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Automatically populate PDF Forms with SharePoint List Data

Posted at: 8:45 AM on 12 September 2014 by Unknown

formsWe all love filling out forms, especially those in Human Resources- making sure that every employee has the newest iteration of city/district/state withholding forms completed on time makes the day fly by.  There are those however, who look at this as a waste of time- most of the information already exists in SharePoint, so why can’t the completion of these forms just be automated in a way that presents them in a format acceptable for submission? 

The Muhimbi Converter for SharePoint has long had the ability to convert SharePoint list items (including those customized with InfoPath or Nintex Forms) as well as inserting list item data into a PDF document.  This allows the list data, along with the look and feel of the form to be converted to PDF.  The problem is, even with some tweaking, it also includes extraneous formatting and getting the sizing just right, so it appears exactly like a standard form, is very difficult or will not work properly if the source is already a PDF and so links to list data cannot be added to it.

So, what’s the solution..?  Why not just use the actual form that needs filling out as a template and then simply watermark the required data into it?  List item fields are stored in SharePoint and can be accessed using Muhimbi’s great XML watermarking format, so this is actually quite easy.

To keep this example simple, we’ll start out with a plain SharePoint list that contains a number of custom columns holding basic personal information:

 list

 
We then place a PDF copy of the form to be filled out, in this case a U.S. W-9, in a library accessible to the workflow.

 W-9 

Our example uses a simple workflow that watermarks this PDF using our XML syntax that can pull in the list item data as the content for the watermark.  There are a couple of things to note about this action. It does not run against the list item that started the workflow, but rather the source W-9 PDF that we are watermarking, so that document’s Source List ID and List Item is specified.  As well, since we are adding the watermark content from the list item, we have copied that content to workflow variables so it’s referenced properly, no matter what item is being worked on. 

The following screenshot shows our software being used in Nintex workflow, but it works equally well in SharePoint Designer workflows and Visual Studio workflows.  A basic understanding of workflows is required, if needed you can learn about SharePoint Designer workflows here and Nintex workflows here.
 

watermarkAction

 
This sample XML places the first and last name of the user (as defined in the First and Last workflow variables) in the correct location:

<watermarks>

  <!—** First Watermark inserts the First Name -->
  <watermark 
    hPosition="absolute" 
    vPosition="absolute" 
    x="40"
    y="54"
    width="100"
    height="100"
    zOrder="1"
    opacity="100">
    <text
      hPosition="left"
      vPosition="top"
      width="90"
      height="90"
      fillcolor="#000000"
      content="{WorkflowVariable:First}"
      fontFamilyName="Times New Roman" 
      fontSize="9" 
      fontStyle="bold" 
      wordWrap="word"
      /> 
  </watermark>

  <!-- ** Second watermark inserts the Last Name-->
  <watermark 
    hPosition="absolute"
    vPosition="absolute" 
    x="80"
    y="54"
    width="100"
    height="100"
    zOrder="1"
    opacity="100">
    <text
      hPosition="left"
      vPosition="top"
      width="90"
      height="90"
      fillcolor="#000000"
      content="{WorkflowVariable:Last}"
      fontFamilyName="Times New Roman" 
      fontSize="9" 
      fontStyle="bold" 
      wordWrap="word"
      /> 
  </watermark>

</watermarks>

 

The placement of the watermarks is specified using the specific coordinates of where the data needs to be placed.  The coordinates are specified in Points (1/72nd of an inch).  After running the workflow on the two items in the list, we get 2 separate PDFs with the custom information watermarked into them.

 
David Radford W-9.pdf

DR

 
Bob Denver W-9.pdf

BD

 
Once this is in place, it is very simple to just modify the watermarking action to move the data to different locations, allowing multiple different forms to be filled out in a single workflow.  As well, when forms change slightly, all that needs to be done is change the coordinates of the fields that moved, and everything works again.

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Convert dBase, DisplayWrite, Lotus Manuscript, Access, and more to PDF

Posted at: 10:55 AM on 11 September 2014 by Unknown

Government compliance guidelines and corporate retention policies are always changing- and rarely in a way that makes things easier for the IT staff.  Long forgotten documents, saved in obsolete formats can all of a sudden need to be formally archived or made accessible to staff- all with very little notice.  Once that happens, the ‘archive’ directory on the old file server in the corner can quickly turn into a nightmare- “Does anyone know where the IBM DisplayWrite install disks went?”

