MetaServer > Help > How Does MetaServer Work?

How Does MetaServer Work?

MetaServer consists of the MetaServer service (the server), Administration Client and Operator Client:

The MetaServer Administration Client gives access to all functionality. This includes access the configuration of the Workflows, server status, error management, client settings, etc.

The MetaServer Operator Client hides all administrative functions to avoid accidental changes to the configuration. It can be used for validation, organizing and error management. Through the Administration Client, you can configure the operator clients and hide certain functions to simplify the user interface even further.

MetaServer watches folders and email inboxes and will process scanned PDF files and electronic PDF email attachments. It auto-detects the PDF type of each document. If it detects an electronic PDF, it will extract data by accessing the digital text without passing through OCR. If it detects a scanned PDF (image PDF), it will automatically switch to using OCR.

MetaServer dynamically extracts relevant data from imported PDF files (metadata) using text extraction and easy to configure rules. You can export the metadata to an export destination of choice such as Email, Folder Structure, FTP Server, Database etc.. With the Export to Folder action, you can automatically create a folder structure and name PDF files using any combination of extracted metadata.

MetaServer runs as a service on both Windows Server (Server 2008 and higher) and Windows Desktop (Windows 7 or higher).

 

It can perform the following functions:

– Import PDF files from folders and subfolders and other Workflows

– Watch email inboxes and import PDF attachments

– Automatic Document Separation and Page Processing based on keywords, blank pages, bar codes etc.

– Organize documents using the Organizer to visually check and correct document separation points

– Metadata Extraction based on rules

– Lookup of additional metadata from an external database

– Scale documents, delete pages

– Convert documents to multipage TIFF and convert all or specific pages to black and white

– Convert all or specific pages to searchable PDF

– Sending the PDF or TIF as an attachment to an email

– Metadata Validation with Validation using the MetaServer Operator Client

– Export to a File server, FTP server, Database or another Workflow

Documents are
scanned to a folder or emails arrive in a
watched email inbox
MetaServer automatically processes these documents Optionally, use the
Operator Client(s)
to organize and validate
the documents
The documents and/or data are exported to the specified destination(s)

To get a functional overview, you can refer to the MetaServer Product Page.

If you want to become a MetaServer expert, you can download a free training tutorial.

01 Installing MetaServer

01 Where to get it and how to install it?

To download MetaServer, go to the CaptureBites MetaServer product page and click the “Download MetaServer” button.

This installer includes the latest version of MetaServer, the Administration Client, the Operator Client, sample images and demo workflows to try the functionality.

When downloading is complete, launch the installer.

If you just want to install MetaServer without any of the sample images and workflows, disable the “Install configuration files” option in the installer.

You can view the contents of the installer by pressing the Contents button.

TIP: To open the Contents window in custom mode, hold the Shift + Control key on your keyboard and press the Contents button. In this mode, you can select specific applications, workflows, etc. to be installed.

02 MetaServer – Demo Workflows

Under the Configuration files, you will find 8 different demo workflows to help you get acquainted with MetaServer and its functions.

A quick overview of these demo workflows:

1) CB – CMR

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\CMR

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\CMR

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\CMR

Import French shipping documents and extract the barcode value (Code à barre), ZIP code (Code postal), date and CMR number, regardless where they are located.

This workflow is a good example on how to use the Find Word and Word Group rules.

2) CB – CUPOM FISCAL

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\CUPOM FISCAL

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\CUPOM FISCAL

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\CUPOM FISCAL

Import Brazilian receipts and extract the registration number (CPF), VAT number (CNPJ), transaction date and total amount, regardless where they are located.

This workflow is a good example on how to use the Find Word based on check sums feature to extract the CNPJ and CPF numbers.

3) CB – DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Import from Workflow
– Extract
– Validate
– Distribute
– Export to Workflow
– Export to Email

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\DOCUMENT SEPARATION

Import Landlord forms, extract the document type, initiator, property address, Landlord and Tenant name, and distribute the document to the next workflow, depending on the document type, for specialised extraction.

The documents get exported to the following workflows:
CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – AMOUNT
CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – DATE
CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – INTENT TO ENTER
CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – SUBJECT

This workflow is a good example on how to use the Distribute action in combination with the Export to Workflow action.

 

4) CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – AMOUNT

Uses following actions:

– Import from Workflow
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder
– Export to Workflow

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Watched Workflow:
CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\LANDLORD FORMS

This workflow watches the CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION workflow using the Import from Workflow action.

