the concept). 

    image 
  7. Close SharePoint Designer and check that the new workflow works by uploading a new file to Auto Convert Files. After a few seconds the PDF rendition should be placed in the Email Files Document Library.
     
  8. It is time to create the Flow that picks up the newly converted file and send it via email.  On the My Flows screen select the option to create a New flow from blank.
     
  9. The trigger that starts the flow must be defined first, enter SharePoint when a file is created and select the displayed trigger. Enter the site collection and Email Files document library (use the Library picker if needed).
     
  10. With the fields filled out, click New Step followed by Add an Action.
     
  11. There are several built in email related actions (Outlook, Office 365 Outlook, SMTP), but in this example we use the basic Mail – Send email action. Select it and accept the terms & conditions if needed.
     
  12. Fill out the recipient, subject etc and click Show Advanced options. Select the Attachment field and select File content from the Dynamic content picker. Similarly for the Attachment file name, select File name.

 

That is it, enter an appropriate name for the flow at the top of the screen and click the Create Flow option. You can later extend the flow by adding a SharePoint Delete File action to delete the original file if that is no longer needed.

On the My Flows screen make sure the newly created flow is enabled. Upload a file to Auto Convert Files and after a few seconds an email will be delivered with a copy of the converted file.
 

image

 

Naturally this is not limited to PDF Conversion, it works with any file generated by our various workflow actions including Merge, Watermark, Secure and OCR operations. The current flow always sends the email to the same recipient, this can easily be extended to take the recipient from a separate column by querying that column in Flow.

 

Any questions or remarks? Leave an update below or contact our friendly support team.

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PDF Converter for SharePoint Online 9.8 - Site & Reusable Workflows & on-prem support

Posted at: 4:09 PM on 27 October 2016 by Muhimbi

sharepoint-online-logoDuring the previous 8+ years we have made it a habit to announce new software releases – for our on-premise software – at the time it became available for download. However, because releasing updates for an online service, where we maintain the entire back-end, doesn’t require any end-user involvement, we haven’t always done such a good job where it comes to announcing new versions of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online / Office 365.

That changes today as we formally announce the availability of version 9.8, the 8th release since the product first became available in June 2015. An overview of all recent and historical changes can be found below.
 

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 8.1.
 

The number of new features and changes is almost too large to list, but include support for Site Workflows, Reusable workflows, the ability to install the App in SharePoint 2013 / 2016, support for the new Document Library experience, real-time watermarking, a brand new website for SharePoint Online and much much more. 

The following blog posts provide more detail:

 
If you are an existing customer, or installed a trial version before October 2016, then we recommend upgrading the App and installing the latest workflow actions. (Especially as Microsoft has deprecated certain types of sandbox solutions and caused some issues when they introduce the new Document Library 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 App StoreDeploy App Store Add-in to SharePoint Online or on-premise.


