Putting PDF Into a 3000's Data Flow
November 17, 2015
HP 3000 experts know of a wide array of techniques to create PDF files from the server's data, then move them via FTP to a Windows server. While the simplest answer for getting reports into PDF format and then out via Windows is probably Hillary Software's byRequest, there are other commercial solutions. There's also several bolt-together techniques if you've got very limited budget to homestead.
Bob McGregor reports:
We use txt2pdfPRO by Sanface. We had a job that would run and check a pseudo device for spoolfile output, and if the pri > 0, would run the sf2html process, convert to PDF and then FTP to a Windows server. The process would then delete spoolfiles=0 on the pseudo device the next day. Setup took a bit... but once done, worked well.
Lars Appel, author of the Samba/iX file sharing tool, adds:
I wonder if it might make sense to configure a "dummy" network printer on MPE/iX and have it send spooler output to a little socket listener on the Windows system (similar to the FakeLP example from the 3000-L archive) and then invoke GhostPCL on the Windows side for generating the PDF output.
The "dummy" network printer would let the MPE spooler take care of the PCL conversion and also perform the "file transfer" automagically. The GhostPCL software is probably easier to get (or build / update) on Windows than on MPE (okay, I admit that it did also build on MPE long ago.)
Nominate a spooled ldev as always suspended (74 in our case, arbitrary). Users can choose this device as their printer in their menu, and all subsequent reports (until changed to another real printer ldev) will go to this device — and therefore NOT physically print. Some reports that are commonly used to import to Excel have been modified to make headings tightly lined up with the data columns, and only print one page heading, to ease the import process.
Run a job on 3000 that every few minutes scans for spoolfiles for this ldev, then copies them to Posix space specific to 74 (for generality), with the creating user and account in the file name (e.g. mgr_stock_O12345.txt), then delete the original spoolfile.
A scheduled program on the Windows box (every minute) connects via FTP to the 3000. When it finds a spool files as above example, it checks for a Windows destination dir of MGR_STOCK, and copies the file to it as O12345.txt, and deletes the 3000 copy of the file. The account name enables segregation of reports for different applications in our case. If the file is > 1MB (an arbitrary size of your choice), it's zipped. It could as easily be converted to any desired form — for example to PDF via the shareware cutepdf.
It could also readily email the output to a user, given access to a mail server, and a way to develop the email address. Users have a client to access the FTP server and obtain their .txt or .zip files
This has been running for more than 10 years with almost no issues. Occasionally a large file might hang FTP, but canceling and restarting the copy usually fixed it. I have seen report selection errors produce 500 MB TXT files.
You might use several suspended ldevs for different types or groups of users. We ran this on four 3000s in different locations, each with their own separate windows boxes using BP-FTP server. This means that users in Australia can run a report on the Houston or China system to the local printer 74, pause, connect their FTP client to the relevant FTP server, and download the report without having to print it.
The process also enables soft storage of month end reports, which can be very useful for comparative purposes, auditing, and general historical reference. We now have about eight years of this information stored, with backups and CD copies. Much more compact than paper, and cheaper.
Michael Anderson of consulting firm J3K Solutions added that there is also a open source PDF tool, pdfcreator, a manager can use to set up a network PDF printer. "Some assembly required, and batteries not included," he noted.
Another vote came in for the Advant/X software from Tracy Johnson, the OpenMPE volunteer who manages the Invent3K shared open source server. Johnson notes that this STR Software product "while intended to convert spool files and then e-mail or fax them, can be used short of the transmission process."