The PrintKit software has the capability to add forms overlays to a document as it is being printed. Forms overlays provide a flexible replacement for preprinted paper stock, and they allow overlay graphics to be prepared separately from the document. They provide a path for migrating traditional line printer output to page printers, which can produce documents that are both visually more attractive (and easier to read), and potentially more economical (consider duplexing, multi-up printing).

How forms overlays work

PrintKit uses forms overlays that are coded as PostScript Level 2 Form resources. This encoding can be processed efficiently, so even complex forms print at full speed. Forms can be used with PostScript documents, and with text and ANSI-PPL3 (LN03) documents (which PrintKit translates to PostScript for printing).

Forms overlays are stored on your OpenVMS system in PrintKit's device control libraries. When you use one, PrintKit sends it to the printer as part of the print job. For each page of the document, PrintKit first prints the overlay, then the variable document data. It can print separate front and back side overlays. Production PrintKit has the added ability to print different overlays on selected sheets.

Creating forms overlays

There are several forms design products that produce overlays in the format required by PrintKit. To use them, you create the form in a PC-based graphical forms editor, then transfer it to your OpenVMS system for use with PrintKit. Investing in this sort of solution may make sense if you use forms extensively.

There is software available to create Form resources from the Portable Document Files (PDF) used by Adobe Acrobat. Many graphics programs can produce PDF files as output, and there are a variety of tools for converting other formats to PDF format.

You can also manually create Form resources, starting from Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files (the PrintKit documentation describes how). This lets you use the EPS files generated by a wide variety of graphics programs. However, it is a tedious task, and feasible only if you understand PostScript programming.

Alternatively, Northlake Software can prepare forms overlays to your specifications, working from either hardcopy or electronic sources. Please contact us for additional information on requirements, scheduling and pricing.

PDF conversion software

The XPDF software suite contains a pdftops utility that can translate a PDF document to a PostScript Form definition. XPDF is an open source project that has been ported to a wide range of platforms, including Alpha OpenVMS.

XPDF Project

Home of the XPDF open source project. Information about the XPDF software and links to downloads.

Glyph & Cog, LLC

The main developers of the XPDF software. Their site provides information on commercial licensing and Xpdf-related consulting work.

Glyph & Cog, LLC
21710 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 230
Cupertino, CA 95014
+1 408-996-7176

Forms design software

These PC-based forms design software products are capable of producing forms overlay definitions compatible with the PrintKit software.

Elixir Technologies Corporation

Elixir Forms Editor An advanced WYSIWYG forms tool to create and edit forms for Xerox, HP-PCL, and PostScript printers.

PO Box 1559
Ojai, California 93024
Fax 805-641-5920

Lytrod Software

ProForm Vision+, ProForm III A WYSIWYG forms designer and a multi-pass optimizing forms compiler for XES/UDK, HP-PCL, and PostScript printers.

2573 Claybank Road, Suite 4
Fairfield, California 94533-1656
FAX 707-429-5179

Red Titan Limited

Page Designer A WYSIWYG forms designer based on Xerox FDL, for use with a wide range of printers.

Barclay House
249 Main Road
Walters Ash, High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire HP14 4TU
United Kingdom +44 1494 565585
FAX +44 1494 563055

See also

The Northlake technical note Creating PrintKit Forms Overlays delves into more of the technical details of PrintKit forms overlays, including step-by-step instructions on creating and installing Form resources.

The PrintKit User Guide describes medium specifications and forms overlay requirements. It also includes concise descriptions of the KITCP commands used to manage queue, document and medium specifications.