Today marks the latest release of our best-in-class HTML-to-PDF conversion engine, activePDF WebGrabber 2013. This new version re-introduces the Internet Explorer engine (back by popular demand!) alongside our Native engine, providing developers the optimal balance between fidelity and throughput.
In addition to bringing the IE engine back, we’ve added some cool new features such as digital signature support and AES encryption, stamping and watermarking, and support for WebFonts. Architectural updates, a new UI, and some pretty significant performance enhancements round out this major version upgrade.
“Initial feedback on this release has been extremely positive. Customers are thrilled with the new IE engine as well as improvements we’ve made to the Native Engine and overall performance” said activePDF’s CEO and founder, Tim Sullivan.
As always, upgrades to this major version are free to existing WebGrabber customers with a current Maintenance and Support contract. Contact our Subscriptions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
activePDF® DocConverter™ Enterprise 2010 Service Release R4
AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE INSTALLATION
activePDF® DocConverter™ Enterprise is our powerful document conversion tool that now supports open office file formats.
IMPORTANT: This release of DocConverter Enterprise includes a significant change to the conversion engine. It is important that you read this FAQ: activePDF DocConverter Back-up Notice prior to installing DocConverter Enterprise 2010 R4.
DocConverter Enterprise 2010 R4 update is now available for immediate installation. See the release notes for details on all fixes.
DocConverter Enterprise Service Release R4
For more information about activePDF DocConverter Enterprise click here
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Server-Based Apps Facilitate Preparation
of Legal & Tax Documents Using Prompted Interviews
to Create Custom PDFs for Pleadings, Filings
Santa Ana, Calif. – The Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) has been providing legal and tax services to lower income residents for decades but it was always faced with a manpower problem – it was difficult to provide their high level of service to as many people in the area who needed it. There were simply far more people who needed help than there were lawyers and support personnel to serve them, and that meant not everyone could be helped as quickly as might be necessary. Prioritization was an issue.
The LASOC programs are designed to offer non-criminal legal support to individuals of modest means, as defined by federal law. The legal services typically are provided in family law areas, such as:
- Child support
- Name changes
- Civil harassment
- Protective orders
- Tax filings
- And a large number of other legal and tax needs
In 2000, LASOC launched a technology program intended to not only provide enhanced legal services but to also empower the community to overcome the “digital divide.” The goal was to provide the local community with access to technology that would help them become comfortable using it to solve any number of legal problems on their own.
“The biggest problem we saw was that there were so many government agencies converting to offering online services, but there’s a large group of our clientele who aren’t comfortable using technology,” said A. J. Tavares, manager of information technology and software development. “We believed that limited them, so we expanded our mission of solving legal and social services issues with trying to reduce that digital divide.”
To address that problem, Tavares created software that prompts users through a programmed interview process in any of three languages – English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The application guides users through a question and answer process, and then inputs their numerical data and text responses to a server-based program for creating a customized set of legal form PDFs and instructions on what to do with them. The result is that people can, in essence, solve their own legal problems – and in the process, LASOC legal staff then merely has to review the paperwork before it’s filed with the court or other agency. Users receive copies of forms and filing instructions in their native language, but all court documents are also produced as PDFs in English.
“This means that our users can then go to court, file their forms and have access to the justice system,” Tavares said. “This solved one of the primary bottlenecks of the justice system, since the courts are not allowed to give legal advice, but users receive a customized solution that lets them help themselves and expands our outreach to the community.”
Solving the Technology Challenge
The challenge LASOC had to solve was how to map each user’s interview data to PDF templates of court forms. California for the most part is a forms-based legal system and many legal situations require a lot of paperwork. In the typical domestic violence situation, for example, there may be 30 pages of documents to respond to property issues, child support, custody support, temporary orders and so on. LASOC staffers previously had to create all such paperwork manually, based on personal interviews with the clients.
“In the past this meant we typically used to hand people a 30-page document and ask them to fill it out neatly in pen and bring it back to our office,” Tavares said. “We had to review those documents and then the person had to go through a court hearing to be able to resolve their problem, such as getting a domestic violence restraining order. Obviously that whole process can be a little intimidating and a little discouraging.”
The solution was built using the activePDF Toolkit™ product from activePDF, Inc., based in Mission Viejo, Calif. “The toolkit was one of the fundamental architectural decisions we made prior to beginning our development work,” Tavares said.