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

2751 Workflow Fix The 'Split' Workflow action does not recognise the default 'interval' value.
2781 Workflow Fix The List ID variable is not created by merge activity for some tenancies.
2677 Workflow Fix Workflow actions not displayed for SPD reusable workflow.
2580 Workflow Fix Workflow action error - String was not recognized as a valid DateTime.
2695 Workflow Improvement Improve support for reusable workflows.
2849 Workflow Improvement Remove unused DLL from the SPO Workflow actions WSP.
2300 Workflow Improvement Update ‘Created By’ and ‘Modified By’ field with current user name.
2688 Workflow Improvement Add support for Macros / Merge fields in watermarking workflows.
2771 Workflow New Add support for Site Scoped workflows.
2362 Workflow New Add support for the new QR code watermark activity.
2885 Watermarking Fix Date filter for on-open watermark is not working as expected.
2829 Watermarking Fix Invalid current time in PDC.
2878 Watermarking Fix Numerical and currency values not rendered correctly in watermark on sites that use a comma as a decimal separator
2889 Watermarking Fix Boolean filter doesn't work under all circumstances.
2870 Watermarking Fix Watermark does not show correct time for non-English sites.
2652 Watermarking Fix Filtering on Boolean does not work as expected
2679 Watermarking Fix REMOTE_HOST value is not displayed correctly.
2722 Watermarking Fix Watermark on-open fails for users having permission on library, but not on site.
2683 Watermarking Improvement Numerical values are not formatted as per user/web local settings.
2879 Watermarking Improvement Filtering settings are not displayed or stored in region independent format.
2869 Watermarking Improvement Watermarking does not show values as per regional settings of user and web.
2691 Watermarking Improvement Improve performance of real-time watermarking.
2697 Watermarking Improvement Add support for filtering on site groups.
2698 Watermarking Improvement Add support for filtering on managed metadata.
2553 Watermarking Improvement Add support for QRCode elements in composite watermarks.
2877 Watermarking New Add support for real-time watermarking for List Attachments.
2226 Watermarking New Add support for Real time watermarking / security.
2899 UI Fix Fix Convert Button in 'ribbon' of new doclib experience.
2756 UI Fix The 'Include SharePoint Meta-data' checkbox is not ticked when merging.
2759 UI Fix Watermarking Filter field names are duplicated after several post backs.
2768 UI Fix Leaving conversion screen open for a few minutes results in an error.
2873 UI Fix Convert to PDF 'ribbon' entry is present, but doesn't work in SharePoint's new Doclib Experience.
2766 UI Fix Folder picker stuck on 'please wait..' (when user has no access on parent site).
2714 UI Fix Occasional 'Object reference not set to an instance of an object' when merging.
2758 UI Fix Text is incorrect on PDF Security screen.
2761 UI Fix Browse button' doesn't work when specified path doesn't exist.
2760 UI Improvement Admin Links need to be displayed on all Muhimbi screens.
2763 UI Improvement The Error message for invalid filename needs fixing.
2676 UI Improvement Watermarking xml validation message text changes.
2680 UI Improvement Improve error messages around invalid XML Watermarks.
2692 UI Improvement Revise sorting mechanism in merge screen.
2668 UI Improvement Improve error message when unable to read file because of invalid url.
2573 UI Improvement Allow files to be sorted using dropdown menu.
2285 UI Improvement Show file icons in a merge screen.
2280 UI New Add support for friendly 'Browse folder' button.
2769 System Fix Random 'The given key was not present in the dictionary' error.
2770 System Fix Automatic check in behaviour is incorrect on libraries requiring check-out.
2876 System Fix Output to a sub folder doesn't always use the specified destination folder.
2607 System Fix Invalid folder error while converting file.
2693 System Fix Investigate issues with output paths.
2740 System Fix Error when converting: Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ServerException: Column 'ServerRedirectedEmbedUrl' does not exist. It may have been deleted by another user.
2745 System Fix 'PDF Converter no longer installed' when it actually is (via App catalog).
2602 System Fix Unexpected error while converting large (>50mb) files.
2550 System Fix Error while converting on libraries with required columns AND require check out.
2709 System Improvement Maintain 'Modified by' and 'Created by' values when file is added or edited.
2687 System Improvement Encrypt settings.
2463 System Improvement Optimise Table of Content (TOC) facility for SharePoint Online.
2533 System Improvement '+' character is allowed in SharePoint file names, but not in the PDF Converter.
2705 System New Add support for grouping Prod, Dev and Test Tenancies.
2689 System New Add support for reading regional settings from current user profile.
2777 Subscription Fix When out of monthly operations users can’t go to the ‘info’ or admin screens.
2752 Subscription Fix When WM On open file size exceeds subscription, no error is displayed.
2614 Subscription Fix Activation page blank screen.
2686 Subscription Improvement Improve messaging in emails when 100% of monthly allowance has been used.
2574 Subscription Improvement Subscription activation email was not sent because of socket error.
2541 Subscription Improvement Change the message shown when subscription activation link clicked twice.
2453 Subscription New Send email alerts to customer when usage reaches 75% & 100%.
2733 Setup Fix User cannot activate watermarking feature on French sites.
2303 Setup Improvement Ribbon button cannot be deployed using Tenancy scope app deployment
2322 Setup New Allow PDF Converter APP / Add-in to be installed in on-premise environments.
2701 Setup New Add feature to enable ribbon control on deployments made via App Catalog.
2673 Security New Add support for blocking access to PDF on Open / Filter by IP.
2702 Metadata Improvement Add support for copying Enterprise Keyword metadata.
2699 Metadata Improvement Add support for copying InfoPath based metadata.
2765 Merging Improvement Change 'File format not supported' when converting / merging multiple files.
2364 Documentation New Create a KB article for 'settings link' under remote web.
2635 Documentation New Add KB Entry about elevating App permissions & real-time watermarking.
2568 Conversion New Add PS files to Professional and Higher level Subscriptions.
2290 Conversion New Add support for converting InfoPath & Formotus forms.