Inherits the already extracted values from the previous workflow and extracts the amount on the documents.

5) CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – DATE

Uses following actions:

– Import from Workflow
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder
– Export to Workflow

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Watched Workflow:
CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\LANDLORD FORMS

This workflow watches the CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION workflow using the Import from Workflow action.

Inherits the already extracted values from the previous workflow and extracts the date on the documents.

6) CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – INTENT TO ENTER

Uses following actions:

– Import from Workflow
– Extract
– Validate
– Distribute
– Export to Folder
– Export to Workflow

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Watched Workflow:
CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\LANDLORD FORMS

This workflow watches the CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION workflow using the Import from Workflow action.

Inherits the already extracted values from the previous workflow and extracts the “Reason” using Mark Detection. If the reason is “other”, the operator needs to enter the value manually during validation.

7) CB – DOCUMENT CLASS – SUBJECT

Uses following actions:

– Import from Workflow
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder
– Export to Workflow

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION

Watched Workflow:
CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\LANDLORD FORMS

This workflow watches the CB – DOCUMENT SEPARATION workflow using the Import from Workflow action.

Inherits the already extracted values from the previous workflow and extracts the subject and summary of the letter.

8) CB – DPE (Diagnostic de Peformance Energetique)

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DPE

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\DPE

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\DPE

Separate documents holding multiple French energy performance reports and show the separation in Organizer. Single reports go directly to Extract.

Extract the registration number (REF. ADEME) and find the associated address through database look-up.

9) CB – FLOATING DATA

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Import Email
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder
– Forward Email

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\FLOATING

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\FLOATING

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\FLOATING

An ideal workflow to familiarize yourself with MetaServer as a first-time user.

Import attorney letters from folder (scanned PDF) and email (e-PDF). Extract the account number, date and reference number, regardless where they are located.

10) CB – INSPECTION REPORTS

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Import Email
– Separate Document
– Organize
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\DOCSEP – SETUP

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\DOCSEP

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\DOCSEP

Import inspection reports from folder (scanned PDF holding multiple reports) and email (e-PDF). Automatically separate files holding multiple inspection reports using keywords. Extract the report number, inspector name and total due value.

This workflow is a good example on how you can use the document separation feature.

You can configure a more advanced version of this workflow step-by-step, adding the use of database look-up and configuring index files, by following our free training tutorial.

11) CB – INVOICES US

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Import Email
– Organize
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Email
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\INVOICES

Watched Folders:
C:\META-IN\MFP\INVOICES\SINGLE
&
C:\META-IN\MFP\INVOICES\MULTI

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\INVOICES

Extract data from US invoices. These can range from e-PDF to scanned PDF, multiple invoices in 1 PDF, etc.

This workflow makes use of most of the MetaServer Extract, Lookup and Validate rules. It also uses the Export to Email action.

12) CB – PARKING VIOLATIONS

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\PARKING VIOLATIONS

Watched Folders:
C:\META-IN\MFP\PARKING VIOLATIONS

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\PARKING VIOLATIONS

Extract data from Parking Violation Tickets reading the check boxes and detect if the ticket is signed or not.

This workflow is a good example on how to use the Mark Detection rule and to see how page registration works for perfect mark detection on incorrectly aligned documents.

13) CB – QUESTIONNAIRES

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\QUESTIONNAIRE

Watched Folders:
C:\META-IN\MFP\QUESTIONNAIRE

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\QUESTIONNAIRE

Extract the answers from training questionnaires.

This workflow is a good example on how to use the Mark Detection rule and make use of red drop out color on your forms to get a highly accurate mark detection result.

14) CB – SHIPPING

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Email
– Export to Folder

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\SHIPPING

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\SHIPPING

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\SHIPPING

Import shipping documents and extract the document type, barcode and PO number. Export to folder, but export exceptions to email.

This workflow makes use of the Extract Barcode rule.

15) CB – STATISTICS

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Import from Email
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder
– Export to Database

Find the sample documents in:
C:\META-DEMO\MFP\STATISTICS

Watched Folder:
C:\META-IN\MFP\STATISTICS

Find output after processing in:
C:\META-OUT\MFP\STATISTICS

Import inspection reports and extract the report number, inspector name (using a DB), telephone number, inspection date and total due.

Export to a folder AND export all the extracted data + extra metadata to an MS-Access database.

This workflow is a very good introduction to the Export to Database action.

