As I was learning about the details of our PDF support in the 7.1 release to write this blog, I discovered things were a bit more confusing than I realized. So this blog post is going to discuss the PDF support we’ve had in the past along with what’s new with 7.1. The information in this blog also pertains to the releases after 7.1.
PDF Support Using the IBM Infoprint Server for i
In order for the Convert to PDF option to appear, you must install the AFP Manager feature as part of the System i Navigator installation. This support also requires the IBM Infoprint Server for i product to perform the conversion; the IBM Infoprint Server for i is a chargeable product that has quite a bit of function, but many clients don’t need all of the function when they just want to generate PDFs. In 6.1, this same support is available in the Navigator for i Web Console. I’d also like to note the Export option; prior to 7.1, export just saves the spooled file as a text file and isn’t related to PDF capabilities at all.
The following 6.1 screen capture shows where these options are located.
IBM i 6.1 – Native PDF Generation
In the 6.1 release, IBM added the support to allow you to natively generate a PDF file from your application though the use of workstation customizing objects. To do this, you define or override a printer file with a device type of *AFPDS to use a workstation customizing object; you can use the IBM-supplied special value of *PDF for the WSCST parameter, or you can specify a workstation customizing object with an attribute of CTXFORM. In either case, you also must identify the stream file where the resulting PDF output is to reside. The application, without change, can now generate a PDF file rather than the AFP spooled file. This support requires the IBM Transform Services for i licensed program product to be installed and also requires PASE (since the transform services function runs in PASE). The Transform Services licensed program product (5761-TS1 or 5770-TS1) is a no-charge product that is included with the operating system.
IBM i 7.1 – Export a Spooled File to a PDF
The PDF support has been enhanced in the 7.1 release to allow you to export a spooled file to a PDF file. This support is found within the Navigator for i administrative interface only. You will find four different options to export a spooled file as the following screen capture shows:
For currency purposes, the following screen capture shows how these print options look with the 7.4 release.
This is a bit confusing because it’s only the first option–Export as PDF to client file system–that provides new support in 7.1. This option takes an existing spooled file, whether AFPDS or SCS, and exports it to PDF format. You can store the PDF locally on your PC or, if you have mapped a network drive, can store it within the IFS. This support requires the IBM Transform Services for i licensed program product, but it doesn’t require the Infoprint Server product. If the Transform Services product isn’t installed, you’ll still see the export option, but if you try to perform the export, you’ll get an error message telling you the function requires the 5770-TS1 option 1 to be installed.The other three options – export to output queue, IFS, or e-mail – are existing functions that require the installation of the Infoprint Server product. Choosing one of those three options will bring up the PDF Convert wizard like the Convert to PDF option did in prior releases.
One other point to note: on the screen capture, you’ll also see an option to View as PDF. This is also new in 7.1, and converts the spooled file to PDF using the transform services support and opens the resulting PDF.
Finally, for the brave, you can use the Host Print Transform API directly to perform this conversion from a spooled file to a PDF. I wonder if IBM will provide an easier interface to do this someday? It seems like it would be really nice to simply copy a spooled file to a PDF …
I’d like to thank Rod Klingsporn, Terry Luebbe, and Kevin Vette, all members of the IBM i Print team, for helping me better understand our PDF support and for their assistance with this blog article.
This blog post was originally published on IBMSystemsMag.com and is reproduced here by permission of IBM Systems Media.