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Converting Formotus mobile forms to PDF using the PDF Converter for SharePoint

Posted at: 3:42 PM on 15 February 2016 by Muhimbi

Formotus-logo-sq-tag-640One of the more popular uses of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint Online is the ability to convert InfoPath and Forms Services forms to PDF, something that is particularly topical since Microsoft announced that InfoPath 2013 has reached its end-of-life and will not be developed further.

Shortly after making the original announcement, in a particularly packed session at the 2014 SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft advised customers to switch to third party products as a replacement for InfoPath. One of the third parties Microsoft recommended is the topic of today’s post, Formotus.

 

The main take away as far as Formotus is concerned is that it is developed by some of the original members of Microsoft’s InfoPath team and that it is compatible with InfoPath making it relatively easy to migrate. As a result Muhimbi’s range of PDF Conversion products can convert forms generated with Formotus without problem. As far as our software is concerned all it sees is InfoPath forms. No need to make any changes, you can start using it immediately, something that quite a few of our customers have already started doing.

To learn more about Formotus including mobile and offline use, integration with mobile device cameras, GPS and other sensors, see the Features page on the Formotus website.

Although Formotus is compatible with InfoPath, it provides a number of facilities that are not part of the original InfoPath platform. The majority of these facilities are supported by the Muhimbi PDF Converter with a few small exceptions. A full list can be found below:

 

Supported

  • Client independent: Forms can be converted regardless of the source platform (iOS, Android, Windows, Web)
  • Dynamic view selection: Views intended for data entry are rarely suitable for printing and PDF Conversion. Muhimbi’s standard view selection facilities are fully supported:
  • Attachments: Any attachments present on the views that are being converted can automatically be converted and attached to the generated PDF. Although at the time of writing Formotus does not yet support file attachments.
  • Conversion of photos: A key reason to implement Formotus is to use it as a mobile data capture solution. It is not unusual for these scenarios to include the capturing of photos, which are converted in high resolution by our software.
  • Ink Control: Capture signatures and diagrams on a background image chosen by the form designer.
  • Annotation Control: Camera meets ink - Capture handwriting on a snapped photo or on an image inserted by the mobile user.
  • Location Control: Capture the location of the mobile device using GPS or other available methods.
  • Photo Location Control: Camera Control augmented with location and compass direction info.
  • Annotation Location Control: Annotation Control augmented with location and compass direction info.
  • Map Control: Embed a map of the current location into the form for submission.
  • Device Info Control: Capture identifying information about the mobile device such as phone number and OS.
  • Barcode Control: Read barcodes and QF codes into a form from the device's camera.
  • Form Version Control: Display the version number of the underlying InfoPath form template.
  • Device Info Control: Capture identifying information about the mobile device such as phone number and OS.
  • Copy meta-data: Similar to InfoPath, Formotus’ fields can be promoted to the SharePoint library. The Muhimbi PDF Converter can automatically copy these fields to the generated PDF file.

 

Not supported (on some platforms)

Formotus runs on all SharePoint versions including SharePoint Online, which has very clear security boundaries. As a result any functionality that relies on data that is not stored inside the InfoPath XML file cannot be accessed during conversion, including:

  • External Data connections
  • Custom Code
  • Rules
  • SharePoint List Connector Control: Update a SharePoint list from a repeating table in a form.
  • SharePoint Picture Control: Display a picture linked from a SharePoint picture library.
  • Excel Chart Control: Display a chart generated by Excel Services on SharePoint.

 
For on-premise deployments this behavior can be changed as those systems typically share the same security boundaries. For details see this Knowledge base article.

 

To summarize, as far as Muhimbi’s range of PDF Conversion products is concerned, Formotus is a drop-in replacement for InfoPath with some cool additional features. Getting started is easy, install the Muhimbi PDF Converter App from the SharePoint App Store (and optional workflow actions), create a free Formotus account and install a client on your Mobile Device (iOS, Android, Windows).

Once you are able to post forms to SharePoint Online you can add a basic workflow to automatically convert a form to PDF, watermark and secure it. For details see this brief video tutorial.

