Administering Blue Prairie Forms

Blue Prairie forms was designed to be administered using common operating systems features and standard utilities.  Most administrative tasks can be performed using skills you already possess and are made easier by the introduction of common GUI-based administrative tools.

We recommend that all BPF administrators spend the time to familiarize themselves with these tools and to carefully read the recommendations found in this manual.  Investing a small amount of time now to configure the administrative tools that you will use will greatly increase your knowledge of the product and prepare you to assume the role of administrator.

Blue Prairie is available to assist with administrative tasks as needed but be forewarned that annual maintenance and support fees do not cover routine administration, form design, programming or routine administrative maintenance.  You will be billed for this type of assistance.

Most Common Administrative Tasks

The most common administrative tasks are:

  1. Starting the Samba service on the MultiValue host
  2. Mounting the Samba share from the MultiValue host to the Print Server
  3. Starting and stopping BPF Phantoms
  4. Managing document archive directories
  5. Modifying templates

Basic Process Flow

Understanding Blue Prairie Forms at a high level can greatly help you administer and manage the system.  The following diagram illustrates the components and process flow:

  1. Your application calls the Blue Prairie Forms API and creates a print job. Note, no ‘spooler’ job is created.  The print job is created without the use of the multiValue spooler. The UNIX spooler on the MultiValue host is also not used.  Print jobs are transmitted directly to the ‘queue’ directory within the Blue Prairie Forms account (See BPF Directories in the left box.
  2. The print job is actually an Open Office .odt document that is written to the …/bpi_forms/queue directory on your multiValue host
  3. When the document is dropped into the queue directory, a phantom responsible for monitoring that queue directory will pick-up the job and then instruct Open Office on the Linux Print Server to print the document.
  4. The MultiValue host makes its BPF directories visible to other systems on the network (including the Linux Print Server) by sharing the bpi_forms directory using SAMBA. Samba simply makes the directory visible to other computers so that documents and other information stored within the directory will appear as directories and documents stored locally on that computer.  If you have ever created a Windows ‘share’ then you are already familiar with this technology.
  5. The MultiValue host sends commands to the Linux Print Server telling it to run Open Office, load the document and print it to the desired printer.

 

Administrator PC

The administrator PC is not required to run Blue Prairie Forms but is highly recommended.  This can be any PC in your environment.  You will need to have installed on this administrator PC, a browser and VNC client.  With these simple (free) tools, you will be able to manage nearly any component of Blue Prairie Forms whether resident on the MultiValue server or on the Linux print server.

As you can see, the idea of Blue Prairie Forms is pretty simple.  When you understand how Blue Prairie Forms works internally, you will be better prepared to administer the system and to diagnose issues that may arise.

Setting up your Administrator’s Environment

To perform your administrator’s tasks, you’ll want to have some basic tools setup on your PC that will help you manage the elements shown above.

Download and Install Open Office

You’ll definitely want to install a copy of Open Office on your PC.  Open Office is freely downloadable from openoffice.org.  Another fork (version) of Open Office, called Libre Office will also work.

Connect your PC to the Share

You’ll want to connect your PC to the samba share on the MultiValue host.  The share will then become visible on your PC as a drive letter (such as Z).  From there, you can use Windows Explorer to navigate the directory to examine queued documents, explore archives and even modify templates by clicking on them and using Open Office on your PC to edit them.  Later in this document, we will provide step-by-step directions for attaching to the Samba share from your PC using Window Explorer.

Download and install a VNC Viewer on your PC

This tool allows you to connect to the Linux Print Server and view the graphical desktop on that server.  Using this tool, you can define printers, check printer status, view and modify jobs and perform other routine tasks.  You can also run Open Office that is already installed on the print server.  Later in this document, we will describe how to use connect to the Linux Print Server using TightVNC.  Free VNC packages are available in both Client and Server version.  You'll want the client package which is sometimes called the "viewer."

Browse to the Samba Web Admin Tool

From time to time, you may need to stop or start the Samba process on the multiValue host.  For example, if Samba has not been configured to start automatically when you restart your MultiValue host, you may need to manually start Samba using the Samba Web Admin Tool (SWAT).  Later in this document, we will show you step-by-step how to access SWAT to perform administration of your Samba environment

Browse to the CUPS Printer Page

The CUPS printer page is a web page that resides on your Linux Print Server.  It can be used to view and manage printers and print jobs defined on the print server.  The CUPS printer page can be configured so that you may allow normal users (not administrators) to access the page to perform basic printer and print job administration.  Access can be restricted so that you only grant end-users the privileges you decide are appropriate for them.  More information about the CUPS printer page and the CUPS printing system can be found in later sections of this document.

Access the Blue Prairie Forms Phantom Menu

Blue Prairie Forms provides an easy to use administration menu to allow you to manage the phantoms that pick-up and process documents that have been deposited by applications into queue directories.  A later section of this document fully describes this administration interface and how it is used to manage the Blue Prairie Forms system.