Both the Muhimbi Converter for SharePoint and Muhimbi Converter Services natively convert many different document types and more can be easily added with our ability to add 3rd party converters.  Our Office format converters can handle many older file formats, but the truly obsolete ones are not supported anymore- the last version of MS-Word that included a DisplayWrite converter was MS-Word 2000.

Adding 3rd party converters is a great way to add support for your legacy formats, while still being able to leverage our Converter’s latest and greatest features.  The sky is really the limit- you could create a workflow that converts, watermarks, copies meta-data, and merges a brand new InfoPath form to old dBase database tables and then, without any modification, could turn around and do the same for an AutoCad file and DisplayWrite document! 

If you’re using the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services, your own code does not require any modification to allow users to use the same process to submit any of the listed file types to it- once integrated with Muhimbi’s Converter, these formats can be manipulated like any other. Who would ever have thought that you’d be able to convert file formats that are 40 years old using a modern web services based API using Java, C#, Ruby and PHP.

As these formats are obsolete and not in high demand, we didn’t hold out much hope of finding a relatively modern Converter for them.  Luckily, we were wrong, and a bit of searching led us to Advanced Computer Innovations Inc. and their FileMerlin product.  FileMerlin supports conversion of a dizzying array of file formats and some deserve special attention. 

 

Database Conversion

The Muhimbi Converter does not support Microsoft Access (or other database formats) conversion as achieving the fidelity we demand from our own conversions would require a considerable effort for something that is not in very high demand.  FileMerlin provides good conversion of MS Access, dBase, FoxPro, Microsoft Jet, along with other database formats.  Trying to convert the look and feel of a database to file obviously doesn’t work, but for extracting table data, it does quite well.

 

Word Processor Conversion

By far the largest selection of conversion options is in the word processor arena.  This provides conversion for formats like the aforementioned DisplayWrite, as well as WordPerfect, WordStar, Lotus Manuscript, among many others.  Again, the conversion fidelity on these is not perfect, but it is good and most importantly, does not require you to find these old applications in order to open and save them into a more accessible format. 

 

Microsoft Office Conversion

FileMerlin supports the conversion of the most common MS Office file formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).  Since these conversion do not use MS Office in the background like Muhimbi’s Converters, their fidelity is not as good and newer Office formats can cause some problems as well.  That being said, in an environment where installing MS Office to support conversions is not an option, this could be a good solution.

So, how do you get this working?  The process is pretty much the same as for our other 3rd party converters.  Starting with the assumption that the Converter for SharePoint or Converter Services has already been installed, the following steps need to be carried out:

  1. Download and install FileMerlin.
  2. Modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file as described here and add the following entry to the<MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section.  This tells the Converter what file types can be Converted to PDF. If you installed the 3rd party software in a different path then please update the content of the parameter attribute.

 

<add key="RFTConverter"
     description="RFT to PDF Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="rft"
     supportedOutputFormats="pdf"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\ACI Programs (x86)\FMerlin\fmn.exe | in({0}) sfrm(rft) out({1}) dfrm(pdf)"/>

 

In the above example we added the DisplayWrite (RFT) to PDF Converter.  In this next one, we will add another entry to allow MS Access conversion to HTML.

<add key="MDBConverter"
     description="MDB to PDF Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="mdb"
     supportedOutputFormats="txt"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\ACI Programs (x86)\FMerlin\fmn.exe | in({0}) sfrm(msac) out({1}) dfrm(moxml)"/>

 

If you want to convert other formats as well, you will need to change the supportedExtensions and/or the supportedOutputFormats entries to include the file type extensions you want to convert.  As well, you will need to change the sfrm and dfrm fields as well.  FileMerlin can support auto detection of file types, however it is much more reliable to specify them manually and simply add the required 3rd party convert entries for each type.

