The need for dynamically created PDF documents and their role in a Web application

Usually, when talking about web applications or web-based applications we do not think of reports in their traditional form. We have grown used to looking at web pages that show lists of items in HTML format. When we want a hard copy of one of these lists we just have the browser print out whatever page we want or need. This all sounds very simple and easy—which indeed it is. However, there has been a downside to all of this. The quality of the printouts we generate has been decreasing over time instead of increasing as one would expect with the evolution of technology.

It has become more and more common for web applications to be used as a means of looking up data in a corporate database since information is always on-line. Reduced quality may be an acceptable way of doing things most of the time, but it is certainly not the case all of the time. You may, for example, need to generate an invoice to send to your client and you will want to make sure that it looks presentable. Many companies have had to compromise the appearance and form of the documents they present to their customers due to the practicality of communicating through the web.


A different approach

By now, it might not surprise you that the Morfik team has, again, taken to thinking outside the box in order to bring you the best of both worlds: great-looking Reports, delivered on-line through the Internet. You see, it is not necessary to ignore form in order to allow clients to get the information they want, whenever they want it.

The path chosen by the Morfik team is not innovative in the technology they use to generate great-looking Reports; they do so by generating Portable Document Format (.PDF) files. What is innovative is the way this is done, since it allows you to create your Reports in exactly the same manner you designed your Forms.

The Morfik Report Designer uses the same interface that the Form Designer uses, thus making the process of designing a Report very much like the process of designing a Continuous Form. This has the virtue of making it quite easy for someone to move freely from working on one of these items to working on the other.

Convenience and polish

There are numerous web-based corporate reporting products available on the market, so why did Morfik decide to provide direct support for reporting in its tools? Morfik Reports are simple to create and provide great-looking printouts to the end users of Morfik-built applications. They are not, however, intended as a replacement to full-fledged reporting products, as Morfik does not presume to cover all the vast possibilities in report creation. Morfik Reports are intended as a means to add small, but great-looking printouts to Morfik-built applications.

There are many situations in which you might want to allow your users to create printouts of documents such as receipts, task lists or guest lists, for example. In these situations a fully-fledged reporting platform is either too expensive, in case of the commercial packages, or too complex in the case of the free and open source solutions. Morfik aims to provide the user with the reporting capabilities necessary to create useful and polished reports without having to go through a steep learning curve or incurring large additional expenses.

As Morfik Reports are created in PDF format, they will look great on screen and look just as great when printed out without the default browser header and footer. These headers and footers which are automatically inserted when you print a web page add irrelevant information to your printouts and compromise their appearance. In creating a PDF document the user has total control of what goes into a report and what will get printed when the user decides to create a hard copy of that report.

PDF documents have another convenient aspect to them in that they allow the user to save a copy of a specific report. Once a report has been saved, the user can then store that file for audit purposes or email it to other interested parties who don't have direct access to the application that generated it.


Receipts

The fact that the end user can directly save a copy of a Morfik-generated Report is specially useful when generating receipts, travel itineraries or other such documents that the user is expected to save a copy of. Morfik's solution to reporting practically guarantees that users will not only be able to save the information but that the saved copy will be easy to read and print out.


Information distribution

Once saved as a PDF file in the end user's computer, a Morfik Report can be distributed to other people interested in the subject but who do not have access to the respective system or that are too busy (C-level executives) to browse through a system to reach them, preferring to have them delivered to their inbox.


International Support

In addition to Western and Eastern European languages as of version 3.0 Morfik has added support for several oriental and middle eastern languages. Morfik now has support for:

  • Central Europe
  • Cyrillic
  • Western Europe
  • Greek
  • Turkish
  • Hebrew
  • Baltic
  • Vietnamese
  • Thai
  • Japonese
  • Chinese
  • Other Middle-eastern languages

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