The activePDF Toolkit can generate a new PDF on-the-fly to meet a specific need or manipulate an existing one. It can both map data into the mandatory California state legal forms as well as extract it from forms, as needed by the user. It can merge multiple PDFs into a single document in order to provide backup documentation and provide the versatility to handle any legal pleading requirements. Because it’s server-based, all forms reside on the server and can be customized from any workstation, and users of the system can access the application without having a standalone copy of PDF software installed on their PC. Since the application is server-based, system management and maintenance is also much simpler for LASOC staff to handle.
Tavares and his staff began development work for the new system in 1999 and it took about a year to prototype and build the first set of forms templates. It now takes only about six weeks for them to generate new document and process apps – which is important because the State of California generally updates its legal document formats and content about every two years, which makes this an ongoing need.
Given the power and flexibility of the system, LASOC staff began offering the application to other governmental agencies in California, and ultimately, in other states. To accomplish this the staff developed an Internet-based solution using the activePDF Portal™ product. This resulted in an Internet-enabled solution that lets users anywhere view, create, fill in, edit, save and download the proper PDF forms needed for responding to legal needs according to each state’s requirements – all from within common browser software running on any personal computer.
This Internet solution worked so well that LASOC has now created a separate corporation called LegalGenie, Inc., to offer the applications for use by justice systems around the country. LASOC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, so the agency created a separate legal entity for the revenue generated by out-of-state users. Any profits are used to fund continuing development of the system.
“Adding the browser capability means that users can access all the benefits of this system wherever they are located,” said Tavares, who now also serves as Vice President of Technology for LegalGenie. “With this functionality, these applications are now in use in the states of Virginia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Georgia, and North Carolina. All of those states are using this technology to prepare forms for legal services in their jurisdictions. They pay us to build, deliver and host that service and their users link to our servers via the Internet.”
Adding Tax Filing & More
In 2003, LASOC staff members noticed that many of their clients, as taxpayers, were eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit but were not taking advantage of that and other tax credits. In addition, many were frequently being charged hundreds of dollars by tax preparers for doing simple tax returns and thereby losing the bulk of their tax credits to those tax professionals in the form of fees.
“That prompted us to apply the same technology and create solutions called I-CAN!™ and I-CAN! Efile™ to help our clients with their tax preparations and filings,” Tavares noted. “We now offer federal and state certified tax preparation services that prepare, print and electronically file tax returns for federal return filers as well as state returns in California, Montana, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania – all using the same interview and PDF preparation of forms.”
With this expansion of its legal and tax services, LASOC was able to make more efficient use of its legal counsel and support staff and to offer more services to the general public. This, in essence, helped resolve many prioritization issues and enabled staff to help more people with existing staff resources.
“We realized that there was still a gap, in that the general public often needs the review of a legal professional prior to submitting documents to a court,” Tavares explained. “There are many times when submitting the wrong documents could create more problems than not submitting any at all. Using the I-CAN technology, once users have filled out their forms, they can then submit them and an attorney can remotely log onto the website and review and confer with the client to make sure that these forms are complete and appropriate for their situation.“
The activePDF Portal is critical to this enhancement because it means clients don’t have to install standalone PDF creation software or readers on their computers but can simply open the documents in a browser window. That also allows them to view the documents they’ve created prior to paying for the review and conferencing services. Once everything is approved and paid for, they can file their documents electronically and can print out any hard copies they need for file use.
The portal lets users anywhere view or modify their legal or tax PDFs while maintaining appropriate legal guidelines. Users can view, fill in, edit, save and download the forms directly from a standard browser – yet the Portal hosts the PDFs from behind the agency’s firewall to protect confidential documents from unauthorized distribution or tampering. The portal also allows users to interact in the same ways using smart phones or tablet devices.
The LASOC IT staff chose the activePDF Toolkit and Portal products because they were the most flexible in terms of what they wanted to do and they fit seamlessly within their existing technology platform. “We are a Microsoft technology house and Microsoft Corporation makes available very economical software development tools under their charity licensing program,” Tavares said. “We therefore wanted products that were compatible with the Microsoft technology structure. There were some other solutions available in the marketplace, but they were substantially more expensive to deploy, host and maintain than the server solutions from activePDF are.
“A big plus for us was that the technical support staff at activePDF was a tremendous help in creating these applications; their response time to support requests and development assistance was phenomenal,” he added.
