Merge PCL (printer control language) with AS/400 data to print directly from the AS400.

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We want to use a 3rd party software package to design forms (example VICs Bill of Lading with bar codes etc.), create a PCL (printer control language) file with it and then merge that PCL file with AS/400 data to print the forms natively from the AS/400. Apparently one of our divisions (running on a different platform) has done something similar to facilitate their bill of lading. The point of this approach is to use the design tool to design the document but not have to use their printing infrastructure to print the forms (i.e. purchase additional print servers, printer licenses etc.). I?ve looked through the IBM manuals concerning printing, advanced function printing etc. looking for information on this approach. The AS/400 Guide to Advanced Function Presentation and Print Services Facility alludes to this approach in sections describing AFP and PSF. Have any of you used it or implemented anything like it?

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Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added. member Roland Thibault offered this suggestion:

“We’ve been using a product from Intergrated Custom Software, called FormSprint. I’ve been using is for about five years, and I think it’s great. It supports graphics, bar codes, check mica numbers, output to PDF, and a bunch of other stuff that is great. It has several special features like distribution of reports based on data content, page by page.

It runs on a green screen, which is not the neatest interface, but you don’t have to design and overlay and merge you data with it. It creates GUI reports with graphics to a Laserjet printer.

BTW, I have no interest in the company; I’m just a happy customer.

Call if you have questions.”

Roland Thibault
AEA Technology

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  • MichelleDavidson
    From member Bernhard Muller: Years ago I had a customer who wanted to print PCL directly from COBOL (or RPG) programs. I developed a tool to: - simply create forms with a green screen editor, positioning elements 1/100 inch exactly - load the forms as overlays into printers (connected via LAN, Twinax, PC or Terminal) - merge the remaining data directly by program. In the development cycle I wrote a program to read in spool files generated by the tool(for test purposes). This may be a solution for you: You at once can read in the generated PCL form from spool, store it in a file, and then print it together with your application data.
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  • MichelleDavidson
    Another user also recommended Formsprint from Integrated Custom Software. She writes: "We have been using Formsprint from Integrated Custom Software (ICS) for over 10 years. (I think closer to 12 years!) They are located in Glastonbury, Conn., 860-657-3339. We took all multi-part forms (invoices, purchase vouchers, etc.) and single part forms that were printed on dot matrix printers and moved them to laserjet printing with Formsprint. No more teaching users how to load forms, how to line them up, and how to response to iSeries forms messages! I install the updates in less than 30 minutes and with no problems. I've upgraded OS/400 several releases in the past 10 years, and the upgrades have not caused a problem with Formsprint. The product has been constantly improved and enhanced. (Some were even my ideas!) We have over 200 print queues in use. Support has been great whenever I come up with something that I need to do but haven't tried before. I've rarely needed them for anything that "breaks," as very little has broken in the past 10 years. I haven't found a font, graphic, or anything yet that I can't use in Formsprint. I've designed forms, written the CL, and written the RPG to put it all together to make it work. I really like the product, and it does what it says it will do."
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  • MichelleDavidson
    Users also wrote in with their suggestions for printing tools, such as products from Quadrant Software and Cybra's MarkMagic 5.1.
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