PDF In-Depth

REVIEW: Monarch V8 Professional

November 02, 2005

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Editor's Note: The author of this review is a Datawatch customer and user of Monarch V8 Professional.

Lee Ann Bond is a consultant for IPS-Sendero, a global technology-consulting firm based in Atlanta, serving the accounting and analytical needs of financial institutions. This includes the production of customized reports, and data cubes for multidimensional analysis. The company's solutions generally measure a bank's performance, loan risk/return levels, and more.

One of IPS-Sendero's key challenges is how to get all necessary bank data from disparate sources into a consolidated database file for data analysis. Required data often resides in databases, spreadsheets, reports and PDF files. For example, some third party information service providers offer banking data in PDF report format only, containing industry averages, competitor pricing levels, etc. This data is especially important as it enables benchmarking analytical results against competitors, and to ensure compliance with internal pricing policies.

Previously, getting banks to provide all data in a specific single data format was the biggest bottleneck for many of our projects. With Datawatch's Monarch V8 Professional Edition, I use the Open command on a PDF report file in a Monarch report view, and use a PDF Import wizard to fine tune the conversion. Then I can transform the PDF data and other information sources into live, actionable report, without having to do any programming or use a separate conversion tool.

Monarch V8 Pro easily mines and combines data from PDF report files with other report files (print files, spool files, PRN and TXT files, etc.), HTML files, spreadsheets, and database data. Additionally, Monarch enables easy data transformation, including data sorting, filtering, calculated fields, lookup of additional data located in other data files, and summarization of data with subtotals and grand totals. IPS-Sendero and banking staff can export data at any time to MS Excel, Access, PDFs, delimited text files, and other popular formats.

It's especially helpful that Monarch V8 Pro detect PDF-based reports and business documents, including invoices, purchase orders, etc. It does so by specially recognizing PDF report columns, patterns and grids to enable full positional integrity of the data when converted to a text file. Additionally, I can modify how Monarch V8 Pro converts a particular PDF report with user-adjustable settings. These settings are retained and can be reused for future iterations of the same PDF report format.

Monarch V8 Professional's PDF Import feature retains table formatting.

One caveat with Monarch V8 Pro's PDF conversion is that it will not work with PDF-Image files; an OCR tool is necessary to covert an image to text (which could then be mined for data using Monarch). Monarch V8 Pro does, however, convert non-image portions PDF files (i.e., PDF-Normal) reliably into text for easy data mining and exporting.

In addition to Monarch's PDF report file conversion feature, I can view report navigation trees that allows me to automatically jump to any desired portion of a report I'm working on. Another great feature is the ability to generate an audit trail, tracking changes made to a Monarch report model. Finally, for our more complex reports, Monarch can combine existing filters, making precise filters, based on multiple criteria, easier to define.

Generating an audit trail.

On the surface, Monarch V8 Pro is an easy-to-use report mining application that can utilize and combine filtered data from many different sources, including PDF report files. While PDF conversion is critical for our banking work, Monarch's further abilities streamline complex reporting and analysis projects, and make it much easier to produce the final reports in the formats preferred by our customers.

Using Monarch V8 Pro, I've been able to dramatically cut the amount of time necessary to complete projects with PDF report data, as I'm able to accept data in virtually any format for mining, transformation and exporting to easily produce new reports. Additionally, Monarch V8 Pro's data capabilities are opening the door to new consulting service opportunities in the area of loan portfolio risk and return assessment and analysis.

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