Normally, we’d add some before and after samples of something like a DisplayWrite file conversion, but the boiler for our DisplayWriter terminal is out of coal, so we’ll have to stick with something a bit more current, an MS-Word conversion to PDF.  The image on the right is the document as displayed in MS-Word and the one on the left is the PDF converted by FileMerlin as seen in a PDF viewer.  You’ll notice that the fidelity is not as good as our native converter, however it should give a good representation of the conversions that can be expected with this tool.
 

merged

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Convert PDF to XLSX, PDF to DOC & PDF to HTML using Muhimbi’s Server Side Converters

Posted at: 3:07 PM on 24 July 2014 by Unknown

refreshAlthough our software also support cross conversion between a number of file types, at Muhimbi our focus has always been on converting a wide range of document types to PDF with perfect fidelity. Well, why just let people convert to PDF?  Why not look at ways to allow conversion from PDF? 

As regular readers of our blog might have already guessed, this is where our ability to integrate 3rd party converters into both the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint and Muhimbi PDF Converter Services comes in handy yet again!

Finding a good 3rd party command line converter to use as an example is always a challenge for us.  Our developers have spent countless hours refining Muhimbi’s own converters and so we rarely find one that completely meets our standards.  We are proud of our products and don’t want to suggest integrating them with another converter that won’t produce the same high quality, consistent results that we insist upon for our own converters.  The search has been especially difficult for this particular post as the range of supported features between the various converters, not to mention the price, is so vast.  So, while we’ll focus on one Converter, we’ll mention some others that provide some specific conversion options that might be more suitable for your particular needs.
 
Please note that we do not have any formal or informal relationships with the companies mentioned in this post. They are merely the result of a brief Google Search session.
 
PDF to Excel conversion is tricky since the process is a bit like trying to rebuild a sand castle after a wave has hit it- all the sand (data) is still there, but shape (cell formatting) is gone.  Other formats are easier and so the approach we’ll take in this example is to use a converter that automates the creation of the cells based on its best guess as well as being able to handle multiple formats.  This isn’t perfect, but it simplifies the conversion tremendously while still providing a good example of how the conversion works.  Total PDF Converter X from CoolUtils is a lightweight conversion application with a simple command line and provides a good quality conversion.  It’s available as a free trial and at the time of writing costs $159.90 to purchase.  It provides conversion support from PDF to a wide variety of formats- DOC, RTF, XLSX, HTML, EPS, PS, TXT, CSV and images (BMP, JPEG, GIF, WMF, EMF, PNG, TIFF).

As always, we start with the assumption that the Converter for SharePoint or Converter Services is properly installed.  Once that is done carry out the following steps:

  1. Download and install Total PDF Converter X.
  2. Modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file as described here and add the following entry to the <MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section.  This tells the Converter that PDFs can be converted to XLSX. If you installed the 3rd party software in a different path then please update the content of the parameter attribute.

<add key="PDF_XLSXConverter"
     description="PDF to XLSX Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="pdf"
     supportedOutputFormats="xlsx"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\Program Files (x86)\Total PDF ConverterX\pdfconverterx.exe | {0} {1} -c xls"/>

 

Now, if you want to be able to convert PDFs to DOC format, the command is just slightly modified as seen below:

<add key="PDF_DOCConverter"
     description="PDF to DOC Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="pdf"
     supportedOutputFormats="doc"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\Program Files (x86)\Total PDF ConverterX\pdfconverterx.exe | {0} {1} -c doc"/>

 

The same changes can be made to allow conversion to any of the supported formats.  And, before you ask- YES!  You can add multiple entries to the config file to allow conversion from PDF to multiple types.

So, what do the results look like?  Here we have an image of a typical PDF based quote:

PDF_quote

Then here, you have the conversion to an Excel file:

XLSX_quote

 

So, as we’ve seen, this a good option that provides a great selection of conversion choices.  Depending on your needs though, it might not provide the conversion flexibility required for something like Excel, or if you just need PDF to Word conversion, might not be worth the expense.

The addition of this converter allows SharePoint to take advantage of this conversion ability through workflows simply by changing the output format of the workflow to the desired type in the ‘Convert Document’ workflow action for SharePoint Designer and Nintex workflows.  In order to allow SharePoint to process PDF files, which by default are not routed to the Converter, please run the following command from a SharePoint Command or PowerShell prompt:

     stsadm.exe -o setproperty -pn Muhimbi.SharePoint.DocumentConverter.PDF.SkipPDFFiles -pv false

 

For PDF to Excel conversion there are a few other options:

  • Intelligent Converters has the PDF-To-Excel converter for $29.  It provides good conversion from PDF to Excel if you are primarily interested in extracting the data from the PDF and saving it in Excel format.
  • A-PDF.COM has the A-PDF to Excel converter for $39.  It provides about the same level of conversion as PDF-To-Excel, but also uses a template file for conversion.  This could be very helpful if you have a large number of consistent PDFs that need to be converted and want to specify cells and formatting for the conversions.

