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Tips from the technology department of Appleby & Company.

Backfile conversions: Four approaches for success when scanning

We’ve seen more and more clients lately coming to us with requirements to have their old paper documents and records converted into a format that is electronic. This could include paper, microfilm, or even microfiche. The organizations range from school districts with personnel records going back to the 50’s, cities with old historical data going back to the 1800’s or even a police department looking to convert their homicide reports. This blog post will sum up the various options an organization has when it comes to a backfile conversion.


Full backfile

A full backfile conversion is the most expensive and thorough of the four options below, though it’s not always the number one priority for an organization. This is when you focus on all your records/documents/fiche/film and have them converted so that when you start with your new shiny document or content management solution, everything is electronic and accessible. The documents are imported or made available to you as a common format like a PDF or TIFF, or you can go one step further and have it imported directly into your current/new document or records management system. This eliminates time spent in the future searching or scanning these older records. Staff can focus on the present and the future and time will definitely be freed up when it comes to accessing information.


Partial backfile

A partial backfile conversion is when you designate a range or a set of documents to be converted, while ignoring others. For example, you might only want to scan records from 2011 and 2010, but ignore those that are from 2009 or prior (for now). I say for now as it’s very possible you will address those in the future, but your priority is only around the most recent (last 3 years) documents in this case.

An alternative to this is when you focus ONLY on certain document types (for example, homicide reports). You can also convert only a specific type of record, saying “We only want to convert our microfiche” while ignoring all physical paper records. While helpful, the items still in physical format may need to be accessed and this will result in the same time inefficiencies.


Day forward

A day forward conversion (like it sounds) focuses on all documents going forward. The idea here is that we are going to implement a technology solution to manage the records/documents and as our business goes on and new documents/records are created, we then have a strategy in place to address these. This could be having someone internally scanning fulltime (depending on your volume), or you can outsource this and have us pick up a box or two every month. Some of our clients do this now, even having staff primarily responsible for this preparation and making the docs available to us for pickup. Of the four, this tends to be the most popular as most organizations generally get started with technology first and then look to revisit their old paper docs/records and come up with an ideal strategy to address them.



Finally, an on-demand conversion is when there is no plan to scan or digitize older documents and/or records. However, when a document or file is requested or someone actually goes to the filing room, and finds the record, it’s then scanned. While this may be a common practice, it’s generally the least popular of these four as the challenges still exist with the paper records needing to be sought out and many resources are spent. Imagine if the document or record was offsite, and you had to pay a staff member to travel out there, search for it, and finally retrieve it. How likely is it that the same document or file will be requested again in the future? In other words, is it valuable to have such an ad-hoc approach compared to the other strategies available?


So while these methods all vary, there is generally always one that will be best for your organization. Some may go for the full backfile while others might focus on a set of years, a specific type of record, or perhaps just scan everything going forward and leave the past alone. Whatever you decide on, and whether you are in Fresno or Sacramento (or really anywhere in California) we are here to help.


Contact John-Paul Sansone at to learn more.

Westbrook File Magic Woes

Are you running an ancient version of Westbrook File Magic that severely needs upgrading?


Do you want to get the latest and greatest technology for managing your documents?


Do you want to have to have someone to call when things break?


Do you want an easy and cost effective transition to Fortis?


If so, contact us now for a free consultation to revitalize your old investment.

FortisBlue 1.5 Released

Westbrook Technologies is pleased to announce that FortisBlue 1.5 is now available. The 1.5 release includes the FortisBlue Drive, a virtual hard drive that provides integration with Microsoft® Office and most other business software. The release offers a FortisBlue SharePoint® Connector which is available at no charge for a limited time. Use the SharePoint Connector to access FortisBlue from SharePoint and view files with the FortisBlue viewer. Documents can be moved and copied between the two repositories.


As a part of the 1.5 release, the feature set of FortisBlue Workflow supports more complex workflows and is no longer a component of the core product. It is purchased separately. Customers who purchased FortisBlue prior to this release will continue to receive software upgrades to FortisBlue Workflow at no charge.


Other optional modules available with the 1.5 release are: FortisBlue Database Lookup and Update which enables users to extract data from Access, SQL and Oracle and other databases to update FortisBlue index data; and a connector for PlanetPress variable printing software.
FortisBlue 1.5 also offers a number of additional quality improvements to make your work lives easier.


Other new features in FortisBlue 1.5 include:


  • Related documents feature that enables mapping of related fields to link documents that are involved in one business process
  • Redesign of the FortisBlue Audit Log that includes the ability to audit using the
    document ID
  • Ability to import XML data
  • Free connector for scanning from Ricoh® Multifunction Devices that can be downloaded separately


For more information about FortisBlue and how it can improve office workflow contact us today.

Laserfiche Mobile for iPad Finally Released

The  anticipated followup to the native Laserifche iPhone app has finally been released. This update is free of charge for all current customers who already have Laserfiche WebAccess.

