BP Forms - Modern Printing for Legacy Applications
Enhanced Business Forms Printing
Would your organization like your ERP applications to print elegant, graphical forms? Are you tired of paying for expensive three-part, tractor-feed paper, many sheets of which end up in the trash? Would you like to eliminate the use of old-style printers and utilize the laser printers you already available on-site? With BP Forms, your business can achieve each of these goals. Using simple OpenOffice form templates to interface with your ERP system’s legacy print programs, BP Forms allows you to print stunning, graphical forms from your laser printer while saving money and time. All without having to write custom code!
BP forms can be used to print a wide variety of forms generated by your legacy ERP application:
- Invoices and statements.
- Warehouse forms, like transfer and pick tickets.
- Shipping documents, such as packing lists and shipping labels.
- Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
Legacy print programs can't keep up with today's technology
Print programs for legacy ERP applications were written years before laser imaging became a standard. As a result, applications were designed to print monospace characters on tractor-feed forms. Some advanced line printers are available today that provide access to a small number of fonts and graphical capabilities but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to add watermarks or barcodes to your forms, use variable page sizes, or incorporate headers or footers into documents. Integration of fonts and other enhanced features requires modification of the application code that generates your forms. In essence, it’s like you need to build your own print driver!
You are likely experiencing a variety of annoying problems related to printing forms from your business application:
- You'd like to print your company logo on business forms, or customize form content based on location, but these seemingly simple changes require programming work.
- Print processes are very resource intensive, bogging down your system and making it difficult for employees to get their jobs done efficiently.
- Print managers for legacy server environments (e.g., AIX) are often complicated to use and lack an intuitive user interface. Your IT staff must get involved when problems occur or changes need to be made.
- Three-part forms are more expensive per page than traditional paper and there is significant waste associated with printing on three-part forms.
So, even though there is likely a laser printer stationed every ten feet within your organization, you can’t take advantage of your organization's available resources to print the forms that are crucial to the running of your business!
Create graphical business forms using OpenOffice templates
With BP Forms, your important business transaction forms will be printed from one or more print servers to designated laser printers on your network. Print servers are inexpensively configured using a virtual server or re-purposed hardware, running no-cost, open source software such as Linux (e.g., Fedora and Ubuntu, etc.) and OpenOffice. Form templates are modeled after your existing character-based forms, but now you can enhance those forms with graphical features and functional enhancements.
- Place a color logo into the header of your forms.
- Apply watermarks to documents to distinguish between copies that are sent to the customer, packaged with a shipment, or delivered to the accounting department.
- Print barcodes on your forms by simply installing a barcode font (e.g., ID Automation’s Code 39 font) onto your print server and then utilizing that font within your OpenOffice templates.
- Add images dynamically to the documents you are printing (e.g., map for a specific store number, time-sensitive advertisements or coupons).
- Utilize "EcoFonts" to reduce toner usage and save even more on printing costs.
Templates are designed in the standard OpenOffice word processing editor and saved in the ODT template format. You can make use of headers and footers, and repeating data is easily rendered using tables; your form design will accurately reflect the printed document. Your form template interfaces with your backend application and retrieves form data using a unique tagging system that is similar to mail merge functions found in popular word processors. Simply create a tag name or "placeholder" that corresponds to a specific data element on your form (e.g., %CUSTOMER to represent customer name). Insert this tag into your document template at the specific location where that data should be printed on the form.
A BASIC API is provided to integrate the Blue Prairie Forms legacy application interface directly into your uniVerse and UniData applications. Using another databases like Pick, Ultimate, Raining Data, Tiger Logic, UniVision or jBASE? Contact Blue Prairie to find out how we can integrate BP Forms into your legacy environment.
BP Forms Template Design: Click here to read more about technical considerations when building form templates for OpenOffice.
Intuitive print management
Setting up BP Forms on a Linux printer server means that printer and print job administration can be managed by graphical tools such as the CUPS printer page, Linux desktop printer tools (GNOME, KDE, etc.), and WebAdmin. These tools are easy-to-use, and provide an intuitive interface from which you can setup printers, move print jobs around the network, and restart print jobs, etc.
CUPS is a standards-based, open source print subsystem used in most Linux distributions that handles printing requests and provides a structure for the use of print drivers. A browser-based print management page is also provided that can be used to manage and monitor print jobs generated by Blue Prairie Forms. BP forms utilizes the CUPS system on the OpenOffice server to direct output to the printer.
These benefits are particularly helpful for those organizations who have traditionally utilized character-based printer admin tools, such as SMIT for AIX.
How does BP Forms compare to other solutions?
If you are comparing other solutions to BP Forms, following are a series of questions that we recommend you ask the vendor.
What is the real total cost of deploying the solution?
Compared to competitive products whose license fees can exceed $50,000, BP Forms is much less expensive to license and integrate with your ERP application. In addition, BP Forms uses no-cost, non-proprietary, open source software whenever possible to keep your costs low. With other solutions, you will likely be required to purchase a powerful and costly Windows server and associated operating system and office software. BP Forms utilizes a lean technology stack that's inexpensive to acquire, deploy and maintain.
Can you create and modify your own form templates, or will you have to pay for additional software and/or consulting fees to customize your form templates?
With some vendors, you may be required to pay for every form template that is created or modified. Alternatively, some solutions require that you purchase a template editor for an additional license fee - and you will need to learn how to use this proprietary editor. With BP Forms, you can easily customize your own form templates using OpenOffice, the free open source office software standard. You only need your existing word processing skills to create and edit form templates!
How many print jobs can be handled at one time? Is multi-threading on a single print server built into the solution?
BP Forms is designed for multi-threading, which allows multiple print job to be processed simultaneously. The benefit of multi-threading is that you get more throughput and faster print times. This is a significant advantage over alternative solutions that only support single-threaded operation (i.e., only one print job can be processed at a time).
The perfect solution for Automotive Parts distributors
Business workflow is complex for automotive warehouse distributors, so these organizations rely on many different form types to keep the business running smoothly. Printing programs were typically designed to use multi-part forms to support the workflow process, and as a result, many distributors are still using expensive pre-printed forms and antiquated impact printers.
With BP Forms, automotive distributors can (1) stop using expensive multi-part forms and old printers, (2) take advantage of the laser printers already present in their stores and warehouses, and (3) print good-looking forms that capitalize on the features inherent in all modern word processors: images and logos, color, tables, barcodes, headers and footers, pagination, etc. In addition, BP Forms allows automotive warehouse distributors to preserve the business workflow process while eliminating waste and reducing overall printing costs.
BP Forms Dust & Son Success Story: Click here to learn how Dust and Son is using BP Forms to produce graphical forms and lower printing costs.