OmniForm 4.0: Looking good but could be better

In the government's ongoing effort to reduce the amount of paperwork that its employees and the general public must complete, one of the most effective weapons in its arsenal may be Caere Corp.'s OmniForm 4.0 electronic forms tool. Built around the optical character recognition (OCR) engine found i

In the government's ongoing effort to reduce the amount of paperwork that its employees and the general public must complete, one of the most effective weapons in its arsenal may be Caere Corp.'s OmniForm 4.0 electronic forms tool.

Built around the optical character recognition (OCR) engine found in Caere's OmniPage Pro 9.0, OmniForm's specialty is scanning paper forms into electronic format, and it excels at this. Given that the product's design and editing tools leave something to be desired and output to Hypertext Markup Language is in need of further work, many potential users will want to wait for a future update for improvements.

Just as OCR has improved in accuracy and ease of use, so has OmniForm's form recognition capabilities. Version 4.0's accuracy with text and graphic elements is good enough that you may not have to make any corrections after scanning your form, provided the form's type size is large enough. I found the cutoff in the Arial font to be between 10 and 12 points for acceptable recognition.

The program will even recognize fields with common labels, such as "Date," and convert them into corresponding data field types. Another first is color recognition and matching. With the recent proliferation of color printers, this new feature may become even more important than it seems.

On the other hand, OmniForm can seem overeager to do your job for you in some respects. The most common type of correction I had to make was reconverting horizontal rules that had been misidentified as data entry fields. Such edits are easier to make with the new, versatile and wizard-like Proofreader window, which includes a tool to change these fields back to plain-old lines.

OmniForm makes it tough to create new forms, though, or even to make design changes to scanned forms. Its design toolkit remains somewhere to the south of basic, even lacking methods to group objects or add a column to a table. If your main interest is in creating new forms, you'll want to look for a stronger toolkit.

Tools to Enhance Forms

In addition to the field-type recognition and color matching, OmniForm is full of tools to enhance forms for electronic use.

Data entry assistance is provided by calculating fields, drop-down lists and serial numbers. You can designate any field as a signature field or add hyperlinks to your form. The security feature enables you to specify that a certain field or the entire form will be locked upon the "signing," or filling, of a signature field.

Finally, the program enables you to save files to a range of useful formats - including HTML, Microsoft Corp.'s Rich Text Format and Adobe Systems Inc.'s Portable Document Format as well as earlier versions of OmniForm (2.0 and 3.0) and OmniForm Markup Language (OFML) - for use on the World Wide Web with a plug-in reader. Users of Microsoft's Web Publishing Wizard (Version 1.52 or later) also can use the publish-to-Web option.

When I tried saving a form with calculating fields in HTML, the result also had calculating fields, thanks to automated use of JavaScript. While I found this truly impressive, I was less than thrilled with the squashed appearance of one line of fields and the apparent dropout of a couple of rows in my table of fields, leaving blank lines in their place. These glitches wouldn't have been all that disappointing except that the form editing tools are so crude that I despaired of ever being able to fix the problems.

Caere also offers a separate OmniForm Filler edition for agencies with multiple users who need to fill in electronic forms but not to generate or edit them.

Installing OmniForm on my scanning system wasn't as smooth as it might have been. This was my own fault in one sense, but the software offered little in the way of a solution.

The problem came up because multiple operating systems have created a chronic shortage of free space on my hard drive. But OmniForm's installation procedure did not let me know all of its needs ahead of time. I did get a figure for the program's requirements, but no mention was made of the space that I actually needed on my hard drive.

In the days before everyone licensed InstallShield for their installation procedures, responsible vendors often let you know not only how much drive space you'd need but also where you'd need it. Now most vendors seem to rely on InstallShield's Back button to give users the installation flexibility they need. With my hard drive cramped, I find this frustrating but not specific to OmniForm 4.0. However, once the space problem was ironed out, installation and configuration were automatic and smooth.

OmniForm comes with a generally capable and well-indexed printed user guide. I found online help less useful for design and editing methods, but it does include four very handy online tutorials.

-- Marshall is a free-lance writer who has been reviewing computer software for the past 10 years.

*****

OmniForm 4.0Caere Corp.(800) 535-7226www.caere.com

Price and Availability: OmniForm 4.0 is available on the General Services Administration schedule through several government resellers. It costs $149 and is not sold in multipacks. OmniForm Filler costs $49 (single), $199 (five pack) or $1,579 (50 pack).

Remarks: OmniForm 4.0's form scanning and conversion to electronic format are quite good, but deficient design and editing tools and buggy HTML conversion mar the product's finish. Those simply wanting to convert paper to electronic forms will be pleasantly surprised, but users needing to create or redesign forms may experience another kind of surprise.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.