Correction and form workflows with PDFs

  1. chevron left iconCorrection and form workflows with PDFs
December 10, 2013

With version 4.8, censhare is building on its strength in the automation of workflows with data extraction from PDFs. The XSLT toolbox allows the implementation of such things as correction workflows with PDFs. It is also possible to automate the processing of PDF forms returned by email.

Automatic processing of author comments

censhare is ideal for speeding up content workflows with the automation of procedures. Here an XSLT toolbox is the central tool. This allows processes to be created and run automatically. Additional XSLT commands in censhare 4.8 now enable more comprehensive PDF workflows. These may include correction workflows with authors, or dispatch and evaluation of PDF forms.

Comments on a PDF can be automatically attached as notes to the PDF asset

A correction workflow could look like this: when an article layout is complete, an editor could send the PDF to the associated author at the press of a button. censhare creates an up-to-date print preview as well as an author form PDF and combines them into one document. Then it generates an email from standard text, attaches the PDF, finds the author's email address and sends the email.

The author attaches any change suggestions as comments to the PDF and returns it as a special correction email. censhare monitors the corresponding email inbox. If the author's answer appears there, censhare opens the email, extracts the PDF and may attach it to the associated article object (asset). With version 4.8, censhare can read the author's comments in the returned PDF with XSLT commands, and attach them to the asset as notes. These then act as a to-do list for the corrections. Finally censhare sets the workflow step to "process corrections" and the workflow target to "text editing".

censhare not only reads comments on a PDF, but can also handle forms, for example. This allows automatic processing of returned questionnaires: as an email attachment, the returned PDF lands in a special account. censhare reads out the answers in the PDF and stores them in the system for further processing.

In the above example the author could, for example, enter their bank account details. This form was sent to the author as the first page of the correction PDF. When the author's answer returns, censhare can separate the form page from the PDF returned and send it by email as an attachment to a special account in the book-keeping department. Instead of being read by an employee there, censhare uses XSLT to read the account details from the PDF form and transfer them to a financial book-keeping program.

Customer benefits

  • More possibilities to implement individual content processes in censhare
  • Creation of workflows for automatically processing PDFs
  • Creation of processes for generating PDFs automatically, sending them and receiving the answers into censhare
  • Automatic evaluation of the content of a PDF and processing the data further in censhare
  • Automatic reading out of the comments in a PDF and storing them as notes in censhare
  • Automatic reading out of the fields in a PDF form and further processing of the answers

Application case

  • Sending PDF forms for a survey, reading the results automatically and subsequent further processing
  • Reading out PDFs with comments from various users on a draft and make available collectively
  • Reading the comments of a corrector on a PDF and saving in censhare for further processing

All contents of a PDF accessible

The XSLT commands for PDF contents complement the previous commands for working with PDFs. PDFs can be created, sent, extracted from email attachments and, for example, comments read and saved separately. This permits such things as largely automated author workflows for correction procedures.

With PDF forms, censhare recognizes the input fields and reads out the individual values on the basis of the field name. The form data are stored in the metadata or as the content of an asset. These may be processed further in censhare or perhaps exported in a corresponding format for evaluation in an analysis system.

With XSLT commands, censhare has access to almost all the contents of a PDF and can read it, as well as storing and processing it. In this way, for example, the number of pages or page sizes can be read out, or the content and the position of notes accessed. This makes censhare into a powerful tool for the automatic processing of PDFs.

XSLT commands as the basis

censhare uses two XSLT commands for processing PDFs. The first command is used to read the structure and contents of a PDF and make them available.

The second XSLT command has the task of evaluating the forms contained in a PDF. For this it understands the formats FDF (Forms Data Format), XFDF (XML Forms Data Format) and XFA (Adobe XML Forms Architecture). All three are Adobe developments, where XFA is the latest standard and XFDF is the XML version of FDF.

The PDF to be read can be the master data of an asset or can be located in a hot folder in censhare. Moreover, the XSLT commands can also access the PDF via a URL or a local data path.

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