At the AIIM 2004 conference, Adobe Systems is introducing new forms processing technology that utilizes PDF, the free Adobe Reader and 2-D barcode technology to reduce costs and errors associated with manual data entry and provide a unified environment to support both paper and electronic forms processes. When the technology ships in the latter half of this year, according to Adobe, organizations will be able to create PDF-based forms that include 2-D barcodes ‘for dynamic encoding of data in formats specified by the form author, and delivery of captured data to back-end systems for processing.’
‘We’re constantly seeking new ways to enhance the services offered to citizens and tax professionals, while also improving our internal efficiency,’ said Paul Showalter, senior publishing analyst in IRS Media and Publications. ‘Electronic filing is the preferred method of submitting tax forms, but many U.S. taxpayers still choose to file by mail. Technology that allows us to offer fill-and-print tax forms on IRS.gov and our Tax Products CD-ROM will eliminate data entry on the back-end and result in a faster, more effective paper-based process. Tax forms will be processed more quickly, benefiting citizens, and the IRS will save valuable time and resources as well.’
Adobe also is announcing a public beta test of its forthcoming Adobe Designer beta software, new XML/PDF form design software that ‘enables easy creation and deployment of forms’ — whether created from scratch or by adding intelligence to existing form templates created in PDF or Microsoft Word. ‘Adobe Designer integrates XML form data with core enterprise systems, while providing all the capabilities needed to design forms with precision,’ the company says.
According to Adobe, there will be a plug-in for Adobe Reader 6.0.1 at a future date that will enable the product to work with the barcode technology, with the ‘ultimate intent to include the functionality directly in a future version of Reader.’
Adobe describes the functionality:
Once distributed to customers or constituents via the Web, email or CD-ROM, the forms can be completed on- or off-line using the free, widely distributed Adobe Reader. As end users complete form fields, the 2-D barcode dynamically encodes the data in a format specified by the form author. Once completed and printed by the user, forms can be submitted by mail or fax. Upon receipt, organizations simply scan the barcode to capture the form data and deliver it to a back-end system for processing.
‘This new technology will help solve an immediate, costly problem facing enterprises and governments worldwide,’ said Ivan Koon, senior vice president, Intelligent Documents Business Unit. ‘Because of regulatory requirements, equal access mandates and legacy system challenges, many of our customers are forced to instruct clients or constituents to submit forms on paper. Utilizing this new solution, organizations will now have faster access to more accurate data and, with PDF at the core of their investment, they will only need one environment to process paper and electronic forms.’
To author barcode-enabled PDF forms, enterprises and governments will use Acrobat? 6.0 Professional software with a plug-in or a future version of Adobe Designer software. To enable end users to fill out and print forms, organizations will harness the more than half-a-billion copies of Adobe Reader distributed to date. Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions can be utilized to embed additional rights in the PDF forms prior to distribution, providing Adobe Reader users access to additional functionality. Organizations will scan the completed forms and use an Adobe decode server or legacy system to capture the information and supply it to a back-end system for processing.
Earlier this year we reported that the ‘State of Missouri Uses PDF417 2-D Barcodes to Eliminate Data Entry Costs on Tax Returns‘ using a 2D barcode solutions called UltraForms.