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Communications of the ACM

Form management


This paper consists of three interrelated parts. In the first part forms are intoduced as an abstraction and generalization of business paper forms. A set of facilities for the manipulation of forms and their contents is outlined. Forms can be created, stored, found, viewed in different media, mailed, and located by office workers. Data on forms can also be processed in a completely integrated way. The facilities are discussed both abstractly and in relation to a prototype system. In the second part a facility is outlined for the specification and implementation of automatic form procedures. These procedures specify actions on forms which are triggered automatically when certain preconditions are met. The preconditions, actions, and specification method are based on forms. The discussion is centered on our implementation of such a specification framework. Finally, in the third part, techniques for the analysis of office flow are specified. An algorithm is outlined for the categorization of forms into classes depending on the local routing and actions on the forms. In this way, we can obtain the paths that forms take and analyze the system for correctness and loading characteristics.

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