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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Installing The PDF Converter for SharePoint Online App in SP2013 & SP2016 (on-premise)

Posted at: 4:07 PM on 21 October 2016 by Muhimbi

sharepoint-online-logoOne of the key advantages of deploying Apps in SharePoint Online, or at least App Store Apps, is the ease of installation, it is absolutely trivial. A quick search in the App Store followed by another click to install a complex product and you are done. No need to involve IT staff, plan capacity, assess risk, install dependencies, monitor servers and maintain systems. It doesn’t get much easier (for the customer, now we get to do all the hard work in our hosting environment :-)

Although we pride ourselves on the comprehensive installation experience, as well as the documentation we provide for our on-premise product (SP2007-2016), rolling out our software to a typical on-premise SharePoint farm is still less than trivial. What if we could bring the same installation experience that our SharePoint Online customers enjoy to SharePoint on-premise?

Well, and I guess you can see where this is going, today we are doing exactly that. Providing your SharePoint 2013 / 2016 SharePoint environment has been set up to integrate with the Office Store, you can install both our SharePoint Online App and Workflow Actions on-premise using the click of a button. Brilliant!

 

While installation of the App is easy, please make sure that:

  1. Your SharePoint environment is configured for Apps.
  2. Server-to-server authentication has been set up between your on-premise and SharePoint Online servers. (See page 9 to 15 in this document).
  3. ACS is configured properly as per this post.

 

None of these requirements are specific to Muhimbi’s Apps / Add-ins. Most Apps, at least the non-trivial ones, require the same one-time SharePoint configuration.
 

Muhimbi in the App Store

 

So, what else do you need to know?

  1. Although from a functional perspective the App is largely identical to the traditional on-premise product, the license is completely different. The App is subscription based, regardless of the environment it is installed in. For details about the various subscriptions, see this overview.
  2. Although we aim for full feature parity between the App and the traditional PDF Converter for SharePoint, there are some differences. The App does not directly integrate with Nintex Workflow (Nintex for Office 365 does not support 3rd party add-ins at the time of writing). Our API is also not (yet) available from the App. If you need either of these functions then please reach out to our support desk for the appropriate workarounds. An overview of the key differences and similarities can be found in this Knowledge Base article.
  3. App Store integration is only available in SharePoint 2013 and later. This does not work on older SharePoint versions such as 2007 or 2010. Please install our on-premise software in those environments.

 

For more details about the App see the separate Muhimbi-Online website.

 
With the modern App being available on-premise, you may think that we will no longer focus development on our traditional on-premise products. This is not the case, we have a very complete and actively developed roadmap for both products and will continue to develop each separately. We pride ourselves on never leaving any customers behind, which is why every new version of our on-premise products still supports SharePoint 2007 and Windows Server 2003. (Yes, many people still run that combination, and we don’t mind that they do)

 
Any questions or comments? Please leave a message below or contact us, we love talking to our customers.

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Convert and move files between different SharePoint Online site collections using Flow

Posted at: 12:38 PM on 20 October 2016 by Muhimbi

FlowLogoFrom time to time our support desk is asked how to convert or move files to a different site collection in SharePoint Online / Office 365 in combination with our popular PDF Converter for SharePoint Online. Unfortunately the answer is always something along the lines of ‘this is not possible using SharePoint Designer Workflows as there are clear security boundaries between site collections’.

Although there are some hacky and difficult ways to achieve this by directly invoking a REST based interface or using SharePoint’s Content Organizer, there is a different route that fits in well with the workflow mind-set, Microsoft’s cool new Flow product.

A detailed description of Flow is beyond the scope of this post, but let’s just say that it is the spiritual successor to SharePoint Designer, at least from a workflow perspective, with the key differentiator being that it is all modern and web-based, and – more importantly – not tied into SharePoint. It can integrate with many systems (BaseCamp, DropBox, Onedrive, Dynamics CRM, SalesForce) SharePoint being just one of them.

Although our developers are working hard to directly integrate our existing SharePoint Online Workflow Actions with Microsoft Flow - basically creating Flow specific versions that can be used from any platform - for now the solution is to first create a SharePoint Designer workflow to convert a file to PDF, which in turn invokes Flow to move the file to the destination Site Collection.

Read on for details about how to achieve this. Naturally this same technique also works for copying ANY file between site collections, it doesn’t need to come out of our Converter. The same technique can be used to copy files to and from OneDrive, DropBox and any other supported system.

  1. If not already done so, sign up for Microsoft Flow (Free).
     
  2. If not already done so, in Flow navigate to My Connections and set up a SharePoint connection.
     
  3. In SharePoint Online make sure you have access to two different site collections. In this example we have named them SourceSite and DestinationSite.
     
