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Extracting PDF form data using Microsoft Power Automate

This step by step guide will provide an example of how to extract PDF form data in Microsoft Power Automate using Encodian’s ‘Get PDF Form Data’ action, before creating a SharePoint list item using the extracted data. Noting once you have extracted the data you can do anything with the data (Power Automate capabilities permitting), this is just one simple example.

Scenario

A holiday request PDF form is completed by company employee’s and sent to a generic mailbox for manual processing. This Power Automate solution picks up all relevant new emails, extracts the data contained within the PDF Form attachment and adds the data to a SharePoint list for onward approval processing.

Guide

1. Create a new Flow using the ‘Automated — from blank‘ option

2. Enter a name for the Flow, select the ‘When a new email arrives‘ trigger, click ‘Create

3. Configure the ‘When a new email arrives‘ trigger action to enable the targetted emails to be identified, in this example, we have set the following fields: To, Include Attachments and Subject Filter

4. Add a ‘Get PDF Form Data‘ action

4.a. File Content: Select the ‘Attachments Content‘ field from the ‘When a new email arrives‘ action

NOTE: As there could be more than one attachment in an email, Power Automate will automatically place the ‘Get PDF Form Data‘ action into an ‘Apply to Each‘ loop. You may need to add additional configuration to your flow to identify the correct attachment(s) as needed.

5. We now need to obtain a sample of the generated JSON data which will enable us to add additional actions to parse and use the returned JSON data.

5.a. Test the Flow using your preferred method, click ‘Save & Test

5.b. For this example I selected ‘I’ll perform the trigger action‘ which I invoked by manually sending an email aligned to the configuration of the trigger action.

5.c. Once the Flow has executed open the ‘ Get PDF Form Data‘ action, and click ‘Click to download

5.d. Depending on your browser; the JSON payload will either download as a file or open within a new browser tab. We use Firefox’s developer edition browser which opens the JSON file in a new browser tab

5.e. Locate and obtain the value of the ‘Form Data‘ node.

5.f. The JSON will contain ‘\’ escape characters which we need to remove. This can either be done with a text or code editor using ‘Find and Replace’ or an online service such as https://www.freeformatter.com/json-escape.html

6. Add a ‘Parse JSON‘ action

6.a. Content: Select the ‘Form Data‘ field from the ‘Get PDF Form Data‘ action

6.b. Click ‘Use sample payload to generate schema

6.c. Copy and paste the cleaned JSON generated in Step 5.f to the text-area control, click ‘Done

6.d. The ‘Parse JSON‘ action is now configured and will allow data to be selected as Flow dynamic data in subsequent actions.

7. Add SharePoint ‘Create Item‘ action

7.a. Site Address: Enter the location of the SharePoint list where list item should be added.

7.b. List Name: Select the SharePoint list where the list item should be added

7.c Map fields from the ‘Parse JSON‘ action to the ‘Create Item‘ action.

8. Retest the Flow using data from the previous run

9. The flow should execute successfully

10. A new list item within the target SharePoint list should have been created.

Whilst this Flow adds a SharePoint list item, you can pretty much do anything with the extracted data, add even custom system integration via HTTP Rest calls and Azure functions!

If you have any questions, comments or would like some assistance please make contact via the Encodian Support Portal.

Happy Flow building 🙂

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