For PDF to Word conversion there is a decent free option from Weeny Software, Free PDF to Word Converter.  The conversion has some problems with complex formatting (it creates quite good RTF documents), but if you are more concerned about getting the data into Word format than the way it looks, it is a good option.

 

Any questions or feedback? Leave a comment in the section below or contact us, we love talking to our customers.

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A hop, skip, and a Tiff- Converting all supported document types to Tiff

Posted at: 7:29 AM on 15 July 2014 by Unknown

filetype_tiffBoth the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint and Muhimbi PDF Converter Services have long been able to  cross-convert one file format to another out of the box, not just to PDF.  This works very well, but what happens when you really want to mix it up- say convert a grid based text format like Excel to a multi-page image format like TIFF?  As we told the customer who requested this- “I’m not sure, but I know we can figure it out for you!”

And so here it is!  The solution is actually fairly simple and relies on two features that already exist within Muhimbi’s Converter products.  The first is the multi-step converter we built to allow cross-conversions and the second is our ability to integrate 3rd party converters within Muhimbi’s own conversion process.

The multi-step converter allows for an intermediate format to be used when there is no converter that can directly convert between the file types requested.  This stepping stone approach happens inside the Converter and is completely invisible to the user.  There is only one step to creating the multi-step TIFF converter:

  1. Modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file as described here and add the following entry to the <MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section.  This tells the Converter that all the listed extensions can be converted to TIFF by first converting them to PDF and then from there to TIFF.

 

<add key="CrossConverter_TIFF"
    description="Convert all formats to TIFF"
    fidelity="Full"
    supportedExtensions="xml,infopathxml,doc,docx,docm,rtf,txt,wps,odt,ott,xls,xlsx,xlsm,xlsb,
    csv,dif,ods,ots,html,htm,mht,gif,png,jpg,jpeg,bmp,ppt,pptx,pptm,xml,odp,otp,pps,
    ppsx,ppsm,vsd,vdx,svg,svgz,vdw,dxf,dwg,msg,eml"
    supportedOutputFormats="tiff"
    type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.MultiStepConverterFullFidelity,
    Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
    PublicKeyToken=c9db4759c9eaad12">
  <steps>
    <step from="" to="pdf"/>
    <step from="pdf" to=""/>
  </steps>
</add>      

 

The 3rd party converter integration actually allows the Converter to do the conversion from PDF to TIFF and complete the job.  This step is really no different than adding any 3rd party converter.  It also has the added benefit of allowing PDF to TIFF conversion.

  1. Download the latest Ghostscript GPL Release from the Ghostscript website (please ensure you download the Windows Version).
  2. Install Ghostscript in a location of your choice on every server that runs the Muhimbi Conversion Service. Please make note of the location of the installation so you can point the Converter to it in the XML fragment listed below.

 

The next step is to modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file again and add the following entry to the same <MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section. Please remove the line wrapping from the content of the parameter attribute, this example has been reformatted to make it fit in a browser window. Please update the location of the Ghostscript executable as well.

<add key="PDF_TIFFConverter"
     description="PDF to TIFF Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="pdf"
     supportedOutputFormats="tiff"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\Program Files\gs\gs9.14\bin\gswin64c.exe |-dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=tiff24nc 
-sCompression=lzw -r300x300 -sOutputFile={1} {0}
"/>

 
More details on the Muhimbi parameters can be found here, though you shouldn’t need to change them.   You can also review the various Ghostscript options here, especially the resolution that is used (-r300x300) as you may wish to change this in order to suit your specific needs.

NOTE- For this to work you must be on at least version 7.2.1 of the Muhimbi PDF Converter.

There you go- your Muhimbi Converter can now convert all supported formats to multi-page TIFF as well!  Want to convert an InfoPath or MSG file – including all attachments – to TIFF and apply watermarks in the process? Now you can.

