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Frequently Asked Questions

This collection of frequently asked questions (FAQs) provides brief answers to many common questions about FormIDEA.

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What is FormIDEA?


FormIDEA is a Form Image Document Enabled Add-in for Microsoft Excel, which enables users to convert paper-based form documents into electronic workbooks and manage them with the combined power of FormIDEA and Excel.


FormIDEA is also an intelligent Form Image Data Entry Assistant for users who want to capture data on paper forms and store or transfer them in electronic formats using Excel.
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How does FormIDEA work?


FormIDEA for Microsoft Excel consists of two basic modules: FormDefine and FormIDEA add-in. The FormDefine module is used to train your computer on the form type you want to process, define data items you want to read, set validation rules on each data item, and map the data items to the workbook you want to create in Excel. The FormIDEA add-in module, on the other hand, is built as an imaging automation server controlled by Excel, which adds intelligent forms processing services, such as capturing and verifying data, indexing and reviewing form documents, to Excel and enables you to process document forms directly in Excel.


If you want to try out the real FormIDEA application, click here to download the demo. It will help you appreciate how FormIDEA is integrated seamlessly in Microsoft Excel and how it behaves.
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What intelligent features does FormIDEA add to Microsoft Excel?


FormIDEA provides the following advanced document imaging features to enable the incorporation of Excel functionality with intelligent forms processing:

  • Form identification

  • Form registration (auto deskew, rotate, scale and align)

  • Data field image auto-tracking

  • Check box recognition (OMR)

  • Barcode recognition

  • Linear mark recognition (LMR)

  • Optical character recognition (OCR)

  • Data entry verification

  • Form image document retrieval and review

These special features make it possible for Office users to capture data from paper forms into Excel directly.
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What type of forms can FormIDEA process?

FormIDEA can process any forms that have valid line graphics structures, i.e. forms that have some horizontal and/or vertical lines. In other words, FormIDEA doesn't treat pure text documents, such as newspaper articles, as forms.
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What language versions of Office and Windows does FormIDEA support?

Currently, FormIDEA 4.0 supports English versions of Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7 with Office XP/2003/2007. FormIDEA 4.1 supports Office 2010. FormIDEA should also work well with other local language versions of Office and Windows, but they are not officially supported directly by us. If you are running a non-English version of Office/Excel, we suggest that you download and install a free evaluation trial of FormIDEA to verify if it works properly on your system before making purchase decision.
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What's new in FormIDEA 4?


Besides all capabilities supported in the previous version (such as Optical Mark Recognition, Barcode Recognition and Linear Mark Recognition, etc.), FormIDEA 4 includes the following new features and enhancements:

  • All FormIDEA version 4 editions support the latest version of Windows 7. FormIDEA 4.1 (Standard Edition) supports the latest Office version 2010 with more intuitive new ribbon UI.

  • Significant capability enhancement with the latest Office Excel 2007/2010 The maximum capacity of data fields to be captured on a form is increased from 256 to 16K - more than enough for processing many complex and multi-page forms.

Additional new features added in FormIDEA 4.0 Professional Edition:

  • New capability of performing OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for capturing alphanumerical data on scanned forms.  Text fields in multiple fonts and multiple languages can be automatically recognized, including text in East Asian languages.

  • Support for multiple-page forms processing efficient page batch scanning and indexing with automatic multiple-page merge feature.

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How to choose FormIDEA editions, Standard or Professional?


The FormIDEA 4 product line includes FormIDEA 4.1 Standard (for Office 2010 only), FormIDEA 4.0 Standard and FormIDEA 4.0 Professional. Both Standard & Professional editions deliver powerful tools tailored to meet a variety of forms processing needs for business and data processing professionals. You can easily determine which edition is best for you by the type of forms and data you want to process and the version of Office you currently use.


