John Linehan
Author Archives: John Linehan

Nexus 2010

I recently attended the Technology conference put on by my company. Nexus®, as it is dubbed, is where we try to bring in all the local and national minds in our ECM space together. On the vendor side we had both hardware and software manufacturers represented. On the standards side we had credits offered for PMI, ARMA, AHIMA, and IAPP just by attending. There was pre-conference training on  Oracle I/PM11g, a risk management course, and an AIIM ECMp course. For the user community we had attendees from Fortune 50 companies  down to small government agencies and everything in between. Sounds great right? It was.

As with any conference, you have to make it to the break out session that relate to you, and make connections with people that you can relate to. The latter was easy of course, we are all living and breathing the ECM world. Even if your content is different, the pain points are nearly always the same. It’s great to connect with others and find out their resolutions to similar issues, their approach to common problems, and to hear their success stories. Besides giving a presentation on our product ILINX® Integrate (something I have blogged about in the past), I also attended sessions on advanced document capture, ILINX Content Store, Oracle I/PM, and sessions on project management.

The breakout sessions had real value for me. Continue reading

Oracle I/PM and TIFF Requirements

However far we move away from the imaging side of ECM, it is still the largest part of the industry. More often than not, the solutions I deploy revolve around some sort of mechanism to scan, store, and retrieve documents. Imaging is the gateway into Business Process Management (BPM), Records Management (RM), Electronic Reports Management (ERM), and a whole string of Line of Business applications (LOB). I often work with Oracle Image and Process Management (I/PM) as the ECM component and we integrate it with many different applications. There are a few caveats with I/PM and I ran into one issue recently that has come up many times in the past.

Oracle I/PM version 10G (and earlier) has a list of requirements for TIFF images. That’s not to say that the system can’t handle any object, because it can. You can file anything into an I/PM system, but you might not be able to view it within the software. For example: you could file a .zip file into the system, it just wouldn’t render in the viewer. The TIFF requirement list has to do with the image viewer built into the system. So if you want to be able to view what you file into an I/PM system with the I/PM viewer, you better be sure your TIFF images meet the requirements. The main reasons to limit access solely to the I/PM viewer are:

  • Limit access to documents within the I/PM system only. This simply means you don’t want users to be able to view the object outside of I/PM.
  • To take advantage of the I/PM annotation capabilities.

The TIFF requirements as listed in the I/PM documentation are as follows:

  • Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
  • Group IV Compression
  • Group VI Compression (Original Microsoft TIFF standards, not the Wang hybrid)
  • 200, 300 or 400 dpi
  • X resolution equal to Y resolution
  • Non-tiled
  • Non-stripped (i.e., Lines per strip equal to total lines. Stripped and LZW formats are not supported.)
  • Image widths which are a multiple of 8
  • Fill order of 1 or 2
  • Tags at the top or bottom of the file
  • Single-plane (monochrome) / Bi-tonal
  • Single page or multi-page TIFFs.
  • Intel Format (II) are supported. Other formats, such as Motorola format (MM) are not supported. Group 7 TIFF are not supported.

That might seem like a long list when you first glance at it. But it is pretty simple to modify an image and render it compatible with the I/PM viewer. There are plenty of tools out there to standardize TIFF images. ImageMagick or a couple of different tools by Informatick would do the trick. With ImageMagick there is a compress function that can standardize the image. Simply execute ImageMagick with the ‘-compress Group4 –density 200×200’ command and the image output will meet all the I/PM requirements.

From experience, most scanning applications meet the I/PM requirements so this isn’t an issue. Documents coming out of Kofax Capture, Oracle Document Capture, or ILINX Capture all meet the I/PM TIFF requirements. Where the I/PM TIFF requirements becomes an issue is when migrating documents from an old legacy ECM application that stored or captured images in a non-standard format. Just be aware that the requirements are there and that the images have to be modified before being archived into I/PM if they don’t meet the specifications.

John Linehan

Senior Systems Engineer

ImageSource Inc.

Integrating Disparate Applications at the Client Level

One product I really enjoy working with and thinking of ways to use is ILINX Integrate. The product is designed to bridge the gap between separate applications on the client side with no custom applications. If you can administer an ECM solution, configuring ILINX Integrate should come easily. ILINX Integrate is installed and configured at the client level so there is no need to modify the Line of Business or other external application. In a nutshell what the tool is designed for is passing data from one application to another. If you have implemented a server side integration in the past, think about it: how many hours were spent designing, implementing, and testing the integration? How many groups were involved and had to sign off on the idea of an integration before you could even start thinking about designing it. Personally I think that is the biggest benefit of an ILINX Integrate implementation, the ability to link two applications without having to make any changes to the applications you are integrating. From my experience the application owners don’t care, once they hear it is client side and no change will be made to the application they cease to be involved. Of course there is a flip side to this; every workstation you want to have the integration configured on will need to be touched. The product can be installed and configured remotely, but still there is a level of effort there.

It can be rather simple to decide whether ILINX integrate or a server side integration is a better fit. First off, can the applications you want to pass data between be modified or is there a built in mechanism for transferring data? If no, then a product like ILINX Integrate might be the only option. The other criteria for deciding if ILNX Integrate might be a fit is how many clients would need the proposed integration? If it is just a single work group or department that needs the integration, is it worth the level of effort to create the integration versus the cost of ILINX Integrate. The same applies to an enterprise implementation: compare the estimated level of effort for implementing a custom integration versus the estimated level of effort to distribute and manage ILINX Integrate to clients across the enterprise.

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Document Scanning and Some Best Practices

There are a number of variables to consider before determining the document capture best practices for an organization. The first question I would ask is: Is this a departmental/workgroup or enterprise scanning solution? The second question I would ask is:  Is this an intelligent capture solution? The definition of ‘intelligent capture’ I use is: the ability to automatically separate and extract data from documents. Those variables should always be in the forefront of your mind when designing the capture solution. Setting those variables aside, let’s think about why we are even scanning in the first place. The goal of any capture solution should be to save money, where that money is saved varies from organization to organization but the goal is the same. Scanning documents has a cost inherently associated with it; the goal of any solution design should be to walk that line between the cost associated with input and the savings associated with retrieval/Business Process and come up on the winning side. There are many things that could be considered a blanket ‘best practice’ techniques for document capture but I believe the end goal (where you see the savings) determines the priority of those best practices.Continue reading

ECM Technology “Why It’s so Rewarding”

Sometimes I wonder why we work in technology. I have decided that I work in the technology sector for two reasons, ‘Aha’ moments and doing cool stuff. Obviously there are projects and times that I would prefer doing something a little less stressful and time consuming but I believe the ‘Aha’ moments and creative solutions we come up with make up for it. As a systems engineer it is a pretty good feeling after a large project that revamps the way a company does business – for the better. Of course every project is filled with its share of ‘Aha’ moments.

When I am referring to ‘Aha’ moments I am talking about that feeling that comes when you figure something out. Whether it is big or small, getting to the bottom of something is always nice. It can be really frustrating when you’re in the trenches stepping through issues from beginning to end trying to determine where the problem is, but solving an issue normally makes up for all that time that felt wasted. Solving an issue when you already know the resolution is OK, but it’s not nearly as nice figuring something out for the first time. I don’t play soduko or do crossword puzzles but perhaps that is because I get my fill of that sort of mental exercise at work. Sometimes after a week on the road getting my fill of ‘Aha’ moments I don’t want to have to use my brain for as long as possible.
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