6 Replies Latest reply on Oct 4, 2016 4:33 AM by miler24

    Automated processes from document information

    adrob13

      Hello FileMaker community!

       

      Okay first off, please go easy on me, I'm new at this!

       

      My company currently uses FileMaker to track purchase orders that we process. We are a brokerage and need to track PO totals to determine our commissions. Our current app is pretty bland-- basically a glorified spreadsheet -- and all PO info is entered manually.

       

      I'm in the process of making a new app and now my boss tells me that he wants everything to be automated. Basically, he wants to be able to put the PDF purchase orders (they come either through email or through fax) into a container field in FileMaker and then have the app extract the data, either through OCR text recognition or metadata,  and put the item totals information into a field on the item page. I know there's software out there that can automate processes based on text recognition, but this still seems pretty advanced to me. Is this possible to do on FileMaker maybe via a plugin? If it is possible, can someone with limited coding knowledge do it?

       

      Thanks for any help!

        • 1. Re: Automated processes from document information
          coherentkris

          Limited coding/fm knowledge?

          No

          Especially because when your dealing with purchase orders ( or anything with $$) mistakes can really cost the business.

          Ask your boss if he would be willing to let a first year automotive tech ed student rip apart the engine of his bmr/lexus/whatever then get behind the wheel.

          • 2. Re: Automated processes from document information
            adrob13

            Okay, so then someone with advanced knowledge could do this?

            • 3. Re: Automated processes from document information
              philmodjunk

              There are plug ins designed to facilitate extracting data from PDF's. You can websearch on the terms Filemaker Plug in PDF and find more than one such offering.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 5. Re: Automated processes from document information
                scottworld

                If you're a beginner at FileMaker, then you won't be able to do everything that you listed ("extract the data, either through OCR text recognition or metadata,  and put the item totals information into a field on the item page."). However, why don't you just forget about all of that, and do it the easy & simple way which is built into FileMaker and would take you less than 10 minutes to setup? You can simply drag-and-drop PDFs into container fields in FileMaker, which can then permanently embed the file into your database (so you can throw away the original PDF file), and you can interactively scroll through the PDF file in FileMaker or download it or print it or whatever you'd like. The entire PDF file will always be sitting right there within FileMaker for you to interact with. After that, just add a few necessary fields (company name, total dollar amount, PO date, etc.), and manually retype in just those very few pieces of information that you would really need to have in a database program.

                • 6. Re: Automated processes from document information
                  miler24

                  Where there's a will, there's a way.  I don't know a single FileMaker developer who didn't start out green on a challenging project such as this.  If your boss is giving you an opportunity, and you're willing to put in some extra personal time to teach yourself some coding, then tackle this, with vigor.

                   

                  Here's what you need:

                  • Automatically receiving faxes / email attachments into FileMaker:
                    • Download a free trial of 360Works Email 2 plugin.  This can read one or more email inboxes and pull in messages and attachments and store them in FileMaker.
                  • Automatically reading PDFs
                    • Download a free trial of 360Works Scribe 2 plugin.  This lets you read text from a PDF file.
                    • Ensure the incoming faxes and email attachments all have the correct metadata for OCR (not all do).  Scribe will show if it can read it or not.
                    • Parse the relevant data you're looking for from the text output Scribe gives you using various functions available to you in FileMaker.

                   

                  In the end, yes, you will have created a 100% automated solution and your boss will think you're the shiznit.  As a full-time professional certified FileMaker developer, I'd estimate a project like this in the $5k-$10k range.

                   

                  There's other plugins / techniques you can use, I'm just the most familiar with products from 360Works.

                   

                  In any event, if you need assistance, search for a qualified developer from FileMaker's website at:

                   

                  http://developer.filemaker.com/search/

                   

                  Happy coding!

                   

                  Eric Miller

                  DocuWrx