For several years, we wanted to create PDF documents from documents stored in several Notes databases/applications. I created a solution using a PDF printer driver, but as Lotusscript can only print using the frontend classes, this required the printing agent to be launched manually by a user. Several of the agents also had to print to a physical printer in addition to creating a PDF, meaning that my agent had to switch printers. I was using Win32 API calls to do this, as the clients were on 5.0.12 initially, then 7.0.2. Specifying a printer in uidoc.Print() did not come until 7.0.3…
This system worked, but took a lot of time, and required some spare desktops to be setup just to process all those documents. For several years I had been researching products that could help us, and the only one I found that looked really promising was N2PDF from SoftVision in Germany. The only issue was the price, EUR 5,200 ($7,100) per server. We only needed this on one server, and eventually we were able to get approval for this, after I calculated that we would save about 80 hours of work/waiting each month by getting this product.
I downloaded the 30 day trial version of N2PDF and tested it, and I was amazed at how easy it was. Just a few lines of code added to my agents and the PDF files were created. The documentation shipped with the product (in PDF format, of course) is good. We purchased the software and I started rewriting a number of agents designed to run using frontend classes on the client to run using backend classes on the server.
I created a simple class as a wrapper around the N2PDF functionality I needed. I also added code in that class to print a PDF file directly to a physical printer. I will do a write-up of this here later today.
I ran into some issues with the product, though. N2PDF supposedly read the Notes document and convert it into RTF format (according to SoftVision tech support), and items that are invisible in the Notes client (e.g. the space before and after a table) are rendered by N2PDF. Also things like having a small centered table inside a table cell in another table will not work, the centering will not be honored. Therefore I had to modify several forms to produce identical results in N2PDF and in Notes.
SoftVision seems to have a very competent tech support, I talked to Marcus there, and he was on the issue, did his investigations and got back to me very quickly when he had to find something out.
I know there are other ways to create PDF files, but those involve writing your own code, using Java libraries, etc. But N2PDF was perfect for our purpose. The only issues were the rendering problems mentioned above, and that they do not have a developer license. In order to avoid having to purchase a full EUR 5,200 license for my development server, SoftVision suggested that I download the 30 day trial once a month (when it expires) and register for new demo keys. The demo version put a water mark on the files created, why could there not be a developer licence for say $250 or $500 that also put a water mark on each file. Basically a non-expiring demo version. I can’t be the only Notes developer working on a development and/or test server before putting code in production…
Disclaimer: Product purchased by work.