In addition to the obvious benefits of systems such as those created by LASOC and now marketed by LegalGenie, one of the biggest benefits to users is the ability to access everything 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This is a wonderful feature because most of our clients are working people who aren’t able to come to legal aid organizations or court self-help centers during regular business hours,” Tavares added. “They simply have jobs to maintain – and many are working more than one job, so being able to do these tasks after hours and have continuous availability is extremely important. We even provide training in how to use PCs and people can use the computers in our offices, in libraries or other public places, or use their own PCs to prepare their own documents.”
The Bottom Line: It Just Works
The new LASOC technology offerings have truly broadened its ability to provide low- or no-cost service to hundreds of thousands more people while not overpowering their staff – and the same is now true in many states around the country.
“Keep in mind that in California alone, in as many as 80 percent of all family law cases, the parties to the cases are not represented by attorneys due to the cost of hiring attorneys and due to the overloaded nature of legal service providers, such as LASOC,” Tavares continued. “Before we created these technology solutions we could only help so many people, but we’re now able to assist many hundreds of thousands of people to prepare their legal pleadings in situations where there is a relatively small chance that they would have been able to do that through the services that are currently available. The multiplier effect is phenomenal.”
The numbers tell the story even better.
“We’ve done about 800,000 tax returns and we’ve helped prepare more than 186,000 legal pleadings so far, just using these systems in Southern California,” Tavares concluded. “That works out to several million document pages prepared since we launched the program. In many cases, there are only one or two pages per document but cases that are more complicated can result in larger numbers of document pages – such as a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, which has about 60 pages. Plus, we normally create about 12,000 tax documents per day during the annual spring tax season.
“It all adds up quickly, but now we can handle it,” he said.
MISSION VIEJO, CA – November 12, 2012 – activePDF has been honored once again by the readers of Visual Studio Magazine with a 2012 Readers’ Merit Award, in the category of PDF and Print/Preview applications, for the company’s suite of server-based PDF management applications. The PDF category was introduced in 2005 and activePDF is the only company to be recognized every single year.
“We are pleased to have received this recognition from Visual Studio readers because they’re a sophisticated audience who can truly evaluate enterprise solutions based on their practical experience using them every day,” said Tim Sullivan, activePDF, Inc President and CEO.
The 2012 Visual Studio Readers’ Choice Awards are testimony to the allegiance developers have for third party development tools, like activePDF, that make coding in the Microsoft IDE more productive. Year after year, these PDF solutions rank highest with developers because of their performance and reliability.
Headquartered in Mission Viejo, California, activePDF is a leading provider of PDF creation, conversion and development tools designed to meet the increased demand for automated electronic forms and content management in today’s key vertical enterprise markets. Founded in January of 2000, activePDF maintains a global distribution network to serve its more than 23,000 enterprise customers with more than 300,000 licenses in 90 countries. For additional information about the company or its full line of products, please visit the website at www.activepdf.com.
DocConverter Back-Up Notice
Effective December 12, 2012 the default conversion engine currently shipping with activePDF® DocConverter™ will be replaced with a new engine. As a courtesy to all our customers and partners, we are providing advance notice of this change with the recommendation that you download a back-up copy of the specific version of DocConverter being used in your installation. activePDF will no longer ship or supply DocConverter installers containing the older conversion engine after December 12, 2012.
Click on the link to the activePDF DocConverter download. The download will be available on the activePDF website until December 12, 2012.
Last Chance to Buy WebGrabber Enterprise 2009 for $999
Offer Good Until November 30, 2012
Last chance to upgrade to WebGrabber Enterprise 2009 before price goes up to $2499 MSRP.
activePDF WebGrabber WBE has been discontinued, and is no longer available. WebGrabber WBE now falls under the activePDF End of Life Policy.
As a current WebGrabber WBE customer, you can upgrade to WebGrabber Enterprise 2009 for only $999.
Web Grabber WBE Promotion
- Upgrade MUST be by November 30, 2012
- Upgrade for only $999
- Current WebGrabber Maintenance & Support contract required
- WebGrabber price increases to $2499 MSRP December 2012
- WebGrabber 2013 upgrade Free with current Maintenance & Support
- WebGrabber 2013 includes the new IE engine!
Contact Tara today to upgrade to WebGrabber Enterprise 2009 for only $999.
Call: Tara Waychoff
949-582-9002 Ext 2228