 

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

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Add watermarks when files are opened or downloaded in SharePoint Online / Office 365

Posted at: 5:45 PM on 17 December 2015 by Muhimbi

confidentialOne of the more popular features of the on-premise version of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint is the ability to add watermarks – including meta-data, ip-address, date/time information and user information – the moment a file is downloaded or opened. The file as it is sits in SharePoint remains untouched, but the file that is downloaded to the user includes the watermarks. At the same time the PDF file can be secured and encrypted to make sure the watermarks cannot be touched. For details about how this works for the on-premise version – largely identical to the online product – see this blog post.

Brilliant feature, quite often used for security / DRM-light purposes, but up until now only available for SharePoint on-premise as providing this functionality in SharePoint Online – which is a very restricted platform – has proven to be….well…..tricky.

Well, that ends today as we are happy to announce a preview version of this functionality for the PDF Converter for SharePoint Online. Read on for details about how it works and how to enable it.

 

How it works

Before we go into further detail, let’s agree on a short name for this Feature as ‘Real Time Watermarking & Security when a file is accessed’ doesn’t roll off the tongue. Internally our team calls it ‘OnOpen’ as in something happens when a file is opened. So OnOpen it is, at least for the remainder of this post.

Once OnOpen is enabled (see the end of this post for details), whenever a PDF file is downloaded our software automatically adds any configured watermarks and security settings while the file is being sent to the user. It is up to the Site Administrators and List Owners to define these settings.

When OnOpen is first enabled on a site collection the settings are restricted by default. Site Collection Administrators will need to navigate to Site Settings / PDF Watermarking Settings (and/or PDF Security Settings) to specify the default settings and optionally specify if List Owners can override these settings.

WM-OnOpen-SiteSettings 
PDF Watermarking settings screen as opened from Site Settings.

 
Please note that by simply specifying this information at the Site Settings level, watermarks are NOT automatically enabled in the Site Collection’s Lists and Libraries. Although the default settings can be inherited from the Site Settings, it must be enabled on each Library or List manually and individually.

If there is no need to centrally control the content of the watermark and security settings then make sure the Allow overriding option is enabled. This makes it possible for the details to be specified manually on each list or library.

To either manually specify the settings at the List or Library level, or activate the centrally specified settings, navigate to the relevant list or library, and from the List / Library ribbon tab select Library Settings / List Settings. This screen contains two new entries,  PDF Watermarking Settings and PDF Security Settings, clicking the former shows the following screen.
 

WM-OnOpen-LibSettings 
PDF Watermarking settings screen as opened from Library Settings

 

This screen provides the option to inherit the centrally specified settings, or – if permitted – manually specify settings and an optional filter.

By default watermarks are applied for every PDF file that is opened, but by specifying a filter it is possible to narrow it down based on a file’s meta-data, which can be very powerful. E.g. apply a ‘DRAFT’ watermark when the document status is set as such and skip the watermark if the status is ‘Final’.

Although adding static watermarks that don’t change over time can be very useful, the same can be achieved using our workflow facilities that only apply the watermark once rather than every time the document is opened. The real power of the OnOpen facility comes from the ability to insert Meta-Data or Macros in a watermark. This allows such scenarios as:

  • Apply a watermark showing when the document was opened from SharePoint.
       Opened on '{LONG_DATE} / {LONG_TIME}' 
     
  • Include the name, login id and ip-number of the user who downloaded the document, a great security feature if a document shows up in a place it is not supposed to show up.
      Opened by '{LOGON_USER}' ({USER_NAME}) on '{LONG_DATE} / {LONG_TIME}' from IP '{REMOTE_ADDR}'
     
  • Include the Title, file name and last modified date in a document.
      Title: {Title}, File: {FileLeafRef}, Modified: {Modified}
     
  • Add hidden watermarks to a document. E.g. fully transparent text that is invisible to the user, but can be extracted at a later date in case a document is leaked or shared with an unauthorised party.
     
  • A mix of any of the above or any of the other meta-data fields and macros. A full list of Field codes and Macros can be found in this Knowledge Base article.

 

Finally, it is not just about watermarking as anyone with basic ‘Google search’ skills can download a simple PDF editor. To prevent users from modifying watermarks, and add additional layers of security by locking down printing and content copying, a Secure OnOpen facility is available as well.
 

