iForms Electronic Forms Comparison Checklist

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All businesses need to generate standard daily business forms and documents for output. Many of them are still using pre-printed forms and have not yet made the move to generate their documents with electronic overlays for printing, sending via email, or archiving. Others are using old, outdated, or unsupported form technologies that need a refresh. 

Still using pre-printed forms? Looking for a replacement for AFP or other outdated or unsupported solutions? Then let this checklist help you distinguish between iForms and other electronic form creation products. 

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Types of Forms iForms Others
Single page spooled file or text file documents where data is the same on each page
Flowing documents that may contain header, footer, detail, or comments and may dynamically overflow to new pages based on variable data
Letter documents driven by dynamic data fields being filled within a template
Mailing labels
Reports documents (i.e., to build flowing columnar reports)
Documents with terms and conditions are printed on the back of each page.
Documents that contain multiple business units, departments, or locations where logos and verbiage can be changed on the fly during document generation (eliminating the need for multiple templates for multiple business units)
 

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Common Business Documents iForms Others
Customer invoice
Customer sales orders
Order confirmations
Customer statements
Vendor letters
Customer letters
Purchase orders
AP checks
Shipping documents
VICS bills of lading
Bills of lading
Certificates of Authenticity (C of A)
Employee documents (W4, I9, etc.)
Employee letters
Payroll checks
Pick lists
Shop order
Manufacturing order
Shop floor traveler
Job ticket
Audit reports
Shipping labels
Mailing labels
Part catalogs with images
Price books
Any type of report, form-based document, letter, or label
 

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Document Input Data Sources iForms Others
IBM i text based spooled file reports—*SCS
ASCII text files
XML data files
Databases—DB2, SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Postgres, CSV, etc.
Blended data from IBM i spooled files, ASCII text files, and a database table. This provides maximum flexibility when a report may not already contain all the data it needs. Ex: Text report document contains customer number but not the name and delivery information.
 

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Document Output Locations iForms Others
PC printer—print to any Windows print driver or printer
Spooled—render and re-spooled print data to an IBM i output queue as an *USERASCII spooled file in selected print driver format
Email—email the generated document
Local—output the generated document to a local iForms server directory
IFS—output the generated document to an IBM i IFS folder
 

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Document Page Layout and Formatting iForms Others
Portrait or landscape
Paper size
Page margins
Simplex or duplex forms
Fonts—any true type font, normal, bold, italic, underline, colors
Line spacing
 

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Process Monitors iForms Others
Output queue monitor—monitor an IBM i output queue for spooled file processing
Data queue—monitor an IBM i data queue for spooled file processing
Directory monitor—monitor a directory on the iForms server
IFS directory monitor—monitor a directory on the iForms server
 

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Available APIs iForms Others
Native IBM i command called IFMEXEC to generate a document from an IBM i program or process
Native IBM i command called IFMASM to merge multiple PDF documents into a single document packet
REST API is a URL-based API that can be utilized to automatically merge or assemble documents from any application that can call a URL including RPG, Java, .Net, PHP, Ruby, and HelpSystems Automate software
 

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Form Design iForms Others
Build document designs using the interactive iForms Designer
Build text layer designs for text file extraction using the iForms Text Layer Designer
Generate a simple graphical overlay from any Word, PDF, or image-based document—even re-purpose an older AFP or other form vendor product overlay without the work of re-designing the form
 

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Form Design Elements iForms Others
Static text fields
Dynamic text fields—driven by scripting, database, text or spooled file information
Horizontal and vertical lines
Rectangles and boxes
Circles and ellipses
Barcodes—1D barcodes, OneCode postal barcode, PDF417, QRCode
Images—JPG, BMP, or GIF
Graphs and charts
 

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Form Scripting/Logic iForms Others
Java scripting within a form template to add custom form logic
Swap images on the fly based on data fields in database or report
Swap barcodes on the fly based on data field in database or report
Include or build image file locations from text reports or database fields
Forms can contain parameters for maximum data selection flexibility
 

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Server Platforms iForms Others
IBM i
Windows—Physical hardware or virtual machine (VM)
Both IBM i and Windows
 

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Seeing iForms in action will help you determine how automating your form generation processes and eliminating pre-printed forms will help your organization thrive.