IDEA Tech Tip: Using PDFs

If you’ve used IDEA Data Analysis Software, you know it is a powerful, comprehensive tool for analysing data and performing faster, more effective audits. What you might not know is that there is a supportive online community you can turn to as a resource with your IDEA questions.


Some of the most frequently asked questions are about importing PDFs. Auditors frequently receive information via PDF files that need to be imported into IDEA for analysis. Here are some of the top tech tips on working with PDF files as suggested by our IDEA user community.


Importing PDF files


Q: When I open up a specific PDF file in Adobe Reader, the columns align under the column titles and are nicely formatted. However, when it goes through the Report Reader in IDEA, the data in the columns appear to shift. I tried to use the floating trap approach without much success, but when I open the file in Monarch the columns stay properly aligned. Is there an easy workaround?


A: If this happens, there is an easy fix. Reprint the file using a PDF printer and change the “Default” properties to “High Quality”. – Brian Element, IDEA certified instructor and Financial Advisor at Public Works and Government Services Canada


Opening large PDF files


Q: How can I reduce the time it takes to open large PDF files?


A: Once you have opened a large PDF file and have converted it to a text file, this shortcut will reduce the time it takes to reopen these files:


  • Click on File > Option and select the Folder tab. Take note of the path for the storage of your temporary folders.
  • When you open the PDF file in Report Reader for the first time, go into Windows Explorer and locate the .txt copy of your file that was created in the Temp folder. Copy this file into your Source File folder (or wherever the original PDF file is located).


This simple two-step procedure will eliminate your wait time the next time you open the file. – Audimation Services, CaseWare IDEA distribution partner


Report Reader


Q: Why should I use Report Reader?


A: Report Reader is a tool within IDEA that allows the user to convert complex and tricky reports/PDF files into IDEA. It offers the following benefits:


  1. Ability to capture the import process as a template. Subsequent reports can be imported in a jiffy with the template.
  2. Allows for edits to the template to make small, field-level changes without having to redo the entire process.
  3. Links report field headers and report transactions easily.
  4. Capability to work with multi-line variable length fields.
  5. Provides tools to deal with variable width fields – floating fields.


In short, the Report Reader allows you to format, define, shape, adjust and create a report of your choice with your fields. – Jairam, IDEA forum contributor


Multiple file import from Report Reader


Q: I have twelve monthly sales reports that I would like to import into IDEA. How can I import, apply a template, and merge results into one database?


A: Use my multiple file import script as it allows you to select multiple files (as long as you are using the same template). After which, do a regular append.


The other way is to create a script that does it all for you. You can find some example code here– Brian Element, IDEA certified instructor and Financial Advisor at Public Works and Government Services Canada


How IDEALab Can Help 


We’re proud of IDEA, but we want to take the software to the next level, by focusing on innovations that will make auditors’ work faster. Inspired by the online support community around IDEA, we designed IDEALab—a dedicated online innovation hub for IDEA-related resources that will make your life easier.


IDEALab allows auditors with no programming experience to create specific software solutions that fit their business, and then share them with the wider IDEALab community. Whether its dealing with PDFs or designing a completely new solution, IDEALab is your way to both innovate within and give back to the IDEA community.


With IDEALab, users can access, download, comment on, and test working prototypes of IDEA-related resources from CaseWare as well as user-created tools. Using these apps requires no programming knowledge and installing is as easy as putting a new app on your phone or a new extension in your web browser.


With eight plug-ins currently, and more available in the coming months, IDEALab will be your go-to solution for speeding up your workflow and leveraging community-built tools to improve your day-to-day.


To learn more about IDEALab—or if you have an idea for an app you’d like to see included in our suite of time-saving solutions—click here now.