Laserfiche Mobile for iPad allows you to:

  • Search/View/Edit/Create files from anywhere your iPad has internet.
  • Instantly open Laserfiche e-mail links to a specific document. This can be used to advance workflows and review documents instantly.
  • Take pictures of receipts and other items for instant deposit to the repository.
  • Much much more.

Contact us today to learn more or schedule an upgrade.

Laserfiche 8.3.1 Server and Client Released

Laserfiche 8.3.1 Server and Client have been released. Among the fixes that our users will benefit most from.

  • Users with read access to a document can now properly copy pages from that document. (84984)
  • Laserfiche now supports a new trustee attribute: [Search]ShowDropDownLists. Use this attribute to control how the Laserfiche Client displays list fields in the Search Pane. Set the value to true to display list fields as a drop-down list. Set the value to false or remove the attribute to display list fields as a text box. If the text box is empty, placing the mouse cursor over the text box will display a tooltip of the list field values. (81417)
  • In certain situations, the Document Viewer may not properly detect that you have created or removed a document relationship in the Metadata pane, causing the Save toolbar button to remain disabled. This issue is now resolved. (85459)
  • Scanning now automatically selects a value in a dynamic field if there is only 1 possible value. (85416)
  • The ApplyToAllUsers registry value documented in Knowledge Base article 1012903 has been renamed to StoreSettingsInHKLM. (85812)
  • Snapshot now again tries to replace the %(PrintJobName) token in the Name option in the Laserfiche Snapshot print dialog box before sending the document to Laserfiche. (84588)

There are many more fixes, but these are the ones that in particular affected our users. For a full list, just head on to Laserfiche’s support site.

Fortis 2.5 Service Pack 3 Released

Westbrook Technologies recently released Fortis 2.5 Service Pack 3. We recommend that you apply it in order to stay current and take advantage of feature enhancements.

Here is a brief summary of what Service Pack 3 includes:

  • Resolves an issue that prevented Data Entry Assistant from working properly.
  • Captures Microsoft® Office® properties consistently when importing documents using Microsoft Office 2007/2010. IMPORTANT: You must install the latest updates for Microsoft 2007 and 2010.
  • Fortis DocAlert now runs on Windows 7 64-bit. See Service Pack 3 installation guide for instructions on updating Fortis DocAlert.
  • Addition of validation on dropdown lists in configuration. Values will be validated on save.
  • NOTE:  It is not necessary to run a Fortis workstation setup after installing Fortis 2.5 Service Pack 3 as long as a workstation setup was run after the installation of Fortis 2.5.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Service Pack 3, or would like to schedule an install do not hesitate to contact our support team.

Using Laserfiche Database To Find File Path

If you ever need to recover a file that has been deleted from Laserfiche using only the SQL and the file backups, without remounting the entire repository, here is one method to do it. First you need to know the entry id of the document, which you can get via audit trail, or by querying the database backup’s toc table:

select name, tocid, vol_id from toc where name like '%doug%'

(Where the name of the document I’m recovering has the word doug in it.)

Then, using the vol_id:

select * from vol where vol_id = 123456

This will show you the root path (volume) that this document was inside of.

Finally, using the entry id (aka, the tocid):

select storeid from doc where tocid = 654321

This will give you the location to each TIF file within your volume, but first you must decode it. This can be done with any decimal to hexadecimal converter (find this by Googling: decimal to hexadecimal converter)

So, if my storeid is 1856496 this returns the hex number 1c53f0. Break this up into 4 sets of 2. If you don’t have eight characters, add leading zeros.

So 1c53f0 becomes 001c53f0, which then gets broken up to 00, 1c, 53, and f0.

This is the key to the file system in Laserfiche. This file can be found (under your volume path) in the folder: 00\1c\53 (the first 3 sets).

Then the file will be named: 001c53f0.TIF

This is a good reverse engineering trick but, be warned, Laserfiche strongly recommends that you do not tamper with the file system that the software has constructed automatically. It can lead to corrupting your repository and making it no longer work properly.


Laserfiche Workflow Tokens

A powerful add-on to Laserfiche’s document management software is  Laserfiche Workflow.  In it, you can drag-and-drop actions that will manipulate your documents and metadata under a specific condition.

Laserfiche has included an action composed entirely of .Net code (either C# or VB), which allows you to extend your Workflow to the limits of programming.  Unfortunately, passing values back and forth from your script to the other built-in Workflow modules can be less than intuitive.  This is accomplished using Laserfiche tokens (similar to variables).

From within a C# script you can get the value of a token created from a previous activity like this:

string InvoiceNumber = TokenReplace(“%(GetFieldValue_OrderNumber)”);

Where %(GetFieldValue_OrderNumber) is the token identifier, that you can find by using the token picker.
If you would like to pass a value out of your C# script into a future activity, you can create it like this:

LFDocument doc = (LFDocument)this.Entry;
this.SetToken(“GUID”, doc.EntryGUID);

Here we are finding the GUID of the active Laserfiche document and passing it into a Token we are naming “GUID.”