Secure-OnOpen-ListSettingsApply Security when a file is opened


The concept is the same. Defaults can be specified at the Site Collection level, individual settings can then be enabled at the List or Library levels. Separate filters can be specified if needed. The available security settings are as follows:

  • Open Password: The user accessing the PDF file must know a specific password to open it.
  • Owner password: No password is needed to view the content, but all content is encrypted and any specified security options are locked down.
  • Security Options: Specify which option to lock down. The most popular ones are ‘Disable Printing’ and ‘Disable Content Copying’.

 

What happens when a document cannot be processed?

Although this facility is built upon an established and resilient platform, there are situations where a document cannot be processed. For example if the PDF is corrupt, already encrypted or the subscription has run out of monthly operations. It is important to decide up-front what to do in cases like this.

WM-Realtime-Settings

How the system deals with problematic situations can be configured using the PDF real-time settings link under Site Settings. The options are as follows:

  1. Show the original, unprocessed, document: For situations where watermarking or PDF security is a nice-to-have, but no show-stopper, you may want to choose this option, which will return the original document as if the OnOpen facility is not active at all.
  2. Block access to the original document: This option, which is the default, blocks access to the document if it cannot be processed. This is generally used in situations where the document MUST be processed before it is sent out, no exceptions.

 

 
How to enable

So, all in all a pretty cool feature, however it must be enabled by a Site Collection Administrator before it can be used. For details about how to do this see this Knowledge Base Article. Don’t forget to enable the Automatic PDF Processing App Feature after elevating the privileges, both steps are described in detail in the article.

 

Any questions or feedback? Have a look at the FAQ, leave a comment below or contact our friendly support desk.

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PDF Converter Services 8.0 - New InfoPath Converter & QR Code Watermarks

Posted at: 4:45 PM on 09 December 2015 by Muhimbi

PDFConverterServicesBox4_thumb3

We are happy to announce the new 8.0 release of the Muhimbi PDF Converter Services (New releases for the PDF Converter for SharePoint and PDF Converter for SharePoint Online are available as well) 

The number of new features and changes are considerable and include a completely overhauled InfoPath converter, a new setup experience, Support for SharePoint Online / Office 365 and much much more. 

The following blog posts provide more detail:

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.

  Before--After_thumb3New InfoPath converter on the right (old on the left), no more rendering inconsistencies.


