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PDF Converter Services 8.3 - New HTML & Image Converters

Posted at: 6:17 PM on 11 August 2017 by Muhimbi

PDFConverterServicesBox4_thumb3

We are happy to announce a new version of the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services. Although a lot of fixes, workaround and small tweaks have been added, the key change in the 8.3 release is a completely overhauled HTML to PDF Converter, which is more up to date with the latest web based technologies, and more importantly, no longer has a dependency on Internet Explorer.

The key changes are as follows:

  • Brand new Image Converter (For GIF, BMP, PNG and JPG)
  • Improved resource usage of OCR engine.
  • Support for PDF Named Destinations.    

SharePointConversion_thumb2_thumbOriginal Web page (left), converted to PDF using the Screen Media type (middle) and the Print Media type (right)

 

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. Separate SharePoint and Cloud-based Subscription services are available as well.
 

When upgrading from a previous version, read this Knowledge Base article first.

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

2980 AutoCAD Fix Fix text alignment issues in DWG Conversions
1822 AutoCAD Fix System.AccessViolationException under stress in DWG Conversions
2065 AutoCAD Improvement Improve performance of converting complex DWG files
2969 HTML Fix IE HTML Conversion adds additional white pages / repeats content
2966 HTML Fix IE HTML Converter hides half a line
3145 HTML Improvement Allow '-1' to be used for (HTML) ConversionDelay
3127 HTML Improvement Add conversion delay to Diagnostics Tool
2970 HTML Improvement IE HTML Conversion weird aspect ratio issue on form fields
2085 HTML Improvement HTML Converter - Investigate support for offline mode
1638 HTML Improvement Improve error messaging for HTML to PDF conversions.
1834 HTML Improvement Allow Proxy settings to be configured in config file.
2925 HTML New Completely overhaul HTML Converter
2946 HTML New Support 'Screen' and 'Print' CSS media types during HTML Conversion
1426 Image Improvement Completely overhaul the Image Converter
1005 InfoPath Fix Fix potential deadlock in InfoPath converter
2566 Merging Fix System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException when merging file
2937 Merging Fix System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException when merging file
2193 Merging New Add support for converting and merging files attached via PDF annotations
3233 MSG Fix Incorrect word breaking during MSG conversion
2918 MSG Fix MSG Converter does not process page numbers
2277 MSG Fix Rogue hyperlinks when converting some emails
2111 MSG Fix OLE Drawing object becomes opaque on IE9 when converting emails
2626 MSG Fix Text goes missing when converting emails under certain conditions
2628 MSG Fix Some images included twice when converting emails
2995 MSG Improvement Improve message for 'BreakOnUnsupportedAttachment'
3103 MS-Word Fix When converting to DOCX, documents are saved in 'compatibility mode'
3054 OCR Fix The characters 'fi' & 'fl' cannot be blacklisted during OCR Text extraction
3044 OCR Fix Chinese OCR not working properly
2465 OCR Fix OCRed PDFs balloon in file size when resaved in Acrobat DC
2951 OCR Fix Under high load, OCR operations sometimes results in a syntax error
2916 OCR Fix Small PDF Syntax errors in OCRed PDFs
2598 OCR Fix JPXDecoded files appear to leak memory during OCR
3019 OCR Improvement Improve OCR for PDFs that are internally rotated
2707 OCR Improvement Excessive memory use when parsing complex PDF file / OCR Generation
3039 Other Fix NullReferenceException in get_PageScaling() during postprocessing
2886 PDF Fix Add Page trimming to PDF Passthrough Converter
2160 PDF Fix Removing attachments from PDF balloons file size and slows down operations
2398 PDF Fix PDF Bookmark corruption when merging files and empty parent bookmarks
2466 PDF Fix Certain PDF files cause Acrobat Pro to crash
1871 PDF New Add support for turning bookmarks into PDF Named destinations
2406 Service Fix Conversion Service stuck on 'starting' after reboot
3038 Setup Fix Installer does not detect MS-Office click-to-run version
3104 Setup Fix Link to 'disable loopback' KB article broken.
2529 Setup Fix Additional firewall rule is created during every installation
2608 Setup Improvement Automate printer compression settings using code
2163 TIFF Fix Page orientation when converting TIFF is not always correctly identified
2859 TIFF New Allow page size and margins to be specified for TIFF conversions
3020 Watermarking Improvement Improve watermarking for PDFs that are internally rotated


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 (100MB). .