Finally, Laserfiche supports multi-value tokens that behave similar to an array in programming.  These will allow you to pass more than one value into a “For Each” activity in workflow.  These can be created like this:

string[] theArr = {“a”, “b”, “c”};
this.SetToken(“myToken_All”, theArr);

This technique will only work when the token has a name ending in “_All” to idenitify it to Workflow as multi-value.
Properly using Tokens will allow you to expand your utilization of Workflow’s features, and get the most out of your document repository.

OpenVPN Site-to-Site

OpenVPN is a great way to setup secure site-to-site links between networks on different subnets.  I recommend pfSense; it’s an open source FreeBSD based firewall OS that can run on embedded hardware (ALIX boards from PC Engines) or x86 hardware.  In our current setup our OpenVPN server is an x68 install of pfSense running as a VMware Appliance under VMware ESXi 4.0.  You will need to use the free VMware converter to put the appliance on ESXi.  If you used static routes to the other subnets on your main router you would not have to replace your main router if you wanted to run pfSense on the side to make the OpenVPN link.  In our setup our client routers are ALIX boards in the various location running as the main router.   To get started I would use this document on pfSense’s website as I’m not going to go step by step but just point out a few problems I ran into.

Server Setup

Protocal: UDP
Dynamic IP: Checked
Local port: (1194 is the default)
Address pool: (Set this to a /24 subnet outside of the range of all your networks; this is used for the back end routing for OpenVPN)
Use static IPs: unchecked
Local network: (I leave this blank and use custom options)
Remote network: (I also leave this blank and use custom options)
Client-to-client VPN: Checked
Cryptography: BF-CBC (128-bit)
Auth metyhod: PKI
Shared key: Grayed out
CA Cert, Server Cert, Server Key, DH Paramers: (All filled out with the certs generated by the steps in the pfSense document)
DHCP-Opt.: (These settings don’t do anything in Site-to-Site links; I did how ever disable NetBIOS)
LZO compression: checked

Now for the server’s custom options; this will all depends on your setup and how many networks you are going to link.  Each one of these should be separated by a semicolon and I will try to explain each one.

//This is so the OpenVPN server will configure the IP for the interface if you want to be able to filter VPN trafic.
dev tun0;

//This is the WAN IP the OpenVPN server will use on the router; make sure you have a rule added or have Auto-added VPN rules enabled under advanced.

//You need one of these for ever subnet you have; this pushes the router out to the client routers so they know how to get to the other networks.  When the VPN link goes down these routes are automatically removed.
push “route xxx.10.1.0″;       //Server’s subnet
push “route xxx.0.1.0″;         //Client subnet
push “route xxx.0.2.0″;         //Client subnet
push “route xxx.0.3.0″;         //Client subnet
push “route xxx.0.4.0″;         //Client subnet
push “route xxx.168.0.0″;     //Client subnet

//There are for the server to add the routers to the client networks.  Make sure not to have the server’s local subnet here.
route xxx.0.1.0;
route xxx.0.2.0;
route xxx.0.3.0;
route xxx.0.4.0;
route xxx.168.0.0

Now to need to tell the server what subnet should go to what client.  This is done why using the Client-specific configuration.

Disabled: unchecked
Common name: (the name assigned to the client router in the cert.)
Blocked: unchecked
Push reset: unchecked
Interface IP: (Leave this blank)
Custom options:  iroute XXX.0.2.0

Now for the client settings.

Protocal: UDP
Server address: (WAN IP of the server)
Server port: (what ever you setup on the server)
Cert Settings: (Same as the server but of course you use a custom client cert and key)
LZO compression: Checked
Dynamic sourceport: (You can enable this is you want)
Custom options: dev tun0

On the client routers you will want to setup an entire domain override setting for the DNS Forwarder to send all DNS request for your internal domains to you Active Directory or DNS servers else ware on your network.  This will allow client computers on a client network to go to internal sites on your network.  Send all DNS in this setup is not recommended because if the link goes down no DNS means no internet.  Best to only redirect what you need.

In a later post I will explain how to send all traffic and DNS from a client site over the VPN connection and have it fail back to the local connection if the link goes down.

Laserfiche Desktop Document Shortcut

A little info on the not so well documented desktop document shortcuts that are new to Laserfiche 8.x.  These are shortcuts or links from email or your desktop that you can click on that will open up the document or folder in the laserfiche client.  Basicly a XML file with a “.lfe” extension that points to a Laserfiche EntryID (Found by right clicking and selecting properties for either a folder or document).


<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
<repository name=”RepositoryName”>
<entry id=”1″ />

Well, even less documented is the fact you can add a shortcut to a specific page by simply adding page=”2″ to the <entry> element.
Note: the page number is a 0 based index. page=”2″ is really page 3 of the document.

<entry id=”1″ page=”2″ />