Feature - PDF Printing in Elliott V8.2

Release date: 01/03/2017 

PDF Printing in Elliott V8.2

With this release, we are providing PDF printing for Elliott V8.2 without using any third party's PDF Writer. The implementation is directly inside Elliott 8.2.  Therefore, you don't have to go to individual workstation to install any PDF Writer:
  • Creating PDF Documents -- This release allows reports to be displayed, written to disk, and/or emailed in regular text or PDF format.
  • PDF PostOffice -- This release also provides the ability to split some PDF reports into separate files, allowing each portion of the report to be distributed to a separate destination (for example, each invoice to a separate customer).
This article describes creating PDF documents.  A separate article will describe PDF PostOffice.

Specifying Text or PDF Output

To specify PDF output, check the Print to PDF checkbox in the Report Output Options dialog:


When this checkbox is checked, Screen, Disk, Defer, and Email output will be created in PDF format instead of regular text format.  You still can create PDF files by using third party PDF Writer setup as printer in the printer tab.  However, we expect you to use one or more of the following tabs to create your report in PDF format:
  • to Screen: when you PDF to screen, the report is displayed in Elliott PDF Report Viewer. In Elliott PDF Report Viewer, you can choose to print.
  • to Disk: the report is created as Ziped PDF file and placed in the Elliott "Reports" folder like other spooled reports. Elliott spooled report manager had been changed to handled PDF files as well as TXT files.
  • to Defer: the defer report is set up and when run, the PDF spooled report will be created.
  • to Email: the report is created as PDF file and email as attachment.
 An optional laser form and other appearance options can be specified by clicking the Options... button.  These options will be used for Printer output as well as PDF output.

Options for formatting the PDF document can be specified by pressing the PDF Options... button.

PDF Output Options

By default, Letter paper in Portrait mode using a default font will be used.  Any of these defaults can be changed by using the combo boxes supplied in the PDF Output Options dialog:


When you make changes on this screen and then run the report, the changes will be saved for the next time you run this report from this workstation.

When you choose Select font... from the Font combo box, a dialog like the following will appear:



Note that you are able to select the Font and Font style, but changes to Size, Effects, and Script do not matter and will not be included for the selected font..

Spooled Reports

PDF reports are handled essentially the same way as regular text reports in the Spooled Reports Manager.  The icon associated with the report indicates whether it is a regular text or PDF document.  PDF documents have some red color in their icons.  For example, the top two icons in the red box below represent PDF reports -- they each have red in the icon.  The first one is a zipped PDF report and the second one is not zipped.  The third icon in the red box below represents a zipped text report (notice the lack of red in the icon) and the last one is a text report that is not zipped.



When you select a PDF document to print, the PDF Viewer will display the document, and you can print it from there.

Elliott PDF Report Viewer


A PDF report can be viewed  two ways: with a PDF Viewer NETcellent supplies or with the default program on your computer for viewing PDF reports.  The Elliott PDF Report Viewer looks like the following:



Some of the ToolBar buttons perform features that are PDF document specific.  Hover the mouse over a button to get a short description of what the button does.

Limitations


Following are the current limitations for PDF reports:

Bar Codes

  • Code39Full is treated as Code39Standard.  This means that non-alpha, non-numeric characters (like # and ") will cause the bar code to not print.
  • UPC-E codes, when read, include the check digit -- they do not include the check digit when printed from Printer output.
  • Code93 is not supported.
  • The algorithms for rendering the bar codes in PDF reports are a little different from those in the laser printer.  You may need to make some slight adjustments in the Laser Form designer to get them to render how you want them in a PDF document.  For example, in V7.5, certain barcodes take up less space than is allotted to them in the laser form designer.  In the image below, the barcode is narrow enough to fit to the left of "PROCESS, SUBASSEMBLY":

Using the new PDF Printing option, the same barcode takes the full area allotted to it in the laser form designer:



To fix this problem, you must change the ending position of the barcode definition in the laser form designer from 20 to something like 17:


Comparison of Printing to PDF vs. TXT Format

Traditionally, when you print to Screen, Disk, Defer or Email, Elliott will print to text file (TXT) format.  Here are the pros and cons of PDF printing vs. TXT printing:

Printing to TXT

Pros: You get the best performance when printing to TXT format. In an example of a 4,000-page report, it took Elliott 88 seconds to produce the report.  The zipped spooled report disk size was 1.1MB, while the TXT file was 14MB.  So zip compression is highly effective on TXT files.

Cons: TXT documents are not as portable as PDF documents.  When you email a TXT report, the recipient can bring it up in an editor like Notepad.  But they often cannot print it with proper page alignment.  Also, TXT format does not support laser form templates for line drawing, shading, bar codes, and images.  So you cannot email a professional-looking invoice or purchase order to someone using TXT format.

Printing to PDF

Pros: A PDF file is highly portable.  When you email your PDF files to someone, the recipient can view it and print it out with exactly the original format.  PDF format supports graphics as well as text.  Therefore, you can email your professional-looking laser invoice or PO to others.

Cons: It can take more CPU and memory resources to produce PDF files.  In the example of the 4,000-page report, it took Elliott 118 seconds to produce the PDF file.  The zipped spooled report was 3.7 MB while the original PDF file was 4.9 MB -- zip compression is not as effective on PDF files.  When the 4,000-page PDF document was being created, Elliott memory expanded from 28 MB to 97 MB (and then back to 28 when printing was done).

Recommendation

Considering the above comparison, we suggest that you do not print very large Elliott reports to PDF format.  However, PDF format is perfect in the following scenarios:
  • You need to print a business document like a laser invoice or purchase order that contains graphics.
  • You need to send printable reports (like A/R aging reports) to people outside of your company.

Modified programs: BIDRPTM, BIDRPTW, NWSMMAIL, PRINT240, PRINT30, PRINTFRM, EL800EM, EL800SR, EL800RVP

JEG

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