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PDF Converter Services 7.2.1 – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Posted at: 6:19 PM on 08 July 2014 by Muhimbi

PDFConverterServicesBox4_thumb3

When releasing several new versions of a product each year - like we do with the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services - it's easy to overlook the overall stability and performance of the product in pursuit of new features. Sure, adding new features is fun, but adding stability and performance improvements is just as important, if not more so.

To make sure that everything will continue to work smoothly and reliably, we have dedicated an entire release to just this topic. We have fixed a number of important issues and improved performance, but all work and no play isn't the way to go either. So, we STILL found some time to sneak a few new features in, particularly the ability to convert files attached to PDFs and translate email and calendar labels for the language of your choice.

We haven't just been looking through our code- we've also be talking with our customers about how they're using the Converter. This has lead to a number of new blog posts suggesting new ways to use the existing features already present in the Converter.  For example, you can easily add new conversion types as described in these recent blog posts about adding PCL and XPS to PDF Conversion using free third party software.

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.
 

Calendar-to-PDF-Conversion-German5  Converted Calendar Entry in English and German


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

2064 CAD Fix CAD Converter - Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
2205 CAD Fix CAD Converter - NullRefException converting CAD file.
2206 CAD Fix CAD Converter - ArgumentOutOfRangeException while converting CAD file.
2115 CAD Fix CAD Converter - Hatch Lines fill not correct.
2217 CAD Improvement CAD Converter - Increase performance, reduce file size and improve compatibility
2158 Excel Fix Excel fails to load certain documents in Excel 2013 with the following error: "Unable to get the Open property of the Workbooks class".
2159 Excel Improvement Excel files with external links open very slowly.
2145 HTML Fix Occasionally in-line images go missing when converting HTML/MSG to PDF.
2012 Merging Fix Internal hyperlinks are broken when merging certain documents.
2167 Merging Fix Merge operations cannot be executed as PDF/A due to problem with security settings.
2184 MSG Fix MSG to PDF - Attachment name not recognised when MSG is exported using ANSI.
2208 MSG Fix MSG to PDF - Converting email returns empty PDF.
1898 MSG Improvement MSG to PDF - Allow email labels to be translated.
2154 OCR Fix OCR Speeds 'fast' and 'rapid' stopped working.
2156 OCR Fix OCR - Occasional error under load.
2230 Other Improvement Add support for specifying additional output formats such as 'TIFF, PNG, GIF, JPG, PS, BMP, PCL' (This does not include native support for converting to these formats, which requires third party plug ins)
2109 PDF New Add support for converting and merging files attached to PDFs.
2122 TIFF Fix Converting certain TIFF files to PDF shows empty in Acrobat Reader.
2103 Watermarking Fix Watermarking certain documents causes problem in Adobe Reader 9.
2186 Watermarking Fix Watermarking Crystal Report files causes exception.
2161 Word Fix Corrupt MS-Word file is never removed from Temp folder.

 

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 (39MB). .

.

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PDF Converter for SharePoint 7.2.1–Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Posted at: 5:46 PM on by Muhimbi

PDFBox5

When releasing several new versions of a product each year - like we do with the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint - it's easy to overlook the overall stability and performance of the product in pursuit of new features. Sure, adding new features is fun, but adding stability and performance improvements is just as important, if not more so.

To make sure that everything will continue to work smoothly and reliably, we have dedicated an entire release to just this topic. We have fixed a number of important issues and improved performance, but all work and no play isn't the way to go either. So, we STILL found some time to sneak a few new features in, particularly the ability to convert files attached to PDFs and translate email and calendar labels for the language of your choice.

We haven't just been looking through our code- we've also be talking with our customers about how they're using the Converter. This has lead to a number of new blog posts suggesting new ways to use the existing features already present in the Converter.  For example, you can easily add new conversion types as described in these recent blog posts about adding PCL and XPS to PDF Conversion using free third party software.

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, localisation, security and tracing. It runs on SharePoint 2007, 2010 & 2013 and is available in English, German, Dutch, French, Traditional Chinese and Japanese. For detailed information check out the product page.
 

