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Using anchor elements can help with form recognition and identification. Learn how to add anchors to the document definition for fixed forms.

 

Hello. Today I'm going to show you how to use anchors within ABBYY FlexiCapture. Now anchors are important no matter the type of form we use. But today we're gonna focus on anchoring within fixed forms. Now if you recall a fixed form i s a form that doesn't change in its structure. So even though the content changes, the document structure does not and what you see in front of us is our document definition editor and within this document definition editor, this is where we set up the template, but there are two important buttons up here at the top left that will allow us to kind of navigate this editor a little bit. Now the first button is what we call static elements. And this is where we'll set up our anchors. And the other element is where we can set up our field information. Now we have other videos that show how to extract field information from fixed forms, but today we're gonna focus on the static elements.

Now what you see here, like I said, is a fixed form and fixed forms, have some pretty common things about them that we want to use to recognize details. Now it's very common that we would use common text maybe such as the text that's big and bold and beautiful appear at the top or even better, we use what are called anchor squares. And these anchor squares are very cool because they can do a couple of things. They can tell the software how the form is supposed to be recognized. In other words, its orientation, but also can even tell the software what kind of form it is. So even if we get some texts that is sometimes unreliable and quality, the design of where these specific anchors are, can tell the software what form it is. Also, it's very common that we could even use things like barcodes to determine the anchoring of a form.

So typically when we do anchoring, we like to ask the software to help us, and that's done by going to tools and then to auto detect objects by type. And you can see here I'm gonna select anchors. Now we can select all of them, but I would very, very highly suggest you don't do that and maybe you consider doing them one by one to see what the software will select. Like what we're going to do in this video. So I'm going to select anchor and then I'm going to hit, okay. Now I'm going to zoom in very, very, very close because there's actually a slight purple or pink element here that has been drawn around this anchor and actually every anchor will have them as I scroll down, you can see there's another one and every single black anchor, will have those. Now the reason why we want to tell the software to do that is because that's a very strong and confident anchor.

We know those are going to exist on the form. We can select other types of data. Separators, which are the lines, any kind of text or even that barcode at the bottom of this form would be a great option as well. If we want to use text, I would recommend that you not do it Auto detect. Instead, what you would use is these elements that are available to us. Here we have just creating those anchors, which are the squares; separators, which are the lines. I'm going to skip this one, come back to it and here's the barcode if we wanted to use a barcode. In today's demo also, we're going to use text on the form and what we said is that this text at the top is very strong, so we're just going to go ahead and highlight that text. Now it's very good practice that when we do anchor elements that we find multiple elements at the top, bottom, left, and right of a form.

So if there's multiple good reliable texts, we would actually want to tell the software that, Now you can see every element then has properties. And sometimes we may even tell the software to use this text to identify itself. And here we can actually have the software perform OCR real quick. Tell us what it believes is the text for that field. And then if we need to set some error handling here. So if there's, you know, a lack of quality on a few forms, we can even allow the software to be more generous in how it detects anchors or the texts there for that form. Now this is very important. There might be multiple pieces of common fields that we want to do here for texting, for first name or last name, we want to consider anchor text, but you would want to make sure that you only do good solid text here.

Now the last thing I'll show you that is very, very important to fixed forms and anchoring in general is what we call linear distortion. It sounds like a fancy term. It is a fancy term, but the term tells us how well the software is going to allow a form to grow or shrink as it's recognizing the document and what we would do is we would go to document definition properties, we'd go to advanced and you can see here are our linear image distortion settings here. Now out of the box, the software uses a 10% with and height distortion. I have been in many scenarios and common business forms where we increased that sometimes up to 30 or even 40% so if your anchors are strong and everything looks good on the form, but the form just can't seem to recognize itself using anchors, perhaps you may want to look at this linear distortion setting because this is how generous the software is being on its width and height settings here in recognition that requirements.

So that's a hint there. I've used that several different times and real business and it's very common that if a form looks greatly set up, we just need to modify some linear distortion settings so that the software recognizes. So to summarize, anchors are good way for the software to detect it. The ideal anchors are these black squares and multiple different places on a form. A barcode is very ideal or good common reliable text, typically at the top or bottom or both of a form is also helpful for anchoring. I hope you enjoyed this video. If you have any questions, feel free to ask questions. Thank you so much.

Information about the Author
Travis Spangler
About Me
Articles by Travis Spangler: Travis writes articles dealing with various technical aspects of document capture and forms processing. He is fluent in Microsoft.NET and holds several certifications including ABBYY FlexiCapture and IRISXTract. As general manager and sales director, he controls the daily operations as well as manages customer accounts to ensure both customers and prospects are receiving the very best from UFC, Inc. Travis has many years of experience with document capture software and content management systems. He also has wide areas of expertise including custom functions in ABBYY FlexiCapture, email API's, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, and many other applications and platforms. He has integrated Amazon Web Services EC2 instances with several applications including the company's CRM system.
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