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

1715 Excel New Strip DIPs from Excel files to reduce problem during conversion.
2519 HTML Fix Hang when converting HTML to PDF.
2376 InfoPath Fix Non-negative number required when converting InfoPath forms on some systems.
1207 InfoPath Improvement Improve quality of Images embedded in InfoPath forms.
1829 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath conversions have grey border.
1495 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Conversion – Externally referenced images don't always finish loading.
668 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Conversion - Character spacing is inconsistent.
2349 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Temp file names need to be made more unique.
2499 Merging Fix Pages are repeated when merging certain documents.
2350 Merging Fix PDF Attachment not recognised in some cases.
2332 Merging Fix Error generating TOC for PDF file that has internal attachments.
1824 Merging New Feature Request - Force new documents to start on odd pages during a merge.
1950 MSG Fix MSG - Some formatting is incorrect when HTML email contains inline images.
1951 MSG Fix MSG - Converter does not handle RTF containing binary data.
2504 MSG Fix MSG - Compressed-RTF data size mismatch.
2372 MSG Fix MSG - Email text alignment has changed between product released
2333 MSG Fix MSG - System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException: Index and count must refer to a location within the string.
2195 MSG Fix EML - Email converted with 7.2 does not look as good as in 7.0.
1962 MSG Improvement MSG - Conversion of Office shapes.
1949 MSG Improvement EML - Improve handling of RTF content in EML messages.
2539 MSG Improvement MSG - Incorrect Sent Date in some edge cases.
2358 MSG Improvement MSG - Display text when sent date is empty.
2271 MSG Improvement MSG – Bookmark names of converted email / attachments don’t match Outlook.
2537 OCR Fix PDF Syntax errors after carrying out OCR on some documents.
2498 OCR Fix OCR using German Locale - Input string not in a correct format.
2373 OCR Fix Some files are not OCRed at all.
2346 OCR Fix OCR Not carried out properly on certain complex files.
2180 OCR Fix OCR text action throws exception 'There were no results returned.'
2020 OCR Improvement JPEG2000 encoded PDFs not supported by OCR.
2181 OCR Improvement OCR Text activity - return meaningful error message if license validation fails.
2360 Other Fix System.InvalidOperationException: Collection was modified; enumeration operation may not execute.
2316 Other Fix Deadlock while saving watermarked files in parallel.
2317 Other Fix Collection was modified; enumeration operation may not execute in Save method under load.
2318 Other Fix Object reference not set to an instance of an object. FontDictionaryBeginSave in Save method under load
2319 Other Fix System.Collections.Generic.KeyNotFoundException: The given key was not present in the dictionary. in PdfTrueTypeFont.CreateFontInternal method under load.
2320 Other Fix Object reference not set to an instance of an object in PdfCacheCollection. GetGroup under load
2298 Other Fix PdfUriAnnotation disappears.
2033 Other New Carry out default printer check during each conversion.
1380 Postscript New Add support for converting .PS & .EPS files
1813 Setup Improvement Service installer does not run on systems with only .net 4.5 installed.
2134 Setup Improvement Deployment issues on certain Win2K12R2 systems.
2040 Setup New Detect Machine Name of Conversion Server and automatically change config file.
2028 Setup New Carry out Office Activation Check.
2029 Setup New Check for Office User Profiles for Conversion Service Account.
2031 Setup New Add .Net v3.5 Runtime Availability Check.
2035 Setup New Automatically deploy license file during installation.
2036 Setup New Carry out Firewall Check and open appropriate port.
2021 Setup New Check user privileges during installation.
2024 Setup New Carry out Office version check during installation.
2104 Setup New Digitally sign installer
2157 Watermarking Fix Ellipse watermark action - incorrect PageOrientation value.
2301 Watermarking New Add support for QR Code watermarking.

 

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 (50MB). .

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PDF Converter for SharePoint 8.0 - New InfoPath Converter, Workflow Manager, QR Code

Posted at: 10:24 AM on 28 October 2015 by Muhimbi

PDFBox5

Today is a big milestone for Muhimbi, it is the day that we are releasing version 8.0 of the PDF Converter for SharePoint, the biggest release in our 8 year history.

The number of new features and changes is almost too large to list, but highlights include a completely overhauled InfoPath converter, a new setup experience, support for the new workflow engine introduced in SharePoint 2013, Support for SharePoint Online / Office 365 and much much more. 

The following blog posts provide more detail:

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


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, 2010, 2013 & SharePoint Online and is available in English, German, Dutch, French, Traditional Chinese and Japanese. For detailed information check out the product page.

  Before & AfterNew InfoPath converter on the right (old on the left), no more rendering inconsistencies.