Features 4.0 / 4.1 Standard 4.0 Professional
Form identification
Form registration
Optical mark recognition (OMR)
Barcode recognition
Linear mark recognition (LMR)
Batch mode processing
Data image field auto-tracking
Data entry verification and validation
Form archiving, retrieval and search
Visual Basic programming interface
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)  
Multiple-page forms processing  


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What is the functional difference between FormIDEA TAE and FormIDEA 4 full version?

FormIDEA TAE is specially designed for processing, scoring and analyzing test assessment forms with OMR capability. It provides pre-designed answer sheets for you to print so it's very easy to use (no form design and template setup required).

The FormIDEA full version allows users to define their own forms through the FormDefine module. It has OMR, OCR, barcode and linear mark recognition capabilities. Besides educational tests, FormIDEA full version can be used to capture and analyze data for other applications.

The functional difference is summarized in the following table:

Features FormIDEA TAE

FormIDEA 4

(full version)

Form Types
Pre-designed test forms (answer sheets)
Pre-designed form templates & User designed forms
Maximum Data Items Captured Per Page 154 data items
(200 questions)
Up to 16K (Excel 2007 column limit)
Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Yes Yes
Barcode Recognition
No Yes
Linear Mark Recognition (LMR)
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) No Yes (4.0 Pro)
Batch Processing Yes
Data Validation Yes Yes
Image Search & Retrieval
Image Archiving
Analysis Menu
Survey & Grade
FormDefine Module
Not included Included
Visual Basic API No Yes

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We want to be able to process both true-false and multiple-choice questions. If use the pre-designed answer sheets in TAE, how does that work?


FormIDEA TAE provides many types of pre-designed answer sheets for tests that can have up to 25, 50, 100, 150 and 200 questions, and each question can have up to 5 choices (A,B,C,D,E). You can use the first two choices for the true-false type of questions, e.g. A - True; B - False.
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If we purchase FormIDEA TAE now, can I upgrade from TAE to the full version later?


Yes. Currently, TAE is offered through the site license subscription with special educational pricing. Schools may acquire additional licenses for full version with additional FormIDEA educational price discount.
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Do you have a discount rate for schools or school districts?


Yes, we offer volume and site license discounts to allow K-12 schools, colleges and universities to license quantities of our software products at reduced price. For detailed site licensing information, please contact our sales at
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Can we have our school logo printed on answer sheets?


Yes, if your school purchased FormIDEA TAE site license. We can provide your school with customized answer sheet templates that use your school or district logo.
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What scanners can I use with FormIDEA?


You can use any scanners that can produce black-white images to scan your form documents. In fact, since FormIDEA has intelligent form registration and noise reduction features, you can use an inexpensive scanner without worrying about the poor document alignment and image quality it may cause during the scan. For low volume scanning, most desktop scanners with ADF (automatic document feeder) should work well with FormIDEA.
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What scan resolution should I use to scan forms?


The scan resolution you set should be good enough for document viewing & data verification purpose, which is normally set from 150 dpi to 300 dpi range, depending on the form document size. Also, if you need to read barcodes from scanned forms, make sure that the scan resolution is set properly to reserve barcode information in bar images (you can run a few tests to determine if the resolution you set is good enough). However, the scan resolution for scanning document forms does not have to be the same as that used for scanning the reference form. FormIDEA can match the difference in resolution automatically to capture data.
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What image formats does FormIDEA support?


FormIDEA can read form image files in the following formats:

  • TIFF (with CCITT Group 3 or Group 4 compression)

  • PCX

  • BMP

Forms must be scanned into black/white (binary) images for processing.
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We need to process forms that have check box items. Can FormIDEA read check boxes on forms?


Yes. FormIDEA can locate and read check box items via a built-in OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) engine that allows check marks to be converted to checked values automatically without typing. It reads "Single" and "Single Choice" or "Multiple Choice" group check boxes (with or without borders).
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We have a few barcodes printed on forms vertically, can FormIDEA read them?


Yes. FormIDEA can scan and read barcodes printed in all four different orientations: left-right, top-down, right-left and bottom-up. Also, barcode image skew will be compensated automatically.
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Our problem in barcode indexing is that the barcode types are determined by our local branch offices and they may choose to use different barcode symbols on the same type of forms. Can your FormIDEA help?


