SpoolFlex 4.2 Gives Customers More Control Over i Output
November 11, 2008 Alex Woodie
It will be easier to produce highly tailored Excel spreadsheets loaded with i5/OS data using the latest release of the SpoolFlex output management system unveiled by DRV Technologies last week. SpoolFlex 4.2 brings new options for specifying how i5/OS data will appear when converted to the XLS format, including font, size, justification, and even color highlighting of rows and cells. The new release also makes it easier to configure SpoolFlex’s e-mail distribution feature on System i servers.
SpoolFlex is a mature and stable product designed to help System i shops reduce their dependency on printers and paper output by grabbing spool files off their servers’ output queues, reformatting them into popular formats like PDF, HTML, or Excel, and distributing them electronically, via e-mail, fax, or posting to central servers.
While SpoolFlex has supported conversion to XLS for some time, previous versions converted the spool files into the CSV (comma separate value) format before converting to Excel, says Richard Voss, CEO of DRV Technologies, which is based in Duluth, Georgia.
The reliance on CSV left something to be desired in the customization department. Users were often faced with lots of manual work to make the spreadsheets look the way they wanted, which led to extensive re-formatting of the data, cutting and pasting, deleting, and highlighting important information.
With SpoolFlex 4.2, DRV Technologies now gives users automated control over many of these customization options from the comfort of a template controlled from the 5250 menu. Users can highlight rows or cells based on data from the spool file, or customize the font, font size, and alignment of columns and rows. Column wrapping and support for background colors are also new features.
There are a variety of uses of the new features. For example, sales reports can be spruced up to highlight totals or sub-totals, while less important information is given less prominence on the page. Profits can be highlighted in one color, while any negative numbers (losses) can receive their own highlighted colors (perhaps red).
Delivery of i5/OS spool file data via e-mail is also easier with SpoolFlex 4.2, which features a completely rebuilt e-mail module. The highlight of the new e-mail module is the capability to configure the system in one step, instead of configuring various applications and subsystems separately, including the i’s SMTP server, the mail services framework (MSF), and the distribution directory.
The new e-mail module also gives users the capability to give attachments names with up to 128 characters, and to include multiple attachments. Better control over the “from name” and “from e-mail” fields on outgoing e-mails will eliminate confusion on the part of SpoolFlex recipients, while support for multiple recipients, read receipt, importance level, and sensitivity level give SpoolFlex users more control.
Some of the customization and ease-of-use features in SpoolFlex 4.2 were foreshadowed in the launch of ReportFlex, which DRV Technologies released this June. ReportFlex focused on helping customers clean up messy and convoluted SCS spool files in preparation for the generation of reports. ReportFlex requires SpoolFlex for Excel conversion.
SpoolFlex 4.2 is available now. Pricing starts at $2,600 for the base product, and $1,800 for SpoolFlex advanced utilities, which adds handy features like an outque monitor, report bursting, and an addresses book. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.drvtech.com.