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

1715 Excel New Strip DIPs from Excel files to reduce problem during conversion.
2519 HTML Fix Hang when converting HTML to PDF.
2376 InfoPath Fix Non-negative number required when converting InfoPath forms on some systems.
1207 InfoPath Improvement Improve quality of Images embedded in InfoPath forms.
1829 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath conversions have grey border.
1495 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Conversion – Externally referenced images don't always finish loading.
668 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Conversion - Character spacing is inconsistent.
2349 InfoPath Improvement InfoPath Temp file names need to be made more unique.
2291 K2 Fix K2 - Bugs in Merging SmartObject Method.
2361 K2 New K2 - Add support for the new QR code watermark activity.
2286 K2 New K2 - SharePoint Converter: Extract OCR text raises exception Error Marshalling.
2499 Merging Fix Pages are repeated when merging certain documents.
2350 Merging Fix PDF Attachment not recognised in some cases.
2332 Merging Fix Error generating TOC for PDF file that has internal attachments.
1824 Merging New Feature Request - Force new documents to start on odd pages during a merge.
2194 Meta-data New Add ability to copy 'Modified' and 'Created' meta-data.
1950 MSG Fix MSG - Some formatting is incorrect when HTML email contains inline images.
1951 MSG Fix MSG - Converter does not handle RTF containing binary data.
2504 MSG Fix MSG - Compressed-RTF data size mismatch.
2372 MSG Fix MSG - Email text alignment has changed between product released
2333 MSG Fix MSG - System.ArgumentOutOfRangeException: Index and count must refer to a location within the string.
2195 MSG Fix EML - Email converted with 7.2 does not look as good as in 7.0.
1962 MSG Improvement MSG - Conversion of Office shapes.
1949 MSG Improvement EML - Improve handling of RTF content in EML messages.
2539 MSG Improvement MSG - Incorrect Sent Date in some edge cases.
2358 MSG Improvement MSG - Display text when sent date is empty.
2271 MSG Improvement MSG – Bookmark names of converted email / attachments don’t match Outlook.
2571 Nintex Fix Nintex workflow merging problem with files contain apostrophe in name.
2537 OCR Fix PDF Syntax errors after carrying out OCR on some documents.
2498 OCR Fix OCR using German Locale - Input string not in a correct format.
2373 OCR Fix Some files are not OCRed at all.
2346 OCR Fix OCR Not carried out properly on certain complex files.
2180 OCR Fix OCR text action throws exception 'There were no results returned.'
2020 OCR Improvement JPEG2000 encoded PDFs not supported by OCR.
2181 OCR Improvement OCR Text activity - return meaningful error message if license validation fails.
2360 Other Fix System.InvalidOperationException: Collection was modified; enumeration operation may not execute.
2316 Other Fix Deadlock while saving watermarked files in parallel.
2317 Other Fix Collection was modified; enumeration operation may not execute in Save method under load.
2318 Other Fix Object reference not set to an instance of an object. FontDictionaryBeginSave in Save method under load
2319 Other Fix System.Collections.Generic.KeyNotFoundException: The given key was not present in the dictionary. in PdfTrueTypeFont.CreateFontInternal method under load.
2320 Other Fix Object reference not set to an instance of an object in PdfCacheCollection. GetGroup under load
2298 Other Fix PdfUriAnnotation disappears.
2235 Other Fix '+' character is allowed in SharePoint file names, but not in the PDF Converter.
2033 Other New Carry out default printer check during each conversion.
1380 Postscript New Add support for converting .PS & .EPS files
1813 Setup Improvement Service installer does not run on systems with only .net 4.5 installed.
2134 Setup Improvement Deployment issues on certain Win2K12R2 systems.
2040 Setup New Detect Machine Name of Conversion Server and automatically change config file.
2028 Setup New Carry out Office Activation Check.
2029 Setup New Check for Office User Profiles for Conversion Service Account.
2031 Setup New Add .Net v3.5 Runtime Availability Check.
2034 Setup New Deploy SharePoint Solution as part of main installer.
2035 Setup New Automatically deploy license file during installation.
2036 Setup New Carry out Firewall Check and open appropriate port.
2037 Setup New Launch Central Administration Muhimbi Settings Url on Installation.
2021 Setup New Check user privileges during installation.
2023 Setup New Carry out privilege check for SharePoint deployment access during installation.
2024 Setup New Carry out Office version check during installation.
2104 Setup New Digitally sign installer
2157 Watermarking Fix Ellipse watermark action - incorrect PageOrientation value.
1491 Watermarking Improvement Display and validate filter data in the automatic watermarking screens based on data type and regional settings.
1452 Watermarking New Add watermark field codes for user information e.g. email address (USER_EMAIL).
2301 Watermarking New Add support for QR Code watermarking.
1948 Workflow New Add support for the SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager.


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 (61MB). .

.

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Using the SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager to Convert documents to PDF

Posted at: 1:06 PM on 07 September 2015 by Muhimbi

Workflow Manager LogoIt is no secret that the real power of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint comes from the ability to automate processes using workflows, it takes the human error factor out of the equation. Automatically convert, watermark and secure a file and write it to the Record Center when it changes? No problem, all fully automatic, nice, easy, repeatable, just what you need.

