OmniForm brings home the data

OmniForm brings home the data


Paperless office? Hah! Dead trees live on in paper forms. There is another way: Caere's OmniForm 4 lets you create, distribute, and tabulate forms electronically. New features allow you to save forms for use on the Web and import data from external files. A wizard helps tidy imported forms.

OmniForm can import scanned forms or files from any application. My preproduction copy correctly converted Acrobat IRS forms, even interpreting some elements' functions. For example, it converted boxes labelled "DATE" into date fields. But creating forms from scratch - what a pain! You can't group, shrink or stretch elements, control the spacing between them, or align them precisely.

You can speed up data entry and reduce errors by adding formulas, choice lists (as opposed to blank fields), and serial numbers. For HTML forms, OmniForm generates JavaScript to handle calculations, data validation, and so on - but my beta created HTML forms with JavaScript errors, and it made some fields so big that they covered nearby text.

Data entered in an OmniForm form goes to a flat-file database, which you can search, edit, and export for use in other database apps. But OmniForm has no database server, and setting it up to enter data directly into another database isn't easy.

OmniForm offers a Fill edition for businesses whose employees must fill out lots of forms but don't need to create them.

The standard edition can convert forms to double-clickable applications that you can distribute by e-mail. While less convenient than using Fill, this approach worked without a glitch in my tests.

OmniForm is great for converting paper forms and filling them in electronically. But to create precise forms from scratch, you may be better off using a CAD or a high-end graphics package, then exporting the forms to OmniForm.

The Bottom Line

OmniForm 4

Pro: Great features for importing paper forms; Web support.

Cons: Design tools lack structure.

Value: A lot of software for a very low price.

Price: available on application.

Australian distributor:

Performance Sales

Tel (02) 9450 0777

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