Healy Launches iPDF Server to Ease Spool File Distribution
November 3, 2009 Alex Woodie
IBM says it’s working on native PDF capabilities with next year’s release of i OS 6.2 (or whatever it will be called). Luckily for customers that cannot wait that long, there are PDF solutions from third-party developers. One of these is Healy Software, which recently launched a new product called iPDF Server that allows users to convert spool files to PDFs, index them in an archive on a PC or System i server, and then retrieve through a Web browser.
System i shops, like their cohorts running business applications on Windows or mainframes or Unix servers, are demanding solutions that convert spool files into the PDF format, which has become the standard file format for customer-facing documents in the United States, if not the entire world.
There are a handful of spool-file-to-PDF conversion utilities available for i OS, and with the launch of Healy’s iPDF Server in July, there is now one more.
iPDF Server gives users an easy way to convert spool files to PDFs, to create an indexed archive of converted spool files, and then to pull them up through a Web browser.
Healy says that, by empowering users to find documents or reports by themselves, it will eliminate the need to bug an IT worker to dig up the files. Offloading spool files and reports to a PC or a PC server can also reduce storage requirements on the System i server, thereby boosting performance or saving money.
Users interact with iPDF Servers through four main steps. The first step involves defining the archive on the System i server (while the archive is defined in i OS, the archive of converted PDF files actually resides on a PC server). Healy provides a command, WRKPDFAR, that allows users to name the archive and define the IP address, network path, user and password info, and index setting for the PC-based archive.
The second step involves transferring spool files to the PC server, which is also the step where the i OS spool files get converted to PDFs. Healy provides another command, TFRSPLF, that allows users to perform batch or interactive conversions of spool files into PDFs, which are then moved to the PC server. Users can transfer multiple output queues when using the batch transfer function.
The third step involves viewing the archive of transferred spool files from a green-screen interface, which is enabled with the WRKPDFHST command. Healy also provides a command, WRKPDFOPS, that allows administrators to view details of spool file conversions and transfers, such as the name of the archive, its IP address, or date and time.
The final steps are conducted from a Web browser, and include browsing the spool files and pulling them as PDF files.
Once the spool files have been converted to PDFs and transferred to the PC server, they are presented by Healy in a clickable green-screen interface that lets users view the archive using different indices (by user, by output queue, by save operation, or by date and time). Single-clicking a spool file opens the i OS spool file right in the Web browser.
Healy points out, rightly, that most users will need very little training once they have an i OS spool file open as a PDF in a Web browser, and should have no trouble printing or e-mailing the document.
Healy is already at work on iPDF Server version 2.0, which will bring additional indexing options. Version 2.0 should be available by January, the company says.
Healy Software is a small software developer and i OS consultancy with offices in Ireland, England, and Sonoma County, California. The company sells three other products, including Queue/400, ArchiveManager/400, and SourceScan/400.
iPDF Server is available now. Pricing is tier based and ranges from $400, to $4,000. For more information visit the company’s Web site at www.healysoftware.com .