Many of our clients have expressed interest in scanning directly into FileMaker Pro and we’ve been able to assemble tools to assist them in doing so for 10+ years. This is specifically relevant for industries involving contract management, legal documentation and – even more so – those in the medical field. While there have been solutions in the past for this direct scanning, none of them have been consistently supporting the latest versions of FileMaker or changing TWAIN drivers put developers into a perpetual game of scanner driver Whack-a-Mole.
Our team is happy to announce that we will be sharing a direct scanning solution we’ve had in our toolkit for FileMaker Pro 12 – the Snap2FM FileMaker “helper app”. Snap2FM was something our team decided to execute because of its huge value-add. Granted, it’s only compatible with Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners (due to the idiosyncrasies and technical challenges involved with interfacing with TWAIN compatible scanners) but this has not proved to be an issue for customers seeking elegant all in one desktop scanning solutions.
We are enthusiastic users of GoogleApps and we took note when a ScanToGoogleDocs application was developed, allowing direct scanning into Google Docs from a ScanSnap.
The new ScanToGoogleDocs application created an immediate boom in our workflow – and what’s good for us, can often be good for our customers. At this point, Adam Aronson proposed that we investigate the possibility of doing something similar with FileMaker and the ScanSnap scanner.
Up until now, users have had to scan their files to their hard drive and then insert them into FileMaker, browsing for the file with an Open dialog – a multi-step, cumbersome process. With our new FileMaker solution, Snap2FM, users will now be able to scan documents into FileMaker Pro quickly and easily to streamline their workflow.
Document management is an important, evolving portion of our space, and increased capabilities for scanning and storing files are a requirement that many more customers are asking us to fulfill. Snap2FM, along with the new FileMaker 12 remote storage feature dovetail well so we can now offer increased document management solutions.
For more document management assistance that we love here at FullCity, check out Document Snap for ideas on how to take advantage of customized paperless workflow solutions.
The Development of Snap2FM
The ScanSnap scanner software allows you to create a configuration that points to any application. If that application is capable of opening a jpeg or a PDF, you can execute a scan and it will open within the application. However, the challenge with FileMaker is that it opens database files, not image or PDF files. You can insert these into a database, but that requires scripting to automate.
With some work, we managed to come up with a connector application, Snap2FM, which does the following:
- Receives the path to the scanned file, when the app is called by ScanSnap.
- Runs a script in a FileMaker Pro file, and passes that script the path to the scanned file.
- Reads the name/address of the FileMaker server, the FileMaker filename, and the script name from a preferences file. We wanted these parameters to be read from preferences so that we could automatically deploy the scanning solution from FileMaker.
To automate the import of the scanned file, we’re using the updated FMP Script Protocol in FileMaker 12. Prior to FileMaker 12, it would have been necessary to use AppleScript on a Mac and VisualBasic on Windows, along with a cumbersome scripting process due to limited capabilities with the API and parameters. With the newly FileMaker 12 FMP Script Protocol, we can use a URL to execute a script and pass the filepath to that script. One method works on both platforms.
The URL we’re using in ScanSnap2FM is:
Please keep in mind that FMP Script Protocol will only run a script if the specified file is being hosted by FMP or FMS and is opened remotely. This may change in the future, but for now, the protocol runs on a client, and only executes scripts on a file that is Opened Remotely.