Unfortunately we are still living in a paper world. Formation was created to help with the transition to paperless. Formation uses electronic PDF paper forms, rather than HTML or similar layouts, as the underlying medium of communication. PDF forms can easily be created using Adobe Acrobat or other 3rd party tools. Formation allows them to be edited on the iPAD tablet.

There are certain occupations that still require a significant amount of paperwork to be filled in. In some cases multiple forms containing largely the same information need to be redundantly completed resulting in a big waste of time. Consider a seller of home health care equipment or a home health care worker. in some cases 5 or 6 different forms need to be completed for insurance compliance and other reasons. Time spent filling out forms is time not being spent selling or delivering services.picture1

With Formation, the salesman on the road can reduce the amount of time they spend on paperwork, and have it kept in an electronic and green friendly format. Salesmen create PDF forms using Adobe Acrobat or some similar tool. the form is then emailed to the salesman's iPAD device and stored. Once on the iPAD, forms can be grouped together into portfolios of blank forms. When the salesman fills in fields in one form in the portfolio, all other forms in the portfolio that have the same field name (LAST_NAME, STREET_ADDR) are automatically filled in. The completed forms, which remain as printable PDF files, can then be emailed back to filing or printing.

It's a simple concept really but a difficult project to build. The primary difficulty was that there are really no useful Apple APIs for editing PDF files and there is not much out on the web. So a customer Objective-C PDF parser needed to be built. To get some sense of what this parser has to deal with, take a look at the specification.

Once the parser was built, the rest was easy. Here is the design document.