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FormDOCS Eases Electronic Forms Management

Frank J. Ohlhorst

The CRN Test Center evaluated FormDOCS for Windows version 6, a product from Enterprise Technology that provides a plethora of forms management and development tools.

FormDOCS is currently available in four different SKUs. Basic Edition costs $79.95; a single-user Premium Edition is $149; a three-user Office Edition, which was evaluated by the Test Center, is $199; and a 100-user Web Edition costs $999.99.

Solution providers can create networkable digital forms to route or store with FormDOCS, which delivers a complete forms-development environment.

The product includes a forms-design tool, a built-in spell-checker, automatic serial numbers, drop-down lists, ODBC, scripting, e-mail support and definable calculations. The Office version also includes PDF conversion support.

Solution providers will find the product quite easy to use. The interface is straightforward, and the design elements can be created quickly and easily by selecting an item,a line, box or data field, for example,and dragging it to a form.

Basic calculations are wizard-driven. Designers can select fields quickly and apply calculations, including all basic math functions and a variety of totaling functions.

In addition, forms can be created by importing and converting existing electronic documents, a feature that speeds up the process of moving forms from applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel into a manageable forms environment. Businesses that have suffered from misfiled or lost forms created in typical office applications will appreciate that capability.

Solution providers can scan in existing paper forms, a process that CRN Test Center engineers found easy to master. When it comes to defining data fields and calculations, however, that feature will require a bit of fine-tuning.

A key feature for solution providers is the integrated ODBC support, which will allow them to leverage existing databases such as customer or parts lists in designed forms. Many business applications can provide data via ODBC, so this capability will enable solution providers to create fully integrated custom forms for verticals such as the legal, insurance and medical industries.

One advantage that electronic forms offer is the elimination of overhead costs associated with paper forms. FormDOCS offers an electronic filing system that emulates a digital filing cabinet. All completed forms can be stored and organized for later reference, an important capability for organizations seeking ISO certifications.

FormDOCS also works with popular faxing and e-mail applications. Users can fax a completed form directly from their desktop using a third-party faxing package or quickly convert the form to a PDF for e-mailing. Both of those options eliminate the need for printing altogether.

One problem with forms is they often become too complex to be supported by simple calculations.

Enterprise Technology addressed that issue in FormDOCS by including the Forms Automation Basic (FAB) scripting language, which provides advanced capabilities to designers who want to integrate complex logic and calculations into forms. FAB allows designers to integrate Boolean logic into forms, supporting "what if" scenarios to drive calculations or restrict values.

That means complex spreadsheets can be brought into a forms-based environment. Designers can test form data for complex conditions and then initialize other values, restrict access to fields or share data with other applications.

Given that FormDOCS integrates networking capabilities from the get-go, the product scales well to growing environments. Solution providers can start small with a few forms for a few users and then quickly scale up the product to more forms and users as the value of electronic forms is demonstrated.

All things considered, the FormDOCS products offer interesting solutions and viable revenue streams for solution providers looking to move their clients to an integrated electronic-form solution from a paper-based system.

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