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Practical Nintex Forms to PDF Conversion using the PDF Converter for SharePoint

Posted at: 4:59 PM on 09 August 2017 by Muhimbi

Nintex Logo 2The Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint comes with support for a large number of file formats. MS-Word, Excel, InfoPath, PowerPoint, Visio, AutoCAD, Images, you name it. Although each file format has its own obvious uses, the ability to convert HTML is particularly useful as – in the age of Apps and Web Browsers - more and more information is exposed as either raw HTML or a URL.

We recently overhauled our HTML Converter to bring it in line with the latest standards. As a result it can convert some of the most advanced HTML content including SharePoint Pages, List Items and, the focus of this blog post, Nintex Forms.

 
As InfoPath is no longer actively developed by Microsoft, a number of alternatives have popped up over the years. As Nintex has a strong foothold in the SharePoint market, mainly because of their Nintex Workflow product (which we fully support), their Forms solution is an obvious choice for many. Quite a few of our customers use Nintex Forms in combination with the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint to convert a form to PDF when it reaches a certain stage, merge it with other documents, watermark it and archive / email it.

In this post we’ll show how to create a simple List, Nintex Form and associated Nintex Workflow to convert the form to PDF once the List Item has reached the Approved stage. The workflow is then enhanced with the ability to convert and merge all attached files.

Please keep in mind that – as per Nintex’ own guidelines – Nintex Forms is a tool for data capture, not for print (and by extension PDF) output. As a result you may need to be creative at times to achieve the desired results. In some cases it may be better to just take the SharePoint columns, filled out using Nintex Forms, and dynamically generate HTML or Word XML before passing that into the Muhimbi PDF Converter.

 

Prerequisites

Before you begin, please make sure the following prerequisites are in place.

  1. Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint, version 8.3 or later. (Download)
  2. Enable Muhimbi’s Nintex Workflow actions in Central Administration. (Details)
  3. Nintex Forms (We used the SharePoint 2016 version, but previous versions should work equally well).
  4. Nintex Workflow (The obvious choice, but it works equally well using our SharePoint Designer workflow actions).
  5. To make sure the Muhimbi Conversion Service has the appropriate privileges to access the list items, make sure the Windows Internet settings - for the account the Conversion Service runs under – is set to Automatic logon (run inetcpl.cpl / Security / Select Zone / Custom Level / User Authentication / Automatic login with current user name and password). For details about troubleshooting authentication issues, see this Knowledge Base article.
  6. Working knowledge of both Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflow.

 
Please note that this tutorial is for the on-premise version of SharePoint (2007-2016). Although both the Muhimbi PDF Converter and Nintex forms are available for SharePoint Online as well, due to technical reasons it is not possible to use them together at the time of writing. We are working on it though.

 

Getting started

OK, let’s get started by navigating to your favourite Site Collection, choosing the option to create a new Custom List and naming it Nintex Forms Demo.

Once the list has been created, add a column named Approved, of type Yes/No, with the default set to No. There are many ways to deal with approvals in SharePoint, for the sake of simplicity we use this simple field, but naturally you can easily modify the workflow to deal with your particular situation.

As a next step, modify the List’s Form using the Customise the Item Form option. (In SharePoint 2016 this can be found in the List Ribbon / Customize List section. This results in the following screen:   
 

Nintex-Forms-Editor

 
Obviously you have the option to customise the form to your heart’s content, but for the purpose of this demo the default looks great. Choose the option to publish the form.

With the custom form created, let’s create a workflow to convert the form to PDF once the item has been approved. Before we do, we need to figure out the URL of the form, as we need this information later.