Calendar-to-PDF-Conversion (German)  Converted Calendar Entry in English and German


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

2064 CAD Fix CAD Converter - Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
2205 CAD Fix CAD Converter - NullRefException converting CAD file.
2206 CAD Fix CAD Converter - ArgumentOutOfRangeException while converting CAD file.
2115 CAD Fix CAD Converter - Hatch Lines fill not correct.
2217 CAD Improvement CAD Converter - Increase performance, reduce file size and improve compatibility
2158 Excel Fix Excel fails to load certain documents in Excel 2013 with the following error: "Unable to get the Open property of the Workbooks class".
2159 Excel Improvement Excel files with external links open very slowly.
2145 HTML Fix Occasionally in-line images go missing when converting HTML/MSG to PDF.
2012 Merging Fix Internal hyperlinks are broken when merging certain documents.
2214 Merging Fix Converting List Item Attachments using Merge Facility.
2167 Merging Fix Merge operations cannot be executed as PDF/A due to problem with security settings.
2184 MSG Fix MSG to PDF - Attachment name not recognised when MSG is exported using ANSI.
2208 MSG Fix MSG to PDF - Converting email returns empty PDF.
1898 MSG Improvement MSG to PDF - Allow email labels to be translated.
2154 OCR Fix OCR Speeds 'fast' and 'rapid' stopped working.
2156 OCR Fix OCR - Occasional error under load.
2230 Other Improvement Add support for specifying additional output formats such as 'TIFF, PNG, GIF, JPG, PS, BMP, PCL' (This does not include native support for converting to these formats, which requires third party plug ins)
2109 PDF New Add support for converting and merging files attached to PDFs.
1915 SharePoint Fix Duplicate sitemap node exception on SP2013 after redeployment.
2122 TIFF Fix Converting certain TIFF files to PDF shows empty in Acrobat Reader.
2103 Watermarking Fix Watermarking certain documents causes problem in Adobe Reader 9.
2186 Watermarking Fix Watermarking Crystal Report files causes exception.
2161 Word Fix Corrupt MS-Word file is never removed from Temp folder.


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 (46MB). .

.

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Disable Downloading of PDFs in SharePoint- While still Being Able to View Them

Posted at: 5:34 AM on 17 June 2014 by Unknown

Policy

It wasn’t too long ago that document security and access management was handled by locked file rooms and sign-out sheets.  With the advent of Document Management environments like SharePoint and other products that extend it’s features, such as Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint, this has largely changed.  These products enable companies to provide both efficient access to their documents while also maintaining control over their distribution.

Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint has long provided features beyond simply converting documents to PDF.  By also including the ability to add security to PDFs and create dynamic watermarks when PDFs are opened, we’ve made it possible for documents to be shared more widely by businesses, while still giving them control and accountability over these documents once they’ve left SharePoint.  However, one feature that has always been beyond our control has been allowing PDFs to be viewed, but not downloaded.  The PDF format just isn’t built that way and any attempt to disable downloads while still allowing viewing would simply result in a false sense of security since, in reality, the PDF is always downloaded prior to being viewed. 

Happily, with the help of Foxit WebPDF for SharePoint, a new product from Foxit Software, the final links in this chain are being connected.  This software allows PDFs from any source to be viewed through a browser window in SharePoint, while never actually downloading them to the user’s system.  This is a new product with great potential and so we’re working closely with Foxit in order to integrate it more deeply with the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint.  This is an ongoing process and so some features, such as watermarking on open, are not currently supported.   Despite this, documents that have already been watermarked or gone through a workflow using our actions, open just as any other PDF in SharePoint does with the viewer.

There are any number of ways that these two products can be used together to help provide a more secure, yet flexible document management environment.  To keep from loosing the big picture in the details, we’ll focus on a basic example that covers the most obvious ways that users download files.  More secure environments can certainly be created, but this should provide a good set of stepping stones to start with.  So, with the assumption that The Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint is installed and configured in the target environment, we can begin.

  1. Download and install Foxit WebPDF for SharePoint from the Foxit website.  When installing this, please follow the instructions carefully as there are a number of steps that might not be obvious.  As well, at the end of this post there are a couple of points that we encountered that may apply to your environment as well.
  2. In Central Administration / Web Application Management, disable the features from the Foxit Viewer that you don’t want users to have access to.  In our example, we just want the users to be able to view the PDF, so have disabled most of them.
     
    config1
  3. Now we go into the Library that we want to secure and configure the default view.  This will eliminate the ability to download the PDF to the client. Create a new default view for the library with the following settings:
     
    view1 checkboxv
     
  4. This will create a SharePoint view where the items in the view are simply text fields, no links, and no context menus.  As well, by removing the individual item checkboxes the ribbon menu items, such as ‘Download a Copy’, become disabled.
     

library

Once this this is done- so are you!

