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Study Guide — Technology Principles
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Study Guide — Technology Principles

Participate in the collaboration! If you can suggest a recommended reading on any of the topics below, please complete the reference template for consideration of this source. Be sure to include the CFSP outline reference (example: III. Technology Principles - A. Forms Manufacturing - 1. Products) for each recommendation.

Keep the recommended readings up-to-date! Please notify us at if a reading is no longer relevant to the outline topic, or if a resource is no longer available.

Note: The recommended readings were compiled by individual members and BFMA study groups. These readings have not been approved by the Form Systems Certification Board and therefore, completion of some or all readings does not guarantee a passing score on the actual CFSP exam.

III. Technology Principles

The best analyzed forms and the best designed forms, whether paper for electronic, are useless unless they can be manufactured correctly (paper) or deployed effectively (electronic). Behind the detailed specifications are a series of principles (mostly just good logical sense) that serve as the guiding context for action.

A. Electronic Technologies
Production for electronic forms differs in many ways from the paper world. For example, electronic forms may remain electronic during their entire life cycle and never be reduced to paper. Many devices and techniques are available when there is a need to create a paper copy of the form.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Anatomy of a Legally Sustainable E-Form: Detailed Requirements by Paul Wernet
Article: Section 508 Wizard by Behdad Payami
Article: Online Form Formats: Why Use One Format Over Another by Jim Healy
Article: Geek Speak 101 by Laurie Weaver
Article: Business to Consumer Electronic Signatures by Lewis Levy
Article: Increasing the ROI from Forms and eForms within Enterprise Applications by Mark Seamans
Article: Accessible Web Forms by Behdad Payami

1. Digital Demand Imaging
Print-on-demand simply means that an electronic form may be transferred to paper when the need arises. From another perspective, the "printing” of a paper form may be accomplished through the use of equipment using digital demand imaging in place of a traditional printing press.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Understanding the Power of Web-based, Distributed Capture for Forms by Joe Longo
Article: What to do with the Data? by Microsoft and Avanade

2. Recognition Systems
Recognition systems are handy devices that support either the machine reading of data from a completed form or the automatic pre-filling of data onto a form.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Improving Forms Workflows through Point of Service Data Capture by Dr. Gregory J. Clary PhD

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) is most easily recognized when used in banking transactions. The E-13 B font contains only numeric (0-9) and special characters to designate a "transit number field,” "amount field,” "on-us field,” and "auxiliary on-us field.”  MICR inks (usually black, but also available in green, brown and red) contain iron oxide pigments which can be magnetized after printing.  These magnetized characters are read by electronic recognition equipment

b. OCR
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a system whereby characters written onto a form are read by machines. Special non-reflective "read” inks and reflective "drop out”  or "non-read” inks, along with special OCR papers which improve contrast and enhance image clarity, enable the OCR scanning equipment to differentiate data characters from form structure.

c. OMR
Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) systems employ scanners that read marks located in very specific positions (OMR response grids) on the form.  These positions are controlled by "form ID marks” and "timing marks” printed on each page.  OMR forms, often referred to as bubble forms, are filled in (marked) manually by the user.

d. Bar Codes
Bar Codes are available in many formats, but all use a reader to interpret symbol, not usually readable by the human eye. Bar codes may be two dimensional, with relatively simple content, or three dimensional, where content is comparatively complex. Uses vary widely from Universal Product Codes (UPC) used in grocery stores to the Face Identification Marks (FIM) used by the U.S. Postal Service.

Recommended Readings:
Article: 2-D Barcodes for Paper Forms: Eliminate Errors in Forms Processing by Carlos Gonzalez
Article: 2D and RFID Barcode Technology For the Forms Professional by Rune Simard CFSP
Article: Bar Codes and Eforms by Mike Stuhley
Article: Using 2-D Barcode Technology to Bridge the Paper-to-Digital Divide by Paul A. Showalter
Article: Bar Code Technology for the Forms Professional by Rune Simard CFSP

e. Other
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) readers recognize human readable characters as opposed to marks and bar codes. Several OCR fonts are currently in use.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Testing a Handprint Data Capture System by K. Bradley Paxton PhD and Dawn R. Savacool

3. Post Processing
Post-processing includes activities such as printing of paper copies for signatures, emailing of data captured by the electronic form, filing and faxing operations and interfaces to databases and other systems.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Creating Automated Workflow with eForms by Scott Beckman
Article: Redaction 101 by Behdad Payami)

4. Data Merge Printing
Data merge printing is a method of joining data captured by a form with data contained in another medium, such as a database, to produce a combined document.

5. Production Principles
Description Coming Soon.

B. Systems Architecture
One of the major advantages of electronic forms is their role as one component of an automated system made up of various functions and equipment types. These inherent connections, the system architecture, support complex workflows.

1. Hardware
The most physical of the four components of any architecture is the hardware it uses.

a. Host
A host is any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network.

b. Server
A server is a computer running a program that supports processing actions by individually connected PCs.

c. Client
A client is a software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a Server software program or another computer, often across a great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or more specific kinds of Server programs and each Server requires a specific kind of Client.

d. Printers
A printer is a device connected to an individual PC or to a network that transforms screen images to paper-based images.

e. Other
Peripherals are associated devices, such as terminals and routers that are connected and configured to serve specific purposes.