  1. Add a new List item, fill it out and submit it.
  2. After submitting, click the newly created item to open it in Display mode.
  3. Copy the contents of the URL up to, and including, the ‘?ID=1’ section.
  4. Save it somewhere, we need it later in our workflow.

 

Close the form if it is still open, and from the List ribbon select the option to Create a Workflow in Nintex Workflow.

As a first step, we need to check if the list item has been approved, so insert the Run if workflow action and double click it to configure. Update it to set the Where clause to Approved equals Yes.

Next, drag the Convert URL or HTML to PDF workflow action inside the Run if action. Details about this action can be found here and here, for this example we fill it out as follows:

  • Destination Path: The path and file name to write the converted form to. Assuming there is a standard Shared Documents library in the current site, enter Shared Documents/Form-ID.pdf, where ID is inserted via Insert Reference / Item Properties / ID. Naturally you can choose your own output path and file name, for details see this blog post.
  • Source URL: Remember that we earlier saved the URL to the form’s display mode? Paste it here and make sure that behind ?ID=, you enter the Item’s current ID via Insert Reference / Item Properties / ID. The result should look something like
         http://YOUR_HOST_NAME/sites/Demo/Lists/Nintex%20Forms%20Demo/DispForm.aspx?ID={ItemProperty:ID}
  • HTML Engine: Although no need to set this in a clean – and unmodified – deployment of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint, there is a chance that an administrator has changed the default HTML Engine in the config file. To be sure, set this option to WebKit.
  • Media Type: Similar to the HTML Engine option, the default is set correctly for a clean deployment, but – as it is possible to override this setting in the config file – set it to Print.
  • Conversion delay: More about this later, but if you end up with an incomplete PDF rendition of the form, set this value to something like 2000 (milliseconds), which is the time to wait between loading the form, resolving all external dependencies, and starting the PDF Conversion process.

Finally, use the Workflow Settings option to start the workflow when items are created and modified.
 

The final workflow should look as follows, publish it, name it Convert Form to PDF upon approval, and close the editor.
 

Nintex-Forms-Workflow

 
With everything in place, create or update a list item and set the Approved field to Yes. After a few seconds a PDF rendition of the form will be placed in the output folder and look similar to the following.
 

Nintex-Forms-PDF

  

Fine tuning

As you can see above, the generated PDF looks great and provides a good rendition of the form. However, you may want to tweak things around a bit. As Nintex Forms provides the ability to provide custom CSS as well as JavaScript, the sky is the limit as our HTML Converter supports both.

For example, you may not want to include the Content Type, Created at, and Last modified at labels in the PDF. We can solve this by setting the associated HTML element’s style to display: none. The trick is to figure out the name of the element first.

  1. Click the list item (not the PDF) to open it in Display mode in Google Chrome.
  2. Press CTRL-SHIFT-C to open the Element picker.
  3. Move the mouse near the area you want to hide. You will usually find a container that surrounds the entire area.
  4. Write down the name of the element, in this case table.nf-form-footer, so we can create some CSS to hide it. See screenshot below.
     

Nintex-Forms-Picker

 
To hide these labels, re-open the Nintex Forms editor, click on Settings and open the Custom CSS section. A number of CSS entries may already be present, so scroll to the bottom and add the following:

@media print
{
    table.nf-form-footer {display: none; }
    input[type=submit] { display: none; }
}

Please note the following:

  • We wrap the CSS in a ‘@media print’ section to make sure these changes are only applied during printing (PDF Conversion is considered printing).
  • Additional CSS has been added to hide buttons as well. There is no need to include these in the PDF.

Save the settings and republish the form to activate the changes. Create / update a list item, make sure it is set to Approved and open the newly generated PDF. The information we are not interested in has now been removed from the PDF.

As mentioned previously, the sky is the limit. Use CSS and JavaScript (JQuery?) to change the form as much as needed. Our PDF Converter will apply your customisations automatically.

