Snap2FM: Scanning directly into FileMaker with ScanSnap Scanners

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.

Why Snap2FM?

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:

  1. Receives the path to the scanned file, when the app is called by ScanSnap.
  2. Runs a script in a FileMaker Pro file, and passes that script the path to the scanned file.
  3. 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:

FMP://Servername/filename/?script=scriptname&param=pathtothescannedfile

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.

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9 Responses to Snap2FM: Scanning directly into FileMaker with ScanSnap Scanners

  1. Stephan says:

    Thank you for providing this wonderful tool. Just wonder whether it will work with the new ScanSnap iX500 using WLAN?

    Thanks, Stephan

  2. Adam Aronson says:

    Hi Stephan,

    Thanks for your inquiry! We are also very excited by the features offered in the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 and – are awaiting delivery of ours as we speak. Once we have it in house and have had a chance to test it with Snap2FM we’ll check back here and let you know.

  3. Andreas Haandlykken says:

    Thank you for a smart solution. Does Snap2FM support ScanSnap N1800?

    Thanks, Andreas

  4. Adam Aronson says:

    Hi Stephan,

    It is my understanding that the WLAN scanning offered by the iX500 is only allowed from iOS devices at this time. Stay tuned – if there is an update that allows scanning over the wireless LAN from OS X or Windows we’ll be sure to look into ways to leverage that.

    Adam

  5. Adam Aronson says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Snap2FM currently only supports scanning through the ScanSnap Manager interface so if the N1800 uses that or its tools have “ScanSnap Mode” available as an option you should be able to. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to an N1800 at this time.

    Adam

  6. Andreas Haandlykken says:

    Hello,
    Have you been able to test Snap2FM with the iX500 yet?

    Thanks, Andreas

  7. Todd Duell says:

    Which ScanSnap models have you validated to work?

  8. Adam Aronson says:

    Hi Nick,

    I personally can confirm that it will as I use the iX500 and Snap2FM on my Mac when I’m in the office.

    Adam

  9. Adam Aronson says:

    Hi Todd,

    The quick answer is… Any Fujitsu scanner that utilizes the ScanSnap Manager application (Windows or Mac) should be able to be configured to work with Snap2FM.

    Adam

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