2. Operating Systems
The operating system is the basic organizing technical foundation for running any computer. It contains the code needed to cause actions to happen, connections to be made, resources to be accessed and retained and the results to be displayed for the human operator.

3. Networks
Networks are structured groups of computer hardware components that support the communication and sharing of data and equipment among multiple computer users. The connections among the components may be hard-wired or virtual.

4. Communications Systems
Communication systems employ specific protocols to facilitate the connections among computers and their users. Email is one of the most obvious examples.

5. Application Software
The use of various application software products provide complementary support for an organization’s forms, whether in paper or electronic format. Selection criteria for these products must focus upon need, applicability to the specific situation, and compatibility with the overall system architecture.

a. Imaging Systems
Records retention requirements may call for keeping the original transaction document (form), or a copy of it, for some specified period of time. In lieu of retaining the space-consuming paper forms, an imaging system is often employed, through which a photographic copy is retained either digitally or on film.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Some Scanner Issues Still to Be Resolved by BIS Strategic Decisions
Article: Information Capturing Solutions for Semi-Structured Forms and Documents by Artur Vassylyev

b. Forms Composition
Forms composition, whether in paper or electronic format, is facilitated through the use of software products specifically intended for that purpose. Such products may provide the tools necessary for managing exact spacing, insertion of text and graphics, field mapping, and the ultimate interface with users, printers, servers and other application software, such as databases.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Everything You Wanted to Know About the IRS Tax Forms Composition Process But Were Afraid to Ask by Karen L. Gill

c. Forms Automation
Forms automation software may be as narrow in its function as simply supplying a catalog or portal through which users may obtain the forms they need. Or, it may be much broader in scope, including form specifications, a request channel for new or revised forms, catalogs, form- group data, forms kits, inventory control, deployment schemes, costs, development of metrics regarding form users and usage patterns, and various additional reporting functions.

Recommended Readings:
Article: The US Department of State Implementation of eForms by Glen Dixon
Article: Extending Service-Oriented Architectures with Xforms by Cayce Marston

d. Messaging
Communication of information is an integral function of electronic forms. Managing the various methodologies used to transmit that data to the appropriate recipients is accomplished through messaging technology.

1. Vendor Independent Messaging
Vendor Independent Messaging (VIM) provides a generic path, not associated with any specific software product or technology, for moving data from sender to receiver.

2. Messaging Application Programming
When it is appropriate to transmit information collected on forms to various recipients or associated business applications for further processing, the needed methodologies and mechanics are established and implemented through messaging application programming.

3. Messaging Handling Systems
When completed electronic forms are to be converted to email or in some other way made available to other systems for further processing, software is needed to manage those processes. That software is referred to as a message handling system (MHS).

e. Database
A database is a repository where the data collected by business forms is recorded, organized and manipulated into useful information. Databases may also serve as the source of known, previously collected data that can be added automatically to a form to help complete a transaction. Whether formatted as stand-alone tables or more complex relational interpretations, databases serve to provide usable meaning to otherwise disparate data elements.

1. Open Database Connectivity
Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a standard method for third-party programs to access common databases.

2. Structured Query Language
Structured Query Language (SQL) provides a standardized method for extracting and reporting useable and meaningful information from a database.

f. GroupWare
Software that is shared by multiple members of a working unit is called groupware. It supports online collaboration for teams, projects & communities.

g. Workflow
Workflow is 1) a sequence of processes (automated or manual) which are subject to specified business rules; and 2) the analysis and optimization of business processes. Completing a form is usually only the beginning of a longer process with varying steps that justify the collection of data and supply the results to one or more systems that are then able to make use of the information. Studying existing workflows often expose hidden opportunities for improvement by merging, eliminating, or reassigning process steps. By using such studies, processes are often clarified, speeded up, strengthened and their costs reduced.

h. Electronic Commerce
A natural extension of the capabilities of electronic forms is their use as the facilitators of electronic commerce – buying and selling goods and services electronically – usually through the Internet. Special care must be applied to the analysis and design phases when developing forms that are to be used in electronic commerce to assure that all necessary and required functions are adequately served. Security, mathematical calculations, electronic signatures, database interfaces, and encryption may be individually or severally appropriate.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Creating Business Value with eProcurement and Electronic Collaboration by Sean Wilson
Article: Business to Consumer (B2C) Electronic Signatures by Clay Kittrell

i. Security and Encryption
Security (prevention of data tampering by a third party) and encryption (encoding the data to require the appropriate key for access) are safeguards that are usually required for electronic commerce and may be needed in other environments. Various techniques, some hardware-based and some software-based, are available to support these challenges.

Recommended Readings:
Article: eSignature Requirements Gathering by Tommy Petrogiannis

j. Multimedia
Depending upon implementation parameters, the form may need to be deployed in more than one format (as multimedia) – that is, as a paper form and as an electronic form – to facilitate its use in disparate situations and environments.

k. Document Management Systems
Document management systems are used to organize and track  form deployment, availability, usage, revision, version control and system interface points.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Forms and EDMS: Putting the Pieces Together by Bill Roach, CRM, LA
Article: The Impact of PDF/Archiving on Content Management by Christy Hubbard

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