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In its brief history, Sun’s Java Platform has been weak in printing and document rendering as compared to Microsoft Windows. Dynalivery is fulfilling this need for better document management with the introduction of its second major product in the Fall of 2002, the Saffron Document Server.
Saffron is virtual printer software. Applications typically will connect to Saffron over intranets or the Internet, and “draw” successive text and graphics objects (using Sun’s Java2D specification) that comprise the pages of documents. Saffron will then translate these pages to a variety of popular document formats and transmit them immediately to users waiting at web browsers. Saffron will optionally “archive” documents on paper or in databases for “later” use. Saffron will also optionally act as a “local virtual printer,” executing on the same computer as the invoking application. Saffron includes an all-Java PostScript® interpreter and a PostScript print driver for Microsoft Windows NT/2000.
A core capability of Saffron is to generate Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) output, similar to Adobe Acrobat Distiller. However, it is a high concurrency Java server application, not a single-user desktop product. The PDF format, originated in the graphic arts industry, has become a de-facto standard for precisely formatted business documents such as bank statements and insurance forms that users transmit over the Internet. Unlike HTML, PDF documents retain their formatting across many different computers, operating systems, Internet browsers, and printers. Users may read PDF documents with a free browser plug-in called Acrobat Reader that is downloadable from the web sites of Adobe and thousands of its customers.
Dynalivery’s first product, Parallel Crystal has generated PDF documents from one application, Crystal Reports, since 1999. It uses a thread-safe C++ library developed by Dynalivery. It processes complex report templates with sub-reports, charts, lines, and bitmaps. Parallel Crystal faithfully renders them with a compact file size and page breaks in the right locations, matching the Crystal Reports Designer Print Preview window. To see for yourself, download the sample Box Office Movie Report, Box.pdf, generated with Parallel Crystal v2.6 and Crystal Reports 7. (If you have Crystal Reports Designer 7, 8, or 8.5, please feel free to download and review our box.rpt sample report template.) Dynalivery’s enterprise customers have achieved scalability in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 PDF pages per day of highly personalized output with Parallel Crystal.
Dynalivery developed Saffron in response to customer demand to break out the popular C++ language PDF technology in Parallel Crystal into a separate server product that would work with Crystal Reports, competitors to Crystal Reports, and even non-reporting server applications. By implementing in Java we have met an additional customer requirement for portability across operating systems and computing devices such as appliances, printers, PCs, workstations and high-end servers. Saffron will have a number of enhancements over Acrobat Distiller including a variety of output formats beyond PDF (HTML, RTF, and soon TIFF, JPEG, PNG and SVG), document concatenation, and document storage in an Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) repository.
In addition to accepting PostScript, Saffron will soon accept XSL-FO and PDF as input. The XSL-FO input module is targeted at Java developers using JDK 1.2 and 1.3 to print and requires manually editing of XML. The PDF input is targeted at existing Adobe Acrobat Distiller uses who may wish to repurpose their PDF content for web delivery in HTML or SVG or editable delivery in RTF. Beginning with JDK 1.4, Dynalivery will support direct or serialized Java2D printing input, i.e. not requiring manually editing of XML.
Note that Adobe publishes the structure of its PDF file format to assist developers like Dynalivery in the creation of software products that complement Acrobat. Dynalivery currently relies upon public specifications of the other standard file format types that it targets with Saffron output modules.
Target Market Niches
Printing and Document Rendering from any Java application, local or remote, to files or paper.