  4. Determine the name of the source and destination Document Libraries and folders, in our example the source folder is the root of the TransferToOtherSite Document Library. The Destination folder is in the Shared Documents library, specifically the FromOtherSite folder.
     
  5. In this example we first create a SharePoint Designer Workflow (on the Source Site) that converts a file to PDF and writes the resulting file to the TransferToOtherSite Document Library. Your scenario may be different, but a short video about how to create such a workflow can be found in our Knowledge Base.
     
  6. With a process setup that automatically places files in the source location, it is time to create a new process in Flow. On the My Flows screen select the option to create a New flow from blank.
     
  7. The trigger that starts the flow must be defined first, enter SharePoint when a file is created and select the displayed trigger. Enter the source site collection and folder (use the Folder browser if needed)
     
  8. With the fields filled out, click New Step followed by Add an Action.
     
  9. Enter SharePoint create file and select the appropriate action. You may be tempted to use the SharePoint Copy File action, but that is limited to copying files within the SAME site collection.
     
  10. Fill in the blanks, for details see the screenshot below. Naturally substitute the sample site and folder names with your own.

 

That is it, enter an appropriate name for the flow at the top of the screen and click the Create Flow option. You can later extend the flow by adding a SharePoint Delete File action to delete the original file if that is no longer needed, in effect moving the source file.

On the My Flows screen make sure the newly created flow is enabled. Create a file in the source location, either by kicking off the SharePoint Designer workflow or manually placing a file in the source folder. After a few seconds a copy of the file should show up in the destination site collection.
 

Flow - Copy between site collections

 

This is just a start, using some very simple steps Flow allows very powerful integration scenarios. By just adding one more action I was able to also copy the source file to my OneDrive folder, which in turn synced the file to my local system.

This allowed me to create a cool Flow where I have a local OneDrive folder that I can drop any file in, which is then synced automatically to OneDrive, which kicks off a Flow that converts the file to PDF, write it to another OneDrive folder, which in turn is synced back to my local system. A universal Desktop PDF Converter using just a few Flow actions… awesome!

For more details about Muhimbi’s workflow actions for carrying our Conversion, Merging, Watermarking, Securing and OCR of files, have a look at our website.

 

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

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Converting InfoPath to PDF is still important

Posted at: 5:32 PM on 14 October 2016 by Muhimbi

microsoft-infopathConverting InfoPath forms to PDF, was first introduced due to overwhelming customer requests and has been part of the Muhimbi Converter for SharePoint since 2009, back when we were only on version 3! Even though InfoPath is being retired, InfoPath to PDF conversion is still a feature we get asked about a lot. In fact, it’s so popular we completely overhauled the InfoPath Converter in the latest release!

There are plenty of reasons for InfoPath to PDF conversion, chief among them are data compliance, data storage, and data sharing.

Compliance needs are the most obvious reason for PDF conversion. SharePoint is one of the most popular platforms for professional organizations to manage their documents and once any organization gets large enough, or ventures into specific fields, they run into a slew of acronyms like SOX or HIPPAA. This means dealing with new data security and preservation regulations.

For example, HIPPAA mandates records be kept for at least six years, sometimes with very specific metadata requirements. Storing those records isn’t just about finding space for the 1’s and 0’s, but rather keeping it in a way that is useful, maintainable, and properly accessible.
 

InfoPath-Conversion-Front-Page

Download our InfoPath Archiving White Paper


This brings us to the second point on archiving InfoPath data: there are two separate files to be stored, and those files have to be kept in sync.

An InfoPath form itself is an XSN file, but the data that a user enters into it is stored as an XML file. If only the XML data is kept and the XSN file lost, the data is meaningless, as the XML has no context on its own. Even if both files are kept, there are still issues that can arise.

Re-creating a completed form requires a user to have privileges to access both files, which is uncommon. Over time storage servers housing the XML data may be changed or upgraded, so server naming conventions would have to be exactly the same so that file locations are maintained. Lastly, upgrading to newer versions of SharePoint (or moving to a cloud solution) means that URL locations of the form will make life much more difficult.

Since both files are needed to recreate a completed form, sharing information can be challenging. Either both files must be sent independently and recombined by the recipient (a complex task), or another type of file needs to encapsulate the data in a meaningful way.

The most obvious solution for the InfoPath preservation problem is to keep the data as a single file type that shows both the form and the data being entered. Of the different types of files that can do this, PDFs are clearly the best choice; it is accessible, and familiar to almost every user and device. Converting to a PDF can be done as part of a Nintex, K2, SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio workflow using Muhimbi’s range of server based PDF Converters, automatically archiving data for security. Plus, advanced features like watermarking, inserting QR codes and PDF/A make Muhimbi the default choice for Converting InfoPath to PDF.