16) TEMPLATE WORKFLOW

Uses following actions:

– Import from Folder
– Extract
– Validate
– Export to Folder

When making a new workflow, you can “copy from” this basic workflow to use as a template. See screen shot.

The template comes with a predefined set of fields, and actions to import from folder, extract, validate and export to a folder. Adjust the settings to your needs.

03 Starting MetaServer

After the installation is complete, the MetaServer service will start automatically.

If you want to see the status of the server, open the MetaServer folder on your desktop and run the Info program.

Next, we launch the MetaServer Administration Client.

01 Activating MetaServer

If your MetaServer is unlicensed, the following window will pop-up with 3 options:

1) Request an Activation Code: choose this option if you don't already have a valid activation code. This opens our website with a Request for an Activation Code form (see screenshot on the right, click the image to enlarge). You can choose if you want to request a trial license or if you want to activate your purchased license. Fill out the rest of the required fields and press Submit. We will email your activation code within 24 hours.

2) I have an Activation Code: choose this option if you already have a valid activation code for MetaServer. This will open the Licenses tab where you will enter your activation code. If you want to to find your computer ID later, check out this guide.

3) Cancel: use this option to use MetaServer in unlicensed mode. Unlicensed mode means you can create workflows, but you can't use them in run time. The activation window will always pop-up when opening Validation mode, so you still have the option to request an activation code or enter a production license code in the Licenses tab.

When you have an activation code, enter it in the Activation code input box and press the Activate button.

After a successful activation, you will see the activated module with a “Production” or “Expires on [Date]” status, if the production license is limited in time.

02 Choosing a MetaServer

 
The first time you run the client, it will look for available MetaServers. This can take a few seconds.

If there are multiple MetaServers available, select the MetaServer you want to connect to:

Next time you open the MetaServer Administration or Operator client, it will immediately connect to the last selected MetaServer.

TIP: When you open the MetaServer Administration or Operator Client, and there is no MetaServer found, follow this help guide.

The MetaServer Administration Client is used to check MetaServer’s server status, configure and test workflows, error management, etc..

You access these settings using the different tabs in the Administration Client’s Toolbar:

Server
Workflows
Queues
Organizer
Validation
Errors

 

You can use the Backstage button to check the MetaServer licenses and the current MetaServer Client’s version. 

By default, the Licenses tab is selected when going backstage.

03 Checking your MetaServer Server and Administration / Operator Client Version

 
If you want to check the current version of your MetaServer Server and current MetaServer Client (in this case, the Administration Client), open the About tab.

Press the Version History button to open CaptureBites’ online version history page containing details of each published version of MetaServer.

04 What are Workflows?

A workflow is like a configuration to process a certain document type. It’s a combination of actions and rules to process documents and starts with one or more import actions followed by a combination of separation, organizing, processing, extraction and validation actions to exit the workflow through one or more export actions.

Typically, you have a workflow per document type. For example, a Vendor Invoice workflow, a POD workflow, a Delivery Ticket workflow and so on. Multiple workflows can run on the same server at the same time.

You configure your workflows in the MetaServer Administration Client under the Workflows tab.

TIP: Please refer to the help pages for a more in-depth explanation of all the actions and rules. We also have a MetaServer tutorial available which includes a complete workshop to learn how to create a workflow from scratch.

05 Workflow Setup

In a Workflow, you set up how your documents are going to be processed. You do this using different actions in a certain sequence. Each action has its own setup and conditions, which allows flexible chaining of each action.

01 Actions

A short summary of the available actions:

– Import Email: import email from a specified inbox (using IMAP).
– Import from Folder: import PDF files from a specified folder and its sub folders.
– Import from Workflow: import PDF files and metadata from another workflow. This action is the entry point for another workflow’s Export to Workflow action.

– Separate Document / Process Page: automatically separate documents and delete or rotate pages based on rules.
– Organize: send the file to the organizer to visually separate the document, edit the order of pages, delete pages, etc.
– Extract: define a sequence of rules to extract and format data.
– Validate: based on the validation rules, send invalid documents to the validation viewer to complete or check the data.
– Distribute: based on the value of a specific field, you can send a document to a different action in the workflow.

– Delete Page(s): automatically delete certain pages of the document (e.g. delete separator sheets)
– Scale Page(s): automatically scale a document to a certain resolution and set the JPEG compression level.

– Convert to Format: convert specific pages of your document to black & white or convert your document to a multipage TIFF.
– Convert to Searchable PDF: Convert scanned PDFs to Searchable PDF files. You can make specific pages pages searchable or the complete document.

