FormScape 2.3 Brings XML Document Management Capabilities to AS/400

With the release of version 2.3 of its FormScape output management solution, AFP Technology (UK) hopes to bring the enhanced efficiency and greater collaborative strengths of the Internet and of business-to-business (B2B) communications to bear in the document management space.
As a document or output management solution, FormScape can transform data from mainframe, Unix, Windows NT or AS/400-based ERP and e-commerce systems into dynamic business documents or reports.
Slowly but surely, the Internet and e-business are transforming the way that companies do business. And for all of the sexiness of today’s latest and greatest e-commerce start-up, the Internet’s ability to rapidly change the business of business has been felt perhaps most acutely in the non-glamorous world of enterprise back-end systems. One such back-end mainstay – the output or document management system – has already been revolutionized to some extent by the Internet and – especially – by the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Several vendors provide solutions in the client/server space that make it easy to not only automate the archiving of documents, but to easily publish them to the Web in a variety of formats.

FormScape 2.3 proposes to bring those same solutions to the AS/400. As a document or output management solution, FormScape can transform data from mainframe, Unix, Windows NT or AS/400-based ERP and e-commerce systems into dynamic business documents or reports.

According to AFP Technology, FormScape 2.3 provides XML input and output capabilities, which help to enhance its ability to route data between heterogeneous applications and information systems.

Because XML can function not only as a “glue” between disparate information systems, but can also be made to format data to meet the requirements of specific applications and individual clients, organizations have greater control over the way that content is delivered and displayed to its intended recipients. Moreover, XML can easily repackage data on-the-fly into any of several application formats, so IT organizations don’t have to have several copies of critical documents on hand in a variety of formats.

And as Edward Riddell, vice president of marketing and strategic business development with AFP Technology, document presentation and delivery are of crucial importance in the information crazy world of e-commerce.

"In today's world of e-commerce business, the presentation and delivery ofinformation has become vital," he affirms. "FormScape offers enhanced process support by streamlining business transactions and reducing overall costs for the distribution, storage, retrieval and management of business information."

In addition to its new support for XML, FormScape can also accommodate proven formats such as HTML, Adobe PDF, CSV, Postscript and ASCII formats, as well. FormScape 2.3 provides enhanced development support, and ships with a What-you-see-is-what-you-get editor that can assist in the creation of forms and templates.

Insofar as intelligence is concerned, FormScape is able to “understand” input data streams and can extract specific information from them such -- names, addresses or invoice numbers, for example – that can be used as the base data for an output document. This base data can then be mapped to new fields in any position on the output form.

PerkinsElmer Instruments Inc. (Norwalk, Conn., ) implemented FormScape when it found that its existing document management system – AFP Technology’s InterForm 400 – couldn’t interoperate with a new Unix-based Astea service management solution that it had deployed in some of its European sites.

PerkinsElmer was able to implement an output management solution based on FormScape (running on Windows NT) that not only accepted output from Astea, but that was also able to properly format output data in any of several language templates created by PerkinsElmer’s design teams.

"AFP’s FormScape is a brilliant and clever product and should be considered for managing output from any system,” comments Dave Broadbent, systems and technology manager with PerkinsElmer. “It’s a very good architecture for a print solution and is well designed for use in a LAN/WAN environment."

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