When the product was originally released customers were quick to request workflow support. First for SharePoint Designer Workflows, then Nintex Workflow followed by Visual Studio Workflows, K2 workflows and even in SharePoint Online. We were pretty pleased with ourselves, we support the whole lot across all SharePoint versions, well done to us…..

Then Microsoft introduced SharePoint 2013, which – in addition to the legacy workflow engine that we already support – comes with the optional Workflow Manager. You know… because things were just not complicated enough. This Workflow Manager only works on some SharePoint editions (not on SharePoint Foundation), must be deployed manually and uses a completely different architecture, who is going to use that? Well, it turns out that some people actually use it and – as we hate to say ‘no’ to our customers – we went back to the drawing board and hammered out support for Workflow Manager Workflows. 
 

 
So, how does this work? Well pretty much the way you expect it to. When deploying the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint on SharePoint 2013, Central Admin’s Farm Solutions screen will show that a new Solution named ‘muhimbi.pdfconverter.workflow
manager.sp2013.wsp
’ has been deployed automatically. On systems that do not have the Workflow Manager installed this Solution is ignored, but those lucky enough to be running the Workflow Manager will see a range of new Workflow Activities in SharePoint Designer when selecting ‘SharePoint 2013 workflow’ as the Platform Type when creating a new workflow.
 

Create New Workflow

 

Workflows using the SharePoint 2013 Workflow Platform Type now show the same range of PDF related workflow actions that are present for workflows using the SharePoint 2010 Workflow type. The only difference is that the legacy Convert to PDF workflow action is no longer present as this has been replaced by the more flexible Convert Document action.

Workflow Actions

 

Building a workflow is a matter of selecting the appropriate action and filling in the blanks. All actions are self-describing and do pretty much what you expect them to do. Links to the documentation for the SharePoint 2010 equivalents can be found below:

 
It is possible to ‘chain’ multiple operations together by capturing the List Item ID of the output of one operation and use that to lookup an item, by its ID, in a follow up action. This way you can convert a document to PDF and then watermark or secure the generated PDF, all in a single workflow.

Multiple ActionsLookup Item

 

Most workflow actions require input or output files to be specified. For details about specifying file names and paths see this Knowledge Base Article.

SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager workflows allow more complex scenarios than SharePoint 2010 workflows. For example it is possible to iterate over multiple files and convert them to individual PDFs, or build a list of file paths to feed into our Merge Documents into PDF action.

 

Pretty cool stuff. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact our friendly support desk, we love to help.

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How to add QR Codes to SharePoint documents using the Muhimbi PDF Converter

Posted at: 4:25 PM on 26 August 2015 by Muhimbi

Who Rocks?
Anyone who has ever looked at product packaging is familiar with basic barcodes, those black and white vertical stripes that have made such a positive impact on cash registers. (I am old enough to remember pre-barcode days, oh the horror). Although first introduced in in 1997, QR Codes - a variation on the traditional barcode - have become really popular in the last few years as they allow much more data to be stored, with a very high level of error correction.

A popular use for QR codes is to embed them in documents. They can store all kind of information (almost 3KB at the time of writing) including meta-data such as a Document ID, last update time, author, anything really. However, to create these codes and add them to your documents, that is tricky, especially in SharePoint, what to do….. what to do!

Here is what to do, download the latest version of the Muhimbi PDF Converter for SharePoint or Muhimbi PDF Converter Services and use a workflow (SharePoint Designer, Nintex, K2, Visual Studio), the SharePoint User interface or our API to add QR codes to documents. It just works!

 

Have a look at the examples below. The various facilities are largely self-describing so there is no need to go into too much detail. For more information and examples related to watermarking in general, see the Watermarking hub in our Knowledge Base.

 

Regardless of the method used to apply the QR watermark, you always need to specify the following information:

  • Content: The content to embed in the QR code. This will need to match the specified input mode.
  • Version: Over the years many different QR versions have been introduced. Select the one appropriate to your needs, either Auto or Version01 – Version40.
  • Input mode: Specify the appropriate mode for your content:
    - Binary: Any value including text, URLs etc.
    - AlphaNumeric: Numbers, (Upper case) characters and SPACE, $, %, *, +, -, ., /, :
    - Numeric: Numbers only
  • Error correction level: Select the appropriate level for your needs: Low, Medium, Quartile, High

 

SharePoint Designer workflows

Adding a QR Code using a SharePoint Designer workflow is similar to adding any of our other watermarking workflow actions.