– Export to Email: send the result to a specified email address.
– Export to Folder: send the result to a folder or FTP Server.
– Export to Database: send the result to a file server, FTP server and database.
– Export to Workflow: send the result to another workflow for further processing. The receiving workflow will need an Import from Workflow action to function as an entry point.
– Export to SAP R/3: send the result to the ERP software SAP R/3.

– Forward Email: forward the original imported email including its original body text and attachments to a specified email address.

The example workflow below shows what a complete workflow looks like in MetaServer.

There are 5 columns in the workflow action list:

– Action: shows the type of action.
– Settings: shows a short summary of the settings for each action.
– Condition: there can be multiple outcomes of an action, for example an imported email can be valid (has attachments) or rejected (no attachments).
– Next action: after each action you define the next action. For example, after importing an email, the attachments are sent to extraction to extract some key data.
– Description: shows that action’s description (if applicable).

Some actions allow you to choose different next actions depending on their conditions. Press the dropdown arrow on the left side of these actions to expand them.

To construct a workflow, you simply add actions using the Add button.

TIP: any actions added after your current action will automatically be connected to each other. You can manually adjust the next actions.

TIP: you can visualize your workflow by pressing the Show Graph button.

This will open the Workflow Graph window:

02 Making a new workflow

To add a new workflow, you press the “+” button right from the workflow drop down list.

Next, you enter the name and a description of your new workflow.

If you don’t want to configure your workflow from scratch, you can copy from an existing workflow and use it as a template, like the basic “TEMPLATE WORKFLOW”.

03 Email Alert – Setup

The Email Alert function will notify one or more people in case of errors. When making a new workflow, you need to change the Email Alert settings to your own email address and SMTP Server settings. 

Press the Email Alert button under Settings, this will open the setup window:

1) SMTP Server: Replace the placeholder CaptureBites SMTP Server settings with your own SMTP Server details. The default SMTP Server is only meant for demo purposes and testing.

Your SMTP Server settings can be found by contacting your IT department or through your email provider. SMTP settings for Gmail can be found as step 2 here. For Office 365, you can find the SMTP settings here.

TIP: If you want to use Gmail as your SMTP server, first login to Gmail on the station running MetaServer via a browser. In that way, the IP address of that station becomes white listed on the Google SMTP servers and you can send emails from MetaServer.

Gmail’s security strategy changes frequently and Gmail also sets limits to the number of emails you can send through smtp.gmail.com. So, we advise to only use smtp.gmail.com for tests or if the number of emails sent by MetaServer is limited.

2) Email Header: edit your email header information. You can optionally specify the display name of your recipient by separating it with a comma “,”.
For example: ed.elric@company.com,Edward Elric.

You can also enter one or more recipients by separating them with a semi-colon “;” or colon “:”.
For example: al.elric@company.com,Alphonse Elric;winrockbell@company.com,Winry Rockbell

Some more examples of valid email addresses:
– timmarcoh@company.com
– timmarcoh@company.com:trisha.elric@company.com
– timmarcoh@company.com:trisha.elric@company.com;rthomas@company.com

3) Test: press the Test button to check if your connection is successful. If you have specified yourself as the recipient, check your inbox for a confirmation mail.

NOTE: you can also disable the Email Alert feature by unchecking the “Enabled” checkbox in the top left corner of the setup window.

TIP: for more information about the other buttons under the Workflows tab, please refer to the Workflows online help page.

06 Server

Under the Server tab, you can control the server (pause, resume and restart) and check the status of MetaServer. You can also set the queue limit, set up Network folders and hide certain functions in the Operator Clients.

For a more in-depth guide through the Server tab, please refer to the Server online help page. 

Network Folders make it possible to define user credentials for shared network folders. This gives MetaServer access to import and export to these shared network folders. For a more in-depth guide on how to set up Network Folders, follow this guide.

The information refreshes every 10 seconds. If you want to instantly refresh the data, press the Refresh List button.

Here you can see when each action has been last applied…

…and when the Server was last (re)started:

The colored blocks signify the action’s health:

Green = running
Yellow = paused
Orange = non-critical error that will be auto-resolved by MetaServer (e.g. network connection lost)
Red = critical error: action or server restart is required. Red errors and the documents that caused them can be managed in the Errors tab.

If a critical error keeps occurring, you can contact us through our online support form. Please describe the issue as detailed as possible.

If the cause of the error is related to pending documents in the server, you can reset the server by following steps documented here.