The only way to access the file is by clicking on the icon icon, which then opens the file in the Foxit Web Viewer without transferring the actual PDF file to the client.

 vimage

 
Remember- this is only the beginning!  By using our SharePoint Designer Workflow facility (or our Nintex Workflow activities) for example, a confidential internal announcement could be placed in a library, go through an approval workflow and, once approved, be automatically converted to PDF, then sent to this library to be viewed (and ONLY viewed) by users- all in a robust and automated fashion.

 

Installation Notes:

  1. The Foxit Viewer uses a SQL database (this can be the same one that hosts SharePoint), however at the time of writing it does NOT support Windows Authentication.  In order to use the Viewer, you will need to enable SQL authentication and configure Foxit to connect using a SQL user account.
  2. In order to enable the viewer, the ‘Enable-SPSessionStateService’ SharePoint PowerShell command needs to be executed.  This command is not available in SharePoint foundation where the following change needs to be made manually to each webapp’s web.config file:
     
    • Add  <add name=”Session” type=”System.Web.SessionState.SessionStateModule” />  to the configuration / system.webServer / modules element.
    • Set the enableSessionState attribute of the configuration / system.web / pages element to true
    • Add  <sessionState mode=”InProc” />  to the configuration / system.web element.

Any questions or feedback? Leave a comment in the section below or contact us, we love talking to our customers.

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XPS to PDF Conversion using Muhimbi’s range of Server Based PDF Converters

Posted at: 3:55 PM on 20 May 2014 by Unknown

xpsicon

A quick search online for products that convert one format to another results in a sometimes overwhelming list, with some utilities boasting of being able to convert hundreds of different formats.  Needless to say, most of these products produce less than high fidelity conversions- how can they, when they deal with so many different formats?   Our focus at Muhimbi has always been high fidelity conversions that provide professional quality results- along with a supporting environment that makes implementing conversions a truly enterprise level prospect.  This means we limit the number of formats we convert natively to important ones we can perfect and update when new versions are released, so even some fairly well known file types just don’t make the cut.

Luckily, Muhimbi’s range of PDF Conversion products has had the ability to use 3rd party converters for a long time.  This ability fills the gaps- whether for an esoteric format like HPGL, or a more prosaic one, such as XPS.  Ah, XPS, that wonderful XML based format that was going to wrestle the market away from PDF.  Unfortunately for XPS, the most common thought when someone sees it’s extension is- “How can I convert this into something useful, like a PDF”?  Well, that’s where we’ve got you covered!  Using the Muhimbi Converter and GhostXPS, you can convert XPS documents just like any other.

First thing to do (after installing the Muhimbi PDF Converter of course), is to download and install GhostXPS on you conversion server(s).

  1. Download the latest GhostXPS GPL Release from the Ghostscript website (please ensure you download the Windows Version).
  2. Install GhostXPS in a location of your choice on every server that runs the Muhimbi Conversion Service. Please make note of the location of the installation so you can point the Converter to it.

 

The next step is to modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file as described here and add the following entry to the <MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section.

<add key="XPSConverter"
     description="XPS to PDF Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="xps"
     supportedOutputFormats="pdf"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\gs\gxps-9.14-win32.exe | -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile={1} -dNOPAUSE {0} "/>

 
More details on the parameters can be found here, though you shouldn’t need to change them.

That is all there is to it. Once everything has been configured, XPS files will be picked up automatically and treated exactly the same as all other file formats supported by the Muhimbi PDF Converter.

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PCL to PDF Conversion using Muhimbi’s range of Server Based PDF Converters

Posted at: 7:10 AM on by Unknown

printerIn a previous post about Muhimbi’s ability to integrate 3rd party converters into it’s conversion process, we looked at how to use GhostXPS to convert XPS files to PDF.  Here we’ll take a look at another important, but ‘undercover’ format that Muhimbi’s range of PDF Conversion products can convert with some help from GhostPCL.

