CM/ECF Developer Frequently Asked Questions

I want my application to provide attorneys with the ability to create several bankruptcy petitions during the course of the day, with the required attachments (e.g., schedules, creditor matrices), then submit them all at once in a single transmission (e.g., bulk-file them). What is the file format required for CM/ECF to accept this type of input?
CM/ECF does not currently support this functionality.

What PDF file-creation software can be used with CM/ECF?
CM/ECF does not restrict filers to a particular vendor's PDF-creation software; any of a number of choices are available in the marketplace. However, CM/ECF functionality is tested specifically with Adobe Acrobat software.

Is there a limit on the size of the PDF files which CM/ECF will accept?
CM/ECF is configurable by each court to set a limit on the size of PDF files submitted for filing. Because of the disk space and long retrieval time consumed by large documents most courts have set limits on either the number of pages that will be accepted electronically or the file size that will be accepted. These limits range from 25 to 150 pages, and from 1.5 to 2 megabytes. If a document exceeds the limit, the recommendation is to break the document into separate, smaller documents. Check the Court Information link on the welcome page to determine the file size limit for a district.

Some of the documents which will be included in the electronic submission to the court will be PDF image files, rather than PDF text files. What are the recommended scanner or file settings?
There are several factors to consider for those documents that must be imaged because a word-processed version does not exist. The quality of the document when scanned is determined by the level of detail recorded by the scanner. This detail is referred to as the resolution, which is measured by the dots per inch (dpi). A higher resolution:
  • is slower to scan
  • creates a document with a larger file size. This, in turn, causes the loading and retrieval of the document from CM/ECF to be slower.
It is important to find a resolution that will provide a high quality document, with a file size that does not hamper the length of time it takes to scan, load, and retrieve the document. CM/ECF project recommends 200 dpi resolution.

Another factor to consider is the mode of scanning. It should always be done in black and white, so that the file size will be as small as possible. Never scan in color, unless absolutely necessary

As offered by other bankruptcy petition software packages, I would like to offer 'automatic e-filing' functionality to the users of the bankruptcy petition preparation software I am developing. My application will interact directly with the CM/ECF java and perl scripts (as one technical person explained it), taking the place of the user making the required keystrokes. In order to reduce the possibility of error when the 'automatic e-filing' part of my application is sending information to a court's CM/ECF system, I would like to know what the allowable values are for each of the user-entered data fields, and the error messages or conditions which may result if the data submitted is not within allowable parameters, or missing. Can you provide me with this information?
Allowable values are available at the following URL: http://www.pacer.gov/documents/case_upload_specs_3_1.pdf .

There is no standard list of error messages or conditions which may result if the data submitted is not within allowable parameters, or missing. This information is only available from each court.

Is there a test CM/ECF system that I can use for testing my application?
Because of the high degree of customization courts are permitted with CM/ECF and the fact that the clerk of each court is responsible for the case information filed with that court and this may raise security or other concerns with a court, you will need to contact each court individually to request permission to test your application against their database.

My goal is to develop software that will automate the filing process from within a desktop application. Is there anyone I can call for help with this?
The Administrative Office does not have the resources to support external software development efforts; the information posted on this page in response to other FAQ's may be helpful to your efforts.