(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
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This week we’re looking at forms creation software for the Mac.
is the first company we’ll look at that makes forms creation software. In fact, the company positions itself as the only true x-platform eForms solution for Mac and Windows in that they have a high-end eForms design product, according to Nigel Brachi of Shana’s Corporate Communications division. Forms designed on a Mac can be deployed to the end-users in a Windows environment (and vice versa), he said.
Shana has been in the Mac eForms business since the late 80s and their Informed solutions have been out since 1991. In 1996 they ported Informed to Windows, and while that’s now their focus, they’ve have succeeded in keeping the Windows and Mac versions in “lock-step” since that time, Brachi said.
“Shana’s Informed solution is definitely targeted at larger organizations, as it is clear that large companies — that often have tens of thousands of forms and forms-driven processes — are likely to benefit most from eForms technologies,” he added. “As a result, Informed is the standard at the Boeing Company, at NASA (and in the majority of its centers, such as Kennedy and Johnson) and in the State of Washington, to name just three. We are Web- and XML-centric, we support a wide range of standards to work with virtually any enterprise infrastructure, and also have a complete thick client/desktop solution.”
What’s more, Shana is planning a June release for a complete eForms management solution that will support Mac OS X.
Meanwhile, Paul Otterness said that he has been working on computer automation using the Mac since 1988, originally using Trueforms. However, the best software he’s tried, and which he still uses to this day, is C*A*T (Contacts, Activities and Time). The latest (and last) version is 4.2beta.
C*A*T is a triple-helix, document-based relational database that operates in RAM, like Panorama. It has its own word processor, document and form tools, which allow you to easily make documents and forms on the fly without any programming knowledge, Otterness said.
“I have created over 800 forms that use relational references to fill out all the basics of the client from the name card and from bracketed reference keywords in the notes fields of the name card,” he said. “C*A*T is, without question, the most useful and easy to use document-based relational database, with its own form creation capability, that I have ever found on any platform. And, believe me, I have searched high and low for any alternative since C*A*T is no longer available.”
Alas, Chang Labs no longer supports C.A.T. There was once a Web site to help users “who have no place to get support,” but even that is gone.
Chris Enrico and other MacCentral readers said that the always flexible FileMaker Pro was a great product for tackling forms.
“I work for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and we have 291 electronic forms,” he said. “Having the database capabilities means you can retain prior versions of the data. I believe almost all of our forms are now in the FileMaker format.”
link to what WSDOT has currently. There are other forms listed on this page, but the FileMaker ones are near the top under WSDOT Forms.
“We have a Forms Management Office, and they did most of the work on these forms,” Enrico said.
Jeffrey Billings is also a FM Pro fan. He uses FMP in his construction business to generate a multitude of forms from applications for payment, transmittal forms, change order forms and more.
“Basically, I’ve set it up to track all the required paperwork necessary for a commercial construction project,” he said. “It works quite efficiently, too.”
is a turnkey customer management solution built with FileMaker Pro. As such it runs on any machine with a current Mac (or Windows) operating system, including Mac OS X. It also runs on mixed Windows and Mac networks.
“7Office has a customer focus,” Morley Chalmers of the 7Office team, told MacCentral. “As such it manages customer proposals and estimates, call reporting, task management, timesheets, invoicing, accounts receivable, customer statements, sales and tax collection reporting, bank deposits, product management — anything touching on customers. Its primary focus is user-friendly depth in marketing, sales flow and customer management. Bank account management we leave to your accountant’s preference for that arena. Which means he can keep his PC and the software application he’s trained and comfortable with.”
He added that you could keep all your customer related information in the 7Office environment. The product will produce a clean report showing sales and payment collection totals for whatever period, which can then be entered into any accounting program.
“Because FMP is so highly networkable, your accountant will be able access 7Office from his PC and see all customer related activities,” Chalmers said. “7Office has 15 different financial reports. Anything that can be printed can also be faxed and exported. Exports go into your choice of Excel or FileMaker Pro formats.”
For details, cruise on over to the
product Web site. Or you can fill out a
needs analysis form
to receive a formal proposal.
Bill Bankson said that several forms related tasks could easily be performed with Acrobat (not the reader, but the full program) from Adobe (http://www.adobe.com). He added that an application called
“may be alright for a local garden club or so,” but isn’t “industrial strength” like Acrobat and Informed Designer (his favorite).
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