A Macintosh computer, FileMaker Pro 13, a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i, Automator, Applescript, a Folder Action and FileMaker’s URL Scheme make a paperless solution for legal waivers a reality.
Since the advent of FileMaker Pro 12, my favorite database development tool has been great for building document management systems. These newer versions of FileMaker have much better handling of container fields, allowing developers to set up the storage for images and PDFs in a separate directory on the server. This keeps the main database file size smaller and easier to backup. With the advent of external storage, it is possible to relatively quickly add document management features to most FileMaker systems. FileMaker Pro 13’s improved URL Scheme makes life even better for developers wanting to run scripts from outside the database, including the ability to send script parameters.
I have a project where we are integrating waiver forms with a FileMaker customer and pass tracking database. In addition to an iPad-based sign-in form, there is still a need to be able to deal with paper forms, downloaded from the company’s web site and signed offsite by parents. The customer is a gym, and their desk space is a premium—squeezing a scanner in is going to be tough. There is space—just big enough for a small portable document scanner.
Developer Level: Intermediate/Advanced
- A recent Macintosh capable of running Mavericks or Yosemite OS X
- Automator – included software with all recent Macs
- A Fujitsu Scanner – I am using the ScanSnap S1300i. Note that this approach could work with any scanner that can be set up to scan to a folder. (Translation: any scanner)
- FileMaker Pro 13 (upgrade it to the latest version, which at the time of writing was 13.0v5)
- A working knowledge of FileMaker Pro
- Some knowledge of Automator and Script Editor
- An hour or so
See the Speed Test section below for an idea of how quick this routine runs with a fast scanner.