Posted by : Deepak Vasudevan Sunday, December 16, 2007

[Software Review] Granular Print Control with Internet Explorer

Introduction

Most of us developing web applications and JavaScript would have, in one time or another used window.print() to print the active document. And for most of the simple applications and plain vanilla documents, this would actually fit the needs excellently. However, there are a few business requirements that might dictate a more granular control over the printing, nature of printing (Unattended -- No Prompting), Custom Stylesheets, Nonstandard documents (like PDF).

When the need of accomodating such business requirements knock our door, I would say, there is neat little ActiveX From Meadco which answers the queries.

The Inspiration and Problem Requirements

The inspiration to dig deep into my memory on my use of MeadCo ScriptX Basic somewhere around in 2003 for a Fi-Serv group company based in California was a few queries last week in our forums about 'Unattended Printing'. By default, Internet Explorer would mandatorily throw open the Print Dialog and the user has to give his consent of sending the document to the printer. But when it comes to business applications like Banking, Library Management system etc, the user would be really irritiated to keep clicking OK button for each and every print request that he is enqueueing to the device.

The next salient example would be printing non-standard documents like PDF or Word. Currently, there is only option left. Link to the document and guide the user that he has to choose 'Print' from the document helpers' functionality. But with ScriptX, it provides a direct 'Print' command for such documents too. Of course, it internally downloads the document, calls the 'Print' function of the helper application, on behalf of us.

The Power-Features of ScriptX

A few of the features have been based from ScriptX Webpage here(http://www.meadroid.com/scriptx/)

  1. Enabling ScriptX in our web applications is as easy as telling 1, 2, 3. Meadco provides a simple latest CAB file for free (Basic).
  2. Support for IE 7 Templates. Internet Explorer Print Templates had been one another way to circumvent the limitations of window.print(). But without ScriptX, using the Templates directly and manipulating them would mean a little tricky whirlpool.
  3. Support for Framed Pages
  4. Optional Preview Support
  5. Unattended Printing
If you are a tech-savvy user wanting more out of ScriptX, some of the advanced functions might be wanting for you. However, you may need to purchase appropriate license for the same.
  1. Queued Printing
  2. BatchMode
  3. Zoom Facility
  4. Non Standard documents like Document and PDF
Summary

I am sure this would be a quick eye-opener note for the programmers in getting a more powerful print solutions for thier web applications. It also provides a cleaner wrapper on Print Templates besides unlearning the retired Web Browser object which is not considered safe post Windows XP Service Pack 2.

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