MailScan Templates are used by HowNow to automatically detect the type of form being imported and to supply information about the layout of the form. Like forms do not have to be 'batched'; HowNow can import a mixture of different types of forms in one operation. At least one MailScan Template must exist before forms can be imported.
See Setting up MailScan.
A MailScan Template consists of a sample form document stored in the Knowledge database along with details about areas on the form (zones) that contain form identification, contact identification and other information.
The information stored about each zone on a template document consists of the dimensions of the zone in relation to the edges of the document, the name of the template document, the name of the form, the type of data contained in the zone and the merge document to print after the import, if applicable. More than one zone can be specified.
There are four types of recognition zones: Document, Contact, Value and Other.
- Document Recognition Zone - contains information that identifies the type of form. For example, a Notice of Assessment has an area containing the words 'NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT'.
- Contact Recognition Zone - contains information that identifies the contact. For example, a Notice of Assessment had an area containing the contact's tax file number.
- Value Recognition Zone - contains a balance value. For example, a Notice of Assessment had an area containing the various tax balances.
- Form Year Recognition Zone - contains the year of the form. For example, a Notice of Assessment had an area containing the words '30 June YYYY' that specifies the year of the form.
- Payment Date Recognition Zone - contains the payment due date. For example, on Notice of Assessments when payment is due, an area contains the words 'This amount is/was' followed by the date the payment is due.
- Other Recognition Zone - contains any other text information to be read from the form.
During import, the MailScan template document is used to identify the type of form and the corresponding zone information is used to read the contact identifying data and other information from the form using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). A suitable merge document can also be created.
To maintain MailScan Templates, go to File > Administration > Records > MailScan Templates.
This dialog allows MailScan Templates to be created or edited.
Template Document - Select the image document that best matches the type of form this MailScan Template describes.
Note: the form image must first be stored in HowNow's Knowledge database as a TIF file and be made current before it can be attached to a MailScan Template. If the forms to be imported are .PDF files, the ones to be used as MailScan templates must first be converted to a TIF file before they can be used. See Convert PDF to TIF.
Document Name - The name of the document type this template specifies. For example, 'Notice of Assessment'. This value is used to identify the type of form during import and must match the name exactly.
Title - the title of this MailScan Template. The default is the same name as the MailScan template document.
Note: the title can have the contact field values or dates automatically embedded, but not the record ID. See Standard Record Titles for more details.
Merge Document - optional. The merge document to create when importing forms of this type. If the next two fields have a value after importing a form and they are equal to within 5 cents, this merge document is created.
If the following fields have no values, the merge document is always created.
Estimate Field - optional. The name of the contact field used to hold an estimated value. For example, the amount of tax calculated to be payable or refundable. If this and the next field have a value after importing a form and they are equal and a merge document is specified above, it is created.
Actual Field - optional. The name of the contact field used to hold an actual value extracted from an imported form. For example, the amount of tax the ATO specifies as payable or refundable. If this and the above field have a value after importing a form and they are equal and a merge document is specified above, it is created.
Zones - a list of zones defined for this MailScan Template. A typical template contains at least 3 zones.
To add, edit or delete zones, click Add Zone, Edit Zone or Delete Zone respectively.
See MailScan Template Zones below.
Note: at least one zone must be defined.
Is Active - use this field to activate or de-activate templates. They can be temporarily reactivated on the MailScan Import dialog.
Note: To improve processing speed, rarely used templates should be deactivated and only reactivated on the import dialog when needed.
MailScan Template Zones are definitions of areas of an image document that HowNow uses to extract information about the document.
Title - the title of the zone. Automatically created by HowNow but it can be changed.
Contact Field Name - the name of the contact field containing the contact identification data. For example, with ATO forms, the usual contact identification field is Tax File Number.
Zone Type - There are three types of recognition zones:
- Document Zone - contains information that identifies the type of form. For example, a Notice of Assessment has an area containing the words 'NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT'.
- Contact Zone - contains information that identifies the contact. For example, a Notice of Assessment had an area containing the contact's tax file number.
- Value Zone - contains a balance value. For example, a Notice of Assessment had an area containing the various tax balances.