TOP TIP: If you wish to run JavaScript only during PDF Conversion, add a value to the URL (e.g. PDF=True) and check for the presence of that value as part of your custom JavaScript.

 

Advanced fine tuning

In addition to changing the look and feel of the form using CSS and JavaScript, the Muhimbi PDF Converter makes it possible to tweak other settings as well, specifically:

  • Page Orientation: Change the orientation to suit the layout of your form. This setting can be changed globally in the Conversion Service’s configuration file, or on a request by request basis in the Workflow Action.
  • Page Margins: By default, a 0.5 inch margin surrounds the content of the page. This setting can be modified in the Conversion Service’s configuration file.
  • Page Size: The default option for the page size is Letter, this can be changed – e.g. to A4 – in the Conversion Service’s configuration file.
  • ViewPort Size: This one is tricky, but powerful if you need it. It is possible to simulate the size of the browser window. This can come in useful when converting a form that was designed for Mobile use. E.g. use 375x667 to simulate an iPhone 6. This setting can be controlled via the workflow action as well as the configuration file.

For details about how to edit the Conversion Service’s configuration file, see this Knowledge Base article.

 

Page breaks

Although Nintex Forms comes with a built-in page breaking facility, this is not recognised by third party browsers such as Google Chrome and Muhimbi’s HTML Converter. We’ll spare you the full details, but it is related to how Nintex Forms positions the various form elements on screen.

We are working with Nintex to see if we can implement a workaround. Until then we recommend to pay extra attention when authoring large forms that span multiple pages. During the design phase, carry out tests using the Muhimbi PDF Converter and make sure all looks well once converted to PDF.

 

Merging Attachments

Still reading? Wow, you must be really interested in this topic.

Let’s make a useful enhancement to the workflow by converting all the list item’s attachments, and merging everything – including the form itself - into a single PDF. This is where things get fun, and a bit complex as Nintex Workflow does not provide any workflow actions for dealing with attachments.

Please note that this enhancement uses the REST service introduced in SharePoint 2013. For older versions this sample will need to be changed to use the Web Service interface utilised by older SharePoint versions. Have a look at this post in the Nintex Community.

Before we modify the workflow, please make sure that in Nintex’ Central Admin section the Query XML action is enabled.

Edit the workflow we created earlier and add another Run if action INSIDE (not after) the previously created Run if action. Double click it to configure, and set the Where clause to Attachments equals Yes.

As we need a workflow variable to store the list of attachments in, create a workflow variable named Attachments of type Collection.

Next, drag the Query XML workflow action inside the Run if action, and fill it out as follows:

  • URL to XML file: Insert the URL to the REST end-point for the current item. The URL will be similar to the following, make sure you enter your own host name, site name, list name (if different from our example), and replace the ‘2’ in items(2) with a reference to the current item id. (See screenshot below for an example where we have used Insert Reference to make it all dynamic).

       http://YOUR_HOST_NAME/sites/Demo/_api/web/lists/getbytitle('Nintex%20Forms%20Demo')/items(2)/attachmentfiles     
     
  • Username / Password: Enter the credentials of a user with the privileges to read the item’s data.
  • Output 1: Enter the following XPath statement //d:ServerRelativeUrl
  • Store results in: Select the Attachments workflow variable created earlier.

 

The end result should look as follows.

Nintex-Forms-Attachments

We are almost there, we have a PDF rendition of the main form and a list of attachments. All that is needed is to merge it all into one PDF for easy archiving / distribution.

Directly after the Query XML action, insert the Muhimbi Merge files to PDF action. Details about this action can be found here, for this example we’ll fill it out as follows:

  • Destination Path: In this example we want to overwrite the file that was generated in the first step, so we specify the exact same path and file name as before, Shared Documents/Form-ID.pdf, where ID is inserted via Insert Reference / Item Properties / ID. Amend this to match your specific requirements.
  • Source Files: As we want to include the PDF rendition of the form created in step 1, on the first line we enter the path and file name, including the reference to the current item:

      Shared Documents/form-{ItemProperty:ID}.pdf
     
    On the next line we want to insert the list of attachments. The list retrieved earlier uses a ‘;’ to delimit each individual attachment. The Muhimbi Merge action requires each attachment to be on its own line, so we carry out a Replace operation:

       fn-Replace({WorkflowVariable:Attachments}, ";", {Common:NewLine})

That is it, we can ignore the other fields, the results should look as follows.

