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Easy and Efficient PDF Data Extraction with RoughDraftPro

November 30, 2023

Adam Fairholm, Sitation’s Director of Product Development, shares a powerful solution to bulk data extraction challenges.


A common challenge for businesses is managing product data trapped in endless PDF files. PDF format is a popular but not-so-data-friendly method for organizations to share information. Product information often comes in the form of vendor spec sheets packed with valuable details like product data, feature bullets, full descriptions, and some form of specification table.

While PDFs are a widely adopted and supported format, they are not ideal for storing data. PDFs, unlike HTML documents and web pages, don’t have a neat, easy-to-parse structure. Getting PDF data extraction into a structured set is a costly, time-consuming, and error-prone process. task. Imagine scanning through each PDF and tediously copying and pasting information into your system.


The Problem: Vendor Data Stuck in PDFs


Here’s a common scenario: an ecommerce website sells products from various vendors. The data is stored in a Product Information Management system, and each vendor’s data must conform to the data properties in the PIM. Some vendors send nice, separated values via CSV files that can be easily mapped to properties in the PIM, but one vendor just sends a zip folder full of PDFs, one for each product.

It’s simple to go into each PDF and copy and paste text for each UPC, weight, etc., but in this case this vendor has sent over 5,000 PDFs. Even at 1 PDF per minute, you’re looking at over 80 hours of mind-numbing, repetitive work.


The Solution: Artificial Intelligence 

This is a great job for AI to solve. It’s perfect for sifting through data and organizing it into a format that your PIM system can easily digest. While many systems allow you to extract data from PDFs and analyze it with AI, the challenges are:

  • Scale: The solution must have the ability to run in batchable processes. Tools are designed to complete a single PDF data extraction, but that doesn’t really help if we have 5,000 PDFs to extract data from.
  • Structure Format: The solution must return the data in a format we can import directly into our PIM system. It’s great to get marketing copy out of PDFs, but a CSV provides the spec data in a format we can import into other systems.


The Tool: RoughDraftPro


Making Data Extraction from PDFs Easy and Efficient with RoughDraftPro


RoughDraftPro is designed to handle data extraction challenges at scale, transforming your PDF chaos into structured, usable information.



RoughDraftPro uses what we call ‘output schemas’. These are powerful ways to specify exactly how you’d like returned data to be separated and formatted. For instance, we may want to request that AI identify and parse a PDF and identify a UPC, a weight value for the product in lbs, and warranty terms.

After we run each individual PDF through RoughDraftPro, when we download the results as a CSV, each piece of data from the output schema will appear as a separate column.


Bulk PDF Extraction

RoughDraftPro is built for running repeatable bulk processes. Set up the prompt model for the extraction process once, and this process can be repeated for one or several thousand PDFs at a time.


Tailor-Made Output Schemas

One benefit of specifying output structures via RoughDraftPro is the ability to customize your output schema for your particular use case. Through custom prompt modeling, adhere to your specific PIM data structure, making PDF extraction a simple and repeatable process.


The Data Extraction Process Simplified


With RoughDraftPro, the process for handling vendor data stuck in PDFs is pretty simple:

  • Upload: Skip the manual review. Upload PDFs to a drive, and an input CSV is a publicly accessible URL for each PDF.
  • Setup: The CSV is then uploaded to the RoughDraftPro CSV flow, applying your specified schema for organizing the data.
  • Extract: The CSV flow runs, extracting the details in the format requested. Download a CSV that has a row of data for each PDF.
  • Check & Return: That CSV is spot-checked and then uploaded into your PIM.


RoughDraftPro is more than just a tool; it’s a smart solution for streamlining your data management processes. By harnessing the power of AI, it turns a daunting task into a smooth, efficient process.

If you are interested in getting data out of your PDFs and into data formats you can use, contact us to learn about making RoughDraftPro a part of your data workflow.

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