If you haven’t yet used the Muhimbi PDF Converter it’s super easy, and if you already manage workflows you won’t have any issues getting it set up.

Details can be found in our Knowledge Base. We also have a short video demo of this process for SharePoint On-line using the online version of our tool, the PDF Converter for SharePoint Online.

Although support has officially been extended till 2026, Microsoft may be slowly discontinuing InfoPath, but as long as it’s useful to our customers you can bet we’ll keep supporting it.

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New PDF Conversion Workflow Actions for SharePoint Online & Workflow Manager

Posted at: 6:12 PM on 07 October 2016 by Muhimbi

Workflow Manager LogoOne of the key reasons our customers love our popular range of server side PDF conversion and document automation products is the ability to automate processes. A friendly user interface to convert and merge files into a single PDF is nice and all, but being able to automate business processes using SharePoint workflows is where our products really shine.

Over the years we have created workflow actions for various environments; SharePoint Designer for the SP2007 & SP2010 workflow engine, Nintex Workflow 2007-2016, K2 blackpearl, the Workflow Manager included with SP2013/2016, and more recently the SharePoint Online / Office 365 workflow engine.

To keep everything consistent for our customers, we have always made sure that - regardless of the workflow platform used - all our workflow actions look and behave exactly the same. This has always worked well for us, but sometimes the underlying workflow platform throws a spanner in the works.

This post provides more details about recent changes that affect the SharePoint 2013-2016 Workflow Manager as well as SharePoint Online’s ‘SP2013’ workflow engine.

Workflow Actions
Look at all the cool workflow actions.

 
Before going into more detail, for the sake of simplicity and clarity let’s agree that the SharePoint 2013-2016 Workflow Manager and SharePoint Online’s ‘SP2013’ workflow engine are identical, and refer to both these workflow engines as the Workflow Manager. (They are based on the same technology, but the implementation is different.)

The previous version of our Workflow Manager actions worked well. However there was room for improvement in the following areas:

  • Reusable Workflows: In the ‘old style’ SP2007-2010 workflow engine, reusable workflows worked pretty much the same as regular list workflows. It was possible to create one generic workflow and assign them to any list with little additional effort. This behaviour was changed in the Workflow Manager, which makes it much more difficult to carry out a lookup against a list that is not fixed at design time. Our new workflow actions address this by allowing the path to the input file to be specified at run-time. Confused? Keep reading, examples are provided below.
     
  • Site Workflows: As Site Workflows are not associated with a specific List or Library item, Site Workflows were previously not supported. Fortunately, the same change that allows Reusable Workflows to work bettermakes it possible to integrate our software in Site Workflows.

 

So what has changed? Have a look at the old and new workflow sentences for the Convert Document action (the same change has been made to all other workflow actions)

Old Workflow SentenceOld Workflow Sentence

New Workflow Sentence New Workflow Sentence

 

As you can see, the change is simple. Previously it was a requirement to specify the document using a workflow look-up. Usually the workflow developer would specify ‘Current Item’ to refer to the document that started the workflow. However, it was also possible to carry out a lookup on a different, but always the same, list. Less than ideal when it comes to reusable workflows.

The new Workflow Sentence changes ‘this document’ to ‘this document or this source file’. As a result the new workflow actions are fully backwards compatible, any workflow created using the old actions will work just fine using the new ones. However, it is no longer necessary to always use a workflow lookup as this source file is a text field that accepts a file path.

Entering static text for the input file will rarely be the right solution as very few workflows always act on the same source file. The solution is to generate the path to the source file at run time, e.g. by storing it in a workflow variable. Alternatively you can carry out a lookup for the Encoded Absolute URL on the current item as per the screenshot below.
 

Workflow Lookup

 
This works particularly well for reusable workflows. Regardless of the list the workflow is associated with, this will always point to the item that the workflow was started on. For details about specifying paths using Muhimbi’s software, see this blog post.

 

A tutorial showing how to create re-usable workflows is outside the scope of this post, but please keep in mind that after publishing a reusable workflow it needs to be associated to a list or library using the ‘Add a Workflow’ option.

 

The SharePoint Online version of the new workflow actions can be found here. The new version of the on-premise Workflow Manager actions are included in version 8.2 of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint.

 

If you have any questions, or suggestions for additional improvements, then leave a comment below or contact us.

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