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Issue 6.6


PDF Classes

Issue: 6.6 (September/October 2008)
Author: Brad Rhine
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,821
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 6606
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Full text of article...

Fireye Software's PDF Classes are, simply put, the best way to add PDF support to your project. Although recent updates have been few and far between, version 2.4.5, just released a few days ago as of this writing, fixes a critical incompatibility with the most current versions of REALbasic. If you're a previous user of Fireye's PDF Classes, this upgrade is a no-brainer.

If, however, you haven't used Fireye's PDF Classes before, here are the basics you should know. First, they are very easy to incorporate into an existing project. Just drop the classes into your project tab and you're off and running.

Second, you really can't beat the pricing structure. You can use almost all of the features of Fireye's PDF Classes for free, as long as you don't mind having encrypted classes in your project. This route should be fine for most users. If you need more advanced features, namely font embedding, PDF bookmarks, and console application support, Fireye's PDF Classes are still quite a deal at just a hundred bucks.

Creating a PDF in code is very similar to how printing is done in a REALbasic application already, or any kind of graphics work for that matter. At a minimum, you'll need to use the included PDFDocumentWriter class, which will work in tandem with a FolderItem you provide and the built-in PDFGraphics class.

The beautiful thing about the PDFGraphics class is that it mimics REALbasic's own Graphics class almost perfectly, and it adds some new features as well. This makes converting your old printing or drawing routines to use Fireye's PDF Classes a breeze. I was able to integrate it into a few existing, and rather complicated, projects in short order, with great results.

And if, like many of us, you struggle with exact measurements and margins when trying to print, you'll be relieved to learn that Fireye's PDF Classes provide very predictable and consistent results. I recently used it to create student transcript labels that had to fit to a particular Avery label format. Aside from a small bit of experimenting with the margins, it was a snap.

One downside to Fireye's PDF Classes is the update frequency. For whatever reason, the developer took a long time to release the latest version, which left those of us who depend on it stuck at an older version of REALbasic until the upgrade came out. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but it's definitely something to keep in mind. Also, since the classes are encrypted, it's not an ideal solution for open source projects.

Despite those two relatively minor downsides, I find myself relying on Fireye's PDF Classes pretty extensively these days, from the student reporting mentioned above to a personal application that emails custom PDF files to people in my address book.

End of article.