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Will Jasper Reports be a good alternative for creating PDF documents ?

Sumit Ranjan
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 20, 2005
Posts: 24
Hi All,

I work in an Investment bank for a project where the major business goal is to produce Client Trade confirmation reports showing client specific data like Trade details, Client account details, my company's brokerage, disclaimers etc in a PDF format. These PDF reports vary widely for different clients and we currently have lots of different templates which are determined using complex business rules.

At the moment,with the current volume we are doing just fine with the reports but very soon we will need to be dealing with almost 4 times the volume which is a cause of worry for me because I feel the current technologies we use are very obsolete and inefficient. In brief here is what we do to produce the confirmations in PDF format -

Step 1.) Generate XML using data available to us in our database.

Step 2.) Convert this XML to HTML.

Step 3.) Convert this HTML file to Postscript files using html2ps which is an open source (We use XSL for different templates of PDFs to be generated and config files for static data like header, footer etc.)

Step 4.) Convert this Postscript file to PDF using Ghostscipt which is an open source as well. On most occasions, after the generation of the PDF some information is overlayed on top of it using the AWK files because the information is available only at runtime.

I have heard a lot about Jasper Reports and was wondering if someone could tell me if Jasper reports will be a nice and more efficient way of achieving my business objective ? Note that I have no working experience of Jasper reports. Also, if there are other technologies which can be considered please suggest them as well.

Thanks for your time !!!

Regards,
Sumit
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 39551
    
  27
I can't speak towards the performance of JR, but it seems as it has at least the potential to be faster, since it replaces multiple steps (DB->XML->HTML->PS->PDF) with a single DB->PDF step.

If this was my problem I'd prototype a single report (possibly the one that is the slowest to generate according to your timings), and check whether it is faster with JR.

I'm a bit worried about your statement of "I feel the current technologies we use are very obsolete and inefficient." That doesn't seem a good basis for making sweeping technology changes. Do a lot of timings first to find out why the process takes a long time (e.g., it doesn't make sense to change the PDF generation if the bottleneck turns out to be the DB).

I'm also concerned about post-processing PDF files with AWK (or any tool that adds text to a PDF after creation). That may well work with the PDFs that are currently created, but may break with the ones created by any other means (like through JR).


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Sumit Ranjan
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 20, 2005
Posts: 24
Hi Ulf,

Thanks a lot for your response.

I'm a bit worried about your statement of "I feel the current technologies we use are very obsolete and inefficient." That doesn't seem a good basis for making sweeping technology changes. Do a lot of timings first to find out why the process takes a long time (e.g., it doesn't make sense to change the PDF generation if the bottleneck turns out to be the DB).


The reason I believe that the current technologies are inefficient is because -
1.) There are so many extra steps here and so many intermediate files created which have no use to us but just a ladder to get the PDFs besides taking up huge space on our production Solaris boxes.

2.) There is very less documentation available on these technologies on the internet or even otherwise and in some cases, we end up doing WORKAROUNDS rather than fixing the original problems.

3.) They are very much dependent on the underlying architecture in the sense that if it works on Solaris 8, there is no guarantee it will work on other OS. (We even did a dry run to try it on LINUX and came across few problems)

So, you see, there are many reasons for me to think of alternative technologies.

I'm also concerned about post-processing PDF files with AWK (or any tool that adds text to a PDF after creation). That may well work with the PDFs that are currently created, but may break with the ones created by any other means (like through JR).


Using AWK is just a workaround for us at the moment to OVERLAY some information available pretty late in the pdf creation lifecycle.If things are possible with Jasper Reports, I would be more than happy to quit this process altogether.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
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