Printer Command Language (PCL) is not a commonly recognized format, but it’s used by people everyday- without them ever knowing it.  The vast majority of print jobs are sent to today’s printers via PCL as it is a compact and efficient language for this kind of data transmission.  It may not be the ‘best’ in terms of absolute quality, but for anything other than large scale professional printing, it is the de facto standard.  This means that most printers cannot accept raw PostScript jobs anymore, so PCL files are generated for automated print jobs and by applications.  The problem arises when you don’t want to print the file- how many people can double click on a .pcl file and have it open in a friendly viewer?  Once again, this is where Muhimbi’s Converter and GhostPCL come to the rescue and seamlessly convert PCL files to PDF for any user to easily access.

First thing to do (after installing the Muhimbi PDF Converter of course), is to download and install GhostPCL on you conversion server(s).

  1. Download the latest GhostPCL GPL Release from the Ghostscript website. (please ensure you download the Windows Version).
  2. Install GhostPCL in a location of your choice on every server that runs the Muhimbi Conversion Service. Please make note of the location of the installation so you can point the Converter to it.

 

The next step is to modify the ‘Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.Service.exe.config’ file as described here and add the following entry to the <MuhimbiDocumentConverters> section.

<add key="PCLConverter"
     description="PCL to PDF Converter"
     fidelity="Full"
     supportedExtensions="pcl"
     supportedOutputFormats="pdf"
     type="Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService.CommandLineConverter,
           Muhimbi.DocumentConverter.WebService, Version=1.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, 
PublicKeyTo
ken=c9db4759c9eaad12"
     parameter="C:\gs\pcl6-9.14-win32.exe | -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile={1} -dNOPAUSE {0}  "/>

 
More details on the parameters can be found here (though there should be no need to change them).

That is all there is to it. Once everything has been configured, PCL files will be picked up automatically and treated exactly the same as all other file formats supported by the Muhimbi PDF Converter.

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Programmatically Converting and Merging files attached to PDF Documents

Posted at: 1:54 PM on 17 April 2014 by Muhimbi

One of the cool things you can do when you have a comprehensive PDF Conversion and processing platform such as the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services, is that you can add relatively complex facilities  you didn’t originally envision, with relative ease.

When we originally set out we never thought of converting PDF files to PDF format, why would anyone do that? Well, it turns out there are several good reasons including Converting PDF to PDF/A (or other PDF versions), Changing PDF Viewer preferences or embed strip fonts from a PDF. Starting with version 7.2.1 we are adding another scenario to the mix, which is the ability to convert files attached to PDF Documents.

Similar to emails, a PDF document can have other files attached. Previously we simply ignored these files, but now we actively inspect PDF attachments and offer the option to convert and merge them to the main PDF. Ideal for archiving or printing purposes.

This new facility is accessible from our Web Services interface, see below, as well as SharePoint Designer and Nintex Workflows using our XML Override syntax. Conversion of PDF Attachments can globally be controlled using the Conversion Service’s configuration file by modifying the PDF.ConvertAttachments and PDF.ConvertAttachmentMode keys.
 

ConverterSpecificSettings_PDF 
The syntax is simple. Create a new instance of ConverterSpecificSettings_PDF, set its properties to the appropriate values and assign it to ConversionSettings.ConverterSpecificSettings before kicking off the conversion operation. A brief code example, that can easily be plugged into our standard sample code, can be found below.

ConverterSpecificSettings_PDF csc = new ConverterSpecificSettings_PDF();
csc.ConvertAttachments = true;
csc.ConvertAttachmentMode = PDFConvertAttachmentMode.RemoveSupported;
conversionSettings.ConverterSpecificSettings = csc;

 
The syntax for Java, Ruby and PHP is similar, but the code needs to be adapted to syntax specific to those environments.

 

The possible values for ConverterAttachmentMode are as follows:

  • RemoveAll: When a PDF file is processed, all attachments will be converted and merged to the main PDF. All attachments will be removed from the PDF, including those of attachments for which the file type is not recognised by the converter.
  • RemoveSupported: When a PDF file is processed, all attachments will be converted and merged to the main PDF, but only those attachments that are supported by the converter are removed from the PDF, all other attachments remain present in the main file.

Naturally these values are only used when ConvertertAttachments is set to True.

 

As this behaviour is part of the PDF Conversion Service’s processing pipeline, this new facility can be used in combination with all Merging, Watermarking, OCR, PDF Encryption and PDF/A post processing facilities.

 

Any questions or feedback? Leave a comment in the section below or contact us, we love talking to our customers.

 

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