- Form Year Zone - contains the form year and is used to create the correct record location. For example, a Notice of Assessment has an area containing the words '30 June YYYY' that specifies the year of the form.
- Payment Date Zone - contains the date payment is due. For example, on Notice of Assessment forms where payment is due, an area contains the words 'This amount is/was' followed by the date the payment is due.
- Other Recognition Zone - contains any other text information to be read from the form.
Sign Type - specifies the type of sign to expect when reading balances from an imported form. The options are:
- None - not a balance field or no sign specified,
- Trailing CR/DR - the trailing debit/credit sign typically used on ATO documents,
- Brackets - balances with brackets are assumed to be negative, no brackets, positive, or +- Sign.
OCR Filter - optional.
Text used to help HowNow's optical character recognition system recognise values on the imported form and to reject possibly spurious characters. Any characters entered here restrict recognition of characters on the imported form to just those characters specified. For example, when the field is numeric like a tax file number, use '0123456789'. This forces HowNow to read only the digits between 0 and 9 and to ignore all other, possibly spurious characters.
Another example is to use '0123456789.CDR' when reading balances from ATO forms. This restricts recognition to the digits 0 through 9, a decimal point and DR or CR. Note that 'R' only needs to be specified once.
Pattern - optional.
Text entered here is used to help HowNow recognise text that matches a pattern. A pattern (or mask) consists of a string of the numbers 0 and 9 and the # character. The length of the pattern matches the text to be recognised. The number 0 represents a number if a character in that position exists; a 9 represents a number and it must exist; a # represents an alphabetic character if a character in that position exists.
For example a pattern for a tax file number would be '099999999', or '099 999 999', 8 or 9 numbers only, with or without spaces. A pattern for an assessment amount would be '0000000009.00##', up to 10 significant digits, a decimal point, two decimal places and optionally, two alphabetic characters.
Note that the latest assessment notices use commas as thousands separators. In that case the pattern would be '0,000,000,009.00##'.
Text Before - optional.
Text entered here is used to find the specific location of a field within a recognition zone. HowNow then reads the value immediately following the Text Before text. For example, to read the form year from the line containing 30 June 2009, the Text Before would be '30 JUNE'.
Text Length - optional.
If a Text Before value is used above, this field can be used to specify how many characters should be read after the text before. In the example above, the text length should be 4 to read the characters '2009'.
If the value is negative, this field specifies how many characters should be read from the end of the line, ignoring the full stop, if any. For example if the text was either 'This amount is/was due on 05 JUN 09' or 'This amount is/was payable by 05 JUN 09' then the text before would be 'This amount is/was' and the text length should be -9 to read the '05 JUN 09' from the end of the text.
Note: any spaces before or after the text are ignored.
Remove Spaces - removes any spaces found in the recognised text. Used to help prevent misreading characters on forms that have been scanned with very low resolution.
Read Last Line Only - used to help recognise the last value in a list of balances or other values where the height of the list varies with each form. For example, an ATO Notice of Assessment.
Fill Filter - optional. Attempts to fill 'holes' in characters to make them easier to recognise. Only use when normal reading fails or the text is shaded.
Despeckle Filter - optional. Removes any scattered black pixels surrounding characters to make them easier to recognise. Only use when normal reading fails.
Bold Filter - optional. Increases the width of characters to make them easier to recognise. Only use when normal reading fails.
Document Image - shows the document image and allows the recognition area to be defined by drawing a frame around it.
To draw a frame, click the mouse at the top left of the area to be read and drag the cursor to the bottom right of the area. The frame will expand and follow the mouse.
Make the frame relatively large so that if form registration is poor the required text will still be within the zone. For example, draw the frame to include the line above and below and a suitable margin on each side of the required text.
In the case of a balance at the bottom of a column of balances, draw the frame to include all possible balances and tick the Last Line field above.
To move an existing frame, click anywhere in the frame and drag the mouse to the new location.
To resize the frame, click on any side and drag the side to the new location.
To delete a frame, click anywhere outside of the existing frame.
Only one frame can be created per zone.
Use the Zoom Control to zoom the image to where the recognition zone can be easily seen and manipulated.