KL Group’s PageFormatter is a tool for C and C++ developers that adds considerable flexibility and power to a UNIX application’s printing capabilities. When properly used in an application, PageFormatter allows excellent print management like formatting and pagination to any print request. This expands considerably on the basic output routines that most C and C++ libraries provide under UNIX.

PageFormatter allows developers to create a template which defines exactly how text is to be formatted for output, and how to flow text over several pages, if necessary. This approach allows developers to hard-code different types of output much like forms design. You can, for example, write routines that print invoices, statements, catalogs, and brochures that look as if they were created using a fancy Windows-based forms design tool. While most forms tools are much easier to use under Windows, since they are usually drag-and-drop layout tools, they do not allow you to import the form-output code into an application. PageFormatter offers hard-coding abilities to applications that are not dependent on the end-user’s system or printer.

The PageFormatter package consists of a CD-ROM containing the libraries which are easily extracted to a directory. After setting up some environment variables manually, developers can use the libraries as part of their normal coding routine. A spiral-bound Programmer’s Guide and Reference Manual explains how the libraries work and how they can be used.

PageFormatter has many features that ensure developers will find the package worth the learning curve. Through the use of standard printer description files, PageFormatter can take advantage of a printer’s abilities for special effects like half-toning, scaling, tray selection, duplexing, and so on. Each printer used by PageFormatter has a printer description file that is standard, so there is usually very little work required by the developer to set up end-user environments. No special run-time libraries or printer device drivers are necessary.

We tested PageFormatter on both SCO OpenServer and SCO UnixWare systems, as well as on an HP workstation. Using standard C compilers we had no trouble incorporating the PageFormatter routines into applications. Output quality was superb, with total control over every parameter. Evaluation versions are available at the KL Group Web site. If you develop C or C++ applications and need more than standard printouts, look at PageFormatter. It’s expensive but worth it.