Nintex-Forms-Merge

 
The overall workflow is relatively simple, and looks as follows. All the magic happens inside each action.
 

Nintex-Forms-Workflow-Finale

We are DONE!

Publish the workflow, add or edit a list item, add one or more attachments (making sure the file format is supported), set the list item to Approved and save it. The workflow will complete in a few seconds, once completed you can find a PDF file containing both the Nintex Form and all attachments in the Shared Document library.

Download the workflow here. Once imported, please review the various workflow actions, check that the paths are correct for your particular situation and enter the credentials in the Query XML action.

 

Further enhancements

When we earlier mentioned that we were done, that was an obvious lie. We are never done, people always want more. The possibilities are endless, some refinement that come to mind:

  1. PDF/A: Convert the end result to PDF/A, a specific subset of the PDF standard for archiving purposes and THE format recommended / demanded by most regulatory bodies. Providing you have a Muhimbi PDF Converter Professional add-on license, the generated PDF file can be fed back into the Muhimbi Convert Document activity alongside some XML.
  2. Unsupported attachments: Although the Muhimbi PDF Converter supports the most common file types, you may want to filter out attachments for file types that are not supported (e.g. zip).

 

  

Troubleshooting

With a workflow this awesome, there are always things that can go wrong. The most common problems are as follows:

  1. Authentication: As mentioned in the Prerequisites section, it is essential that the Muhimbi Conversion Service can authenticate against the list item. For details see this Knowledge Base article.
  2. Incomplete Forms:  If the Nintex Form is very complex and depends on external resources (e.g. database requests, external images, or custom JavaScript), then it may take some time for the form to fully finish loading resulting in an incomplete PDF. If this happens, try to gradually increase the Conversion Delay, part of the Convert URL or HTML to PDF workflow action. (The value is specified in milliseconds, try 2000 for a 2 second delay).
    

That is all for today. Feel free to enhance the workflow by watermarking the end result, securing the file, performing OCR and merging it with other files.

Any comments or questions? Leave a message below or contact our friendly support desk. We are here to help.

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PDF Converter for SharePoint 8.3 - New HTML / SharePoint page converter

Posted at: 3:39 PM on 07 August 2017 by Muhimbi

PDFBox5

Shortly after releasing version 8.2 of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint - which added support for SharePoint 2016 as well as Nintex Workflow 2016 - we sat down to identify the main pain-points reported by customers, see what we could do to make life easier for everyone. It soon became clear that the number one pain-point is our HTML Converter, specifically where it comes to converting SharePoint 2013 (and later) pages and related content such as List Items and Nintex Forms.

Although we have supported HTML & URL conversions for years, due to architectural changes in SharePoint, Windows, and Internet Explorer, things just didn’t work as well as they did in the SharePoint 2007 and 2010 eras.

To cut an almost 10 month long story short, today we are releasing version 8.3 of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint.  The key changes are as follows:

  • Brand new HTML Converter (For SharePoint pages, List items, Nintex Forms etc)
  • Brand new Image Converter (For GIF, BMP, PNG and JPG)
  • Improved resource usage of OCR engine.
  • Support for PDF Named Destinations.    

SharePointConversion_thumb2Original SharePoint Web page (left), converted to PDF using the Screen Media type (middle) and the Print Media type (right)

 

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. This ‘on-premise’ version of the PDF Converter requires software to be installed on the SharePoint 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.


When upgrading from a previous version, read this Knowledge Base article first.