QR Code in SharePoint Designer

 

Nintex Workflow

When using Nintex Workflow there is only a single Watermark PDF workflow action. In the action’s configuration screen select QR Code as the Watermark Type and fill in the blanks. For details about adding watermarks using Nintex Workflow see this blog post.

Nintex QR Code

 

Muhimbi’s real-time watermarking facilities

The PDF Converter for SharePoint comes with this cool facility to add a watermark the moment a PDF is opened. If the information embedded in the QR Code is user-specific or time sensitive (e.g. the name of the user who opened the PDF, or the current date / time) then you may want to consider using this facility instead of a workflow. QR codes can be added using our XML based watermarking syntax.

QR Code Watermark on-open

 

K2 Workflows

Adding a QR code using K2 blackpearl is easy as well. For details about how to integrate the Muhimbi PDF Converter with K2, as well as some examples, see this article.

K2 QR Code

 

Muhimbi’s Web Services based API

QR codes can also be added using our flexible web services based API, regardless of platform (C#, Java, PHP, Ruby etc). The associated class and enumerations can be found below. For an example of how to create watermarks from code see this blog post.

Web Service API QR

 

Any questions or comments? Leave an update below or contact our friendly support desk, we love to talk to our customers!

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Using the Muhimbi PDF Converter to generate FDA / eCTD valid documents

Posted at: 11:53 AM on 27 July 2015 by Muhimbi

FDAOur popular PDF Converter for SharePoint and PDF Converter Services (for Java, C#, PHP, Ruby), as well as the PDF Converter for SharePoint Online / Office 365 is used in almost any imaginable industry. Local and federal government, financial industry, retail, engineering, space exploration etc. Some of these industries have pretty strict requirements when it comes to submitting or archiving documents.

One of the industries that specify such requirements is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In their specifications for Providing Regulatory Submissions in Electronic Format — Certain Human Pharmaceutical Product Applications and Related Submissions Using the eCTD Specifications they list the following requirements. 

  • PDF versions 1.4 through 1.7, PDF/A-1 and PDF/A-2: We support all these versions, and more, and can even convert existing PDF files to PDF 1.1 – 1.7 as well as PDF/A1b & A2b for long term archiving.
  • Do not activate security settings or password protection: Although we support a range of PDF Security, Restriction and encryption facilities. The FDA’s recommendation is to not apply any security to the generated documents.
  • Fully embed all non-standard fonts:  Embedding or stripping of embedded fonts is fully supported by our software. Even better, just use PDF/A output which automatically takes care of most requirements.
  • Avoid image-based PDF files whenever possible: Image based content can be hard to read on screen and – even worse – is not searchable. As a result people cannot copy its contents or find it using whatever search engine they happen to use. When dealing with image based content such as scans and faxes, use our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) abilities to automatically recognise all text and include it in the PDF file.
  • Optimize the PDF for fast web view: Many PDF files are accessed via the internet. To prevent long downloads, PDF files can be Linearized / Optimised for fast web view. This reduces the loading time of the initial pages considerably.
  • Table of contents (TOC): The ability to merge multiple files is probably the second most used feature provided by our software. However, the result of a merge operation may result in a document that is hundreds of pages long, which can make navigation a bit difficult. Our software automatically adds PDF bookmarks to ease navigation, but even better can automatically generate a full featured Table Of Contents.
  • Initial View Settings: Making sure that the PDF is displayed in the most optimal manner when the document is opened removes the effort from the end user and reduces the need for training. Naturally we fully support this
  • Page Numbering: Especially in large documents, page numbering is extremely important. Most documents already contain page numbers, but when merging multiple documents together these page numbers do not reflect the reality. Use our extensive watermarking facilities to automatically calculate and display page numbers

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact our friendly support desk, we love to talk to our customers.

