Content by TL Ashford
Get out of the AFP trap. Modernize forms and save money.
Generating forms with AFP is difficult. IBM i forms software can make designing, modifying and generating forms cost effective and easy.
Coding forms using AFP printer files is cumbersome, time consuming, and requires higher level technical expertise that is often in high demand within an organization. Companies often do not change their forms because the forms are difficult to change even though changing the form would benefit the company by including on the forms more data, bar codes, color, etc – or simply making the forms look better and more modern.
Changing forms created using AFP printer files usually requires programming or other technical resources that are costly and in short supply. Overlays are a particular concern for most people we speak with. The process of creating and using overlays, a VICS bill of lading for instance, requires the AFP driver on a PC. A single-page document is then printed to the AFP printer to create an overlay file, uploaded to the IBM i, converted to an overlay object, applied in the printer file, then tested. If the overlay doesn’t appear correctly, start over. Another common issue is that margins tend to vary on the limited number of printers that can be used with AFP, and this can be a source of much frustration for the programmer trying to get the form right.
Our tip. Consider using an off-the-shelf software solution on the IBM i that makes form design and manipulation easy and flexible and doesn’t require high level technical resources.
Software products to generate forms should be simple to use, cost effective, and in many cases, require no programming. This makes the business environment more easily managed by non-programming staff and allows the company to be much more responsive to changing form requirements without the delays, expense, and headaches associated with AFP printer files.
While costs vary wildly, it’s easy to find a reasonably priced software solution with tons of features that permits lower-level, or even non-technical personnel to produce and edit forms. The features and functionality will save time and money, while providing the flexibility to modernize forms.
Software can provide a much larger selection of fonts, bar codes, including 2-dimensional bar codes, images and easy-to-use overlay features all in full color. These software packages often provide robust output options compared to AFP, like printing to any IBM i printer or even network and locally-connected Windows printers. They also generate forms as PDF documents, and some automatically save the PDF and/or email it automatically. And, in the case of TLAForms, no programming is needed to start generating forms.
Get out of the AFP trap. Modernize forms and save money using an off-the-shelf forms software solution on the IBM i.