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Proper Printing in WebDirect Updated – FileMaker Today

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[FMT Update Link] Thank you to some readers who pointed out a few bugs in the example file affecting windows users. The issue was in the “RoboPrint – Process Print Jobs” script. Interestingly, this script runs in the context of a popup window, and we were using a third off-screen window to carry out individual print jobs. When this off-screen window closed, the script focus was actually returned to the main window, not the popup which launched the off-screen window, a bug if ever I saw one!  We have modified the example file to explicitly change context back to the RoboPrint popup once processing of print-jobs has been completed. You can download the revised example file at the bottom of this article


Introduction


For those not familiar with WebDirect think of it as Instant Web Publishing enhanced. Whereas IWP was fairly static,  the goal for WebDirect is to be more dynamic and responsive to user interaction. Most FileMaker Pro functionality is there in WebDirect and the overall experience can be made to feel very similar to FileMaker Pro.  One of the key features it lacks though is the ability to print reports and this is quite an important feature if WebDirect is to be used as a substitute for FileMaker Pro as a deployment platform.


The implications of no printing in WebDirect


Because the Print script step is unsupported in WebDirect, the only other way to print is through the browsers print function. This however is a very poor substitute as the browser will only print the visible window contents. Any lists of records or any layout that cannot fit entirely in the visible window will not print.  Without Preview mode we also have no ability for producing complex sub-summary reports or sliding of records. Basically, it just dun work!


Side note: when we say printing in this article what we really mean is preview mode and all that goes along with that (such as printing).


Okay so it doesn’t print, so what can it do?


One thing WebDirect does do quite well is displaying interactive container data. What has that got to do with anything you ask? Well, it means displaying a PDF within WebDirect is pretty nice, so if we could generate a report as a PDF and display that to the WebDirect user instead, then this should allow them to scroll through it, preview it, and subsequently print it via printing of the PDF.

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