Maybe. FormIDEA can read barcode symbols in 8 different (most common) types automatically, including Codabar, Code39, Code128, Int2of5, EAN8, EAN13, UPCA, UPCE, and it can detect anyone of these types automatically without any pre-determined type information. If you are not sure which type of barcode would appear, you can specify the barcode type as UNKNOWN (in the reference form you created using the FormDefine module) and let FormIDEA read it for you. However, the current version of FormIDEA does not support "floating" barcode zones. This means that although you are allowed to change the barcode type, the barcode must still be printed within the same data zone.
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What is LMR?


LMR stands for Linear Mark Recognition, which is typically used in survey or assessment forms to collect users' response. A linear mark consists of a horizontal line for an item range and a user-drawn vertical bar that indicates where the user feels within the given range. 


FormIDEA supports LMR (refer to Linear Mark Recognition for detailed description and examples of using linear marks in customer survey and medical treatment forms).
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Does FormIDEA perform ICR for hand-written data?


No. FormIDEA does not use ICR as default data entry mode for text data. Instead, it provides image assisted and "automated data image tracking" mode for you to fast key in what you see on screen, which has been proven as most cost-effective and accurate way for hand-written data filled on existing forms.


ICR is not built directly in FormIDEA since the accuracy of ICR heavily depends on users' written style, and in general, it's much lower than OCR for machine-printed text. User should know that virtually all ICR for forms are custom jobs, which means that in most cases it does not guarantee a boost in forms processing efficiency or cost-reduction unless you can customize your application and redesign your form documents to fit specific requirements on a specific ICR engine. As ICR is getting smarter, our product strategy is to provide good plug-in modules that can be utilized when needed, rather than build a fixed ICR engine in the product, that may not be useful or cost-effective for everyone.
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Does FormIDEA support data transfer to other database applications?


Yes. The form books created by FormIDEA are in standard Excel file format and therefore, can be transferred to any database applications that support Excel file format.


Furthermore, FormIDEA provides Visual Basic programming interface, which allows you to integrate the FormIDEA Add-in module as a data collection component with other Office components seamlessly. You can build your custom solutions with FormIDEA to transfer data collected in Excel workbooks to many databases, including Microsoft SQL server.
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Does FormIDEA support Client-Server environment?


Yes, you can scan and store all form documents in a central server and process them on multiple client machines via network connection, i.e. client machines can run FormIDEA to process or retrieve form documents stored in server simultaneously.
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We'd like to manage our form documents using Excel electronic workbooks. How to determine the disk space we need for storing document images?


The disk space needed for storing form images depends on the size and type of the form document, image format and scan resolution. On average, it takes about 50KB to store a full page form document scanned in 300 dpi in TIFF format with compression, or roughly speaking, it takes about 0.5GB to store 10,000 full page images.
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How can I retrieve form image documents and review them in Excel?


To retrieve a form document, you can open the form book in Excel and make a query with a criterion to find the form entry, then highlight the entry, select the "Review" mode and click the "Process" button on the FormIDEA add-in toolbar. The form document image will be retrieved and displayed in the FormIDEA server's window. To further locate a data item on the document image, you can just position the cursor to the data item in the form book and click the mouse button.
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Do I need to purchase the AccuForm engine to run FormIDEA?


No, you do not need to purchase additional AccuForm engine run-time license to run FormIDEA. FormIDEA is a cost-effective forms processing application we developed for Office users, which already has an AccuForm engine built in.
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How can I purchase FormIDEA?


You can order FormIDEA products (FormIDEA Add-in and FormDefine) directly online. Just follow these steps:

  • Fill in and send the online product order from. If you have additional questions about the product you order, please contact us.

  • You will be emailed an order confirmation number from us.

  • Make your payment by following the payment instruction. The product(s) will be shipped to you promptly after the payment transaction is done.

For other purchasing and payment options, click here.


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