Alternatives to OmniForm?
May 30, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering what alternatives to Nuance OmniForm are out there. They haven't updated the software in many years. The "standard version" costs $99 and the "premium version" costs $499. Holy crap!

Basically I'm interested in being able to pretty easily create electronic forms that are the digital equivalent to paperwork that can be printed, emailed, faxed, etc. Some of them might contain simple math (like on an invoice).

My problems with OmniForm are that the layout tools, interface, and documentation are really poor. It can be tough for example to get various items aligned properly.

I'm interested in alternatives for both Mac and Windows. Free, as always is best, but around the $100 mark would be ok as well.

From the limited results that google searching has found for me, it looks like I can somehow do this with a PDF?

posted by reddot to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Acrobat Pro is pretty expensive ($450) , but it does automatic form recognition and allows for basic mathematical operations, I think.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:45 AM on May 30, 2009

Best answer: You can do this with a PDF, although the math is very limited (addition, multiplication, averages, maximums, minimums). On older machines, complex forms with lots of math can make entering data very slow. Now, on to the options.

The educational version of Acrobat is $99, so that might work, depending on whether you qualify for it.

NitroPDF can do form creation and editing, and it's $99 for the regular version. It's a Windows program.

PDFpenPro is a Mac program that does form creation and editing. It's $99.

Both NitroPDF and PDFpenPro have free trials, so try them out and see if they fit your needs.
posted by jedicus at 9:52 AM on May 30, 2009

Oh, I should mention that at least with Acrobat you can either use the simplified FormCalc language to define the form calculations or you can use JavaScript. I would tend to warn against JavaScript, though, as it has been responsible for a lot of security holes in PDF software lately. Many organizations and users turn off the JavaScript functionality entirely to avoid PDF-based viruses, so they would not be able to use your forms without a lot of hassle.
posted by jedicus at 9:57 AM on May 30, 2009

Zoho, an online solution, is free for personal use. Their fees for businesses are here.

Simple Invoices is another web-based solution, open source/free.

Both allow you to export to a variety of formats -- including .pdf.

On the Mac side, there's Billings at $40.00, GrandTotal at $50.00, Invoice 3 at $99.00 and a host of others. They each have their quirks, so you'll probably want to demo them before laying down any cash.

I haven't kept up with the Windows side of things so I can't help you there, but if you do any more searching online, you might get better results using the phrase "invoicing software". Try looking at reviews from FileForum or Versiontracker. Good luck!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:39 PM on May 30, 2009

Response by poster:
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. For PDF-based solutions, does anyone know if they are interoperable? For example, if I create a PDF form on Nitro and then get a Mac and PDFpenPro, would I have to totally recreate things, or would I be able to edit the form (as in add some new fields or change old ones, etc)?
posted by reddot at 11:23 AM on June 4, 2009

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