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Introducing the new High-Fidelity InfoPath converter

Posted at: 6:21 PM on 16 July 2015 by Muhimbi

infopath_L1We like to throw in a wildcard every once in a while, functionality that no-one has asked for, but we think our customers will really like. This tends to work out very well, for example the time we decided to provide a lot of flexibility around copying of SharePoint meta-data. Another one of those crazy wild-cards was support for the conversion of InfoPath forms to PDF, XLS, HTML and DOC. InfoPath is pretty obscure, right? Microsoft has even retired it, who needs a converter, who even cares? EVERYONE! A surprising number of people want to convert and archive InfoPath files, and for great reasons as well.

Over the years we have added many popular facilities to the InfoPath converter including the ability to convert InfoPath attachments and the ability to dynamically control which InfoPath view to use for PDF conversion. There was only one problem though, as Microsoft stopped caring about InfoPath, they slowly but surely crippled its PDF output abilities. It all started with the introduction of Internet Explorer 9 and was made worse with the introduction of Windows Server 2012 and InfoPath 2013. Out of the box, and completely unrelated to our software, InfoPath doesn’t even include content of checkboxes in a PDF, and that is just one of the smaller problems.

Our support desk is always happy to assist those customers who, for reasons beyond their control, cannot downgrade Internet Explorer or switch Windows versions. More often than not this resulted in solutions that worked well enough, but…. ughhh… horrible hacks, loads of support hours wasted, non-intuitive solutions, this has to stop…. and, as of today, it has!

 

Version 8.0 of the PDF Converter for SharePoint, PDF Converter Services (for Java, C#, PHP, Ruby) as well as our PDF Converter for SharePoint Online comes with a brand new InfoPath converter. It still supports all the cool features of the previous converter, but the generated PDF files look much, MUCH, better, they basically look identical to what comes out of the printer.

The key improvements are:

  • ‘Printer like’ output.
  • Images & logos are displayed in high resolution.
  • Border colors and thickness are correct.
  • ‘Phantom’ grey borders are a thing of the past.
  • Page size can be controlled in detail.
  • Page orientation can be controlled in detail.

The last 2 options are particular important for forms that have been designed with SharePoint’s Forms Services in mind. Although those forms are created in InfoPath as well, and can be converted using our software just fine, these forms typically don’t specify a page size or orientation. The new PDF Converter automatically picks up these settings when they ARE defined in the form, but when the information is missing it will try to substitute it. These settings can be overridden globally or at the individual conversion level.

 

Before & AfterBefore (left) and after (right). Click to zoom in and look at those horrible borders and image quality in detail.

 

Although the default values suffice for most situations, the following entries can be controlled via the conversion service’s configuration file. For details about how to edit this file see this article..

  • InfoPathConverterFullFidelity.UseNativePrintEngine: This setting controls which InfoPath converter is used, the legacy one (false) or the new high-fidelity one (true). This setting is automatically populated with the option selected during installation.
  • InfoPathConverterFullFidelity.DefaultPaperSize: The output paper size to use for InfoPath views without a specified printer / paper size. This does not change the paper size for views where that information IS specified. Leave this setting empty to take the value from the default printer or specify a named format such as 'A4' or 'Letter' (Full list of accepted paper sizes). PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS VALUE IS CASE SENSITIVE.
  • InfoPathConverterFullFidelity.ForcePaperSize: Force the paper size, regardless of the printer / paper size being present in the definition of the InfoPath view.
  • InfoPathConverterFullFidelity.DefaultPageOrientation: The Page orientation for InfoPath views that don't explicitly specify a printer / paper size. Either 'Portrait' or 'Landscape'. Leave empty to let InfoPath decide.
  • InfoPathConverterFullFidelity.ForcePageOrientation: Force the page orientation regardless of the printer / paper size being present in the definition of the InfoPath view

 

The easiest way to enable the new InfoPath converter is to do so during the setup process, for details see this blog post.

In order to use the new InfoPath converter on 64 bit systems, please install the 64 bit version of Office / InfoPath. 32 bit Windows versions work fine with the 32 bit version of Office / InfoPath.

If you are still on Windows Server 2003 then we don’t judge you, but you will need to contact our support desk to request assistance with the deployment of the new InfoPath converter as after 12 years… well… things have moved on a bit.

 

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

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