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

2980 AutoCAD Fix Fix text alignment issues in DWG Conversions
1822 AutoCAD Fix System.AccessViolationException under stress in DWG Conversions
2065 AutoCAD Improvement Improve performance of converting complex DWG files
2969 HTML Fix IE HTML Conversion adds additional white pages / repeats content
2966 HTML Fix IE HTML Converter hides half a line
2975 HTML Improvement Add support new HTML Converter features to all Workflow Engines
3145 HTML Improvement Allow '-1' to be used for (HTML) ConversionDelay
3127 HTML Improvement Add conversion delay to Diagnostics Tool
2970 HTML Improvement IE HTML Conversion weird aspect ratio issue on form fields
2085 HTML Improvement HTML Converter - Investigate support for offline mode
1638 HTML Improvement Improve error messaging for HTML to PDF conversions.
1834 HTML Improvement Allow Proxy settings to be configured in config file.
2925 HTML New Completely overhaul HTML Converter
2946 HTML New Support 'Screen' and 'Print' CSS media types during HTML Conversion
1426 Image Improvement Completely overhaul the Image Converter
1005 InfoPath Fix Fix potential deadlock in InfoPath converter
2566 Merging Fix System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException when merging file
2937 Merging Fix System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException when merging file
2193 Merging New Add support for converting and merging files attached via PDF annotations
3233 MSG Fix Incorrect word breaking during MSG conversion
2918 MSG Fix MSG Converter does not process page numbers
2277 MSG Fix Rogue hyperlinks when converting some emails
2111 MSG Fix OLE Drawing object becomes opaque on IE9 when converting emails
2626 MSG Fix Text goes missing when converting emails under certain conditions
2628 MSG Fix Some images included twice when converting emails
2995 MSG Improvement Improve message for 'BreakOnUnsupportedAttachment'
3103 MS-Word Fix When converting to DOCX, documents are saved in 'compatibility mode'
3054 OCR Fix The characters 'fi' & 'fl' cannot be blacklisted during OCR Text extraction
3044 OCR Fix Chinese OCR not working properly
2465 OCR Fix OCRed PDFs balloon in file size when resaved in Acrobat DC
2951 OCR Fix Under high load, OCR operations sometimes results in a syntax error
2916 OCR Fix Small PDF Syntax errors in OCRed PDFs
2598 OCR Fix JPXDecoded files appear to leak memory during OCR
3019 OCR Improvement Improve OCR for PDFs that are internally rotated
2707 OCR Improvement Excessive memory use when parsing complex PDF file / OCR Generation
3039 Other Fix NullReferenceException in get_PageScaling() during postprocessing
2886 PDF Fix Add Page trimming to PDF Passthrough Converter
2160 PDF Fix Removing attachments from PDF balloons file size and slows down operations
2398 PDF Fix PDF Bookmark corruption when merging files and empty parent bookmarks
2466 PDF Fix Certain PDF files cause Acrobat Pro to crash
1871 PDF New Add support for turning bookmarks into PDF Named destinations
3146 PowerShell Fix Enable-SPListWatermarkFilter does not work as expected
2406 Service Fix Conversion Service stuck on 'starting' after reboot
3038 Setup Fix Installer does not detect MS-Office click-to-run version
3104 Setup Fix Link to 'disable loopback' KB article broken.
2529 Setup Fix Additional firewall rule is created during every installation
3110 Setup Improvement Rename 'SP2013' in WSP names to 'SP2010-2016'
2608 Setup Improvement Automate printer compressions settings using code
2429 Setup Improvement Remove all references to 'SP2013' for workflow manager actions
2163 TIFF Fix Page orientation when converting TIFF is not always correctly identified
2859 TIFF New Allow page size and margins to be specified for TIFF conversions
3050 Watermarking Fix Real-time watermark on open does not work when file is dragged to desktop.
3020 Watermarking Improvement Improve watermarking for PDFs that are internally rotated
3069 Workflow Fix Error applying XML override for End Page.
3006 Workflow Improvement Add 'DocumentStartPage' support to Workflow Manager action
2783 Workflow Improvement Improve support for Long Running Operations to Workflow Manager actions.


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 (105MB). .

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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.            
 

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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