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Programming Tools: .NET and Java

PD4ML Probe

PD4ML Probe tool is a cross-platform GUI tool, built on the top of PD4ML HTML-to-PDF converter library.

With the tool you can evaluate PD4ML, get familiar with PD4ML API, refine your HTML templates to be compatible with PD4ML's HTML/CSS renderer specifics. The tool allows you to compare PDF output of multiple PD4ML versions and, for example, to consider a necessity to upgrade your productive environment to the most actual converter library state.

1. Installation and update

There are versions for Mac OS X (64bit) and Windows (32bit and 64bit) instantly available. Binaries for other platforms like Linux, Solaris (and others if supported by Java SWT) can be built by request.

The tool requires JDK 1.6+ on the target platform. JRE is not sufficient, as PD4ML Probe utilizes Java compiler API for dynamic Java code snippets compilation.

2. Features

2.1 Navigation and preview.

PD4ML Probe inherits application and GUI framework from Eclipse/SWT and supports the major features, probably already familiar to you. You may open or close particular views, combine them to groups, position the groups in different regions of the main application window, minimize the groups. If any View is closed by mistake, it can be re-opened via Window->Show View menu command.

The main view is the navigation pane "Browse Test Files". Any selection change in the pane impacts all other opened views: it opens a selected file in HTML and Java editors (Java code is stored as a comment in HTML file), it forces embedded browser and PDF previewers to show a rendered/converted file.

The navigation view pre-reads all .htm, .html and .dxl file names into a tree structure. The structure (or a part of it) can be refreshed from a context menu accessible by a right mouse click.

"Preview in Browser" view embeds a regular web browser. On Mac OS it is Safari, on Win it is MS Internet Explorer. Also PDF viewers use the browser component to show PDFs, so it is expected the browsers have PDF plugins correctly installed.

The arrow buttons change a selection to next or previous documents, opening nested folders where needed. The same can be achieved by the keyboard arrow buttons, but in some environments the browser view captures focus - so an interaction with the mouse is needed.

A meaning of "New folder" button is obvious. "New document" creates a new HTML from the default template.

PD4ML probe includes evaluation version of PD4ML Java library. The library is used to generate PDFs (shown in "PD4ML Java" view) and images ("Rendered Image" view). The actual library version number can be found in PDF document properties (right mouse click to a generated PDF).

2.2 HTML and Java editors

PD4ML probe implements simple HTML and Java code editors with syntax highlighting. Any changes done in HTML document source or in Java code instantly impact relevant views.

Initially HTML is converted to PDF with the default PD4ML API calls. But the default Java code can be extended and overridden. The HTML-test-case-specific code is stored to the corresponding HTML file as comments.

Java code editor also implements a very basic content assist ("auto-complete" feature). If a particular code line starts with pd4ml, by Ctrl-Space it offers PD4ML class API methods to insert.

2.3 External converters

As we mentioned above PD4ML Probe already has a PD4ML Java library built-in. But what to do if you want to test another version or PD4ML Java or even PD4ML .NET?

There are 2 special views, named External Tool #1 and External Tool #2.

The views communicate with external command-line tools and represent their PDF output. The command line syntax must be compatible with Pd4Cmd and its .NET port pd4net.exe

3. Troubleshooting

- Error Messages view - to be used to monitor conversion errors.
- Genaral instability.
- Go to the application home directory, open PD4ML Probe.ini in a text editor and change javaw in the second line to java. The change forces Java to start with a console open. Check the console output for error messages or exception stack traces.
- Note: on Mac OS it is a bit tricky to get the application home. You would need to go to Applications folder, right click on PD4ML and choose Shop Package Contents. Then go to Contents/Mac OS.
- After a serial number entering, the application quits. The Java console (if opened) disappears too quickly to read what wrong there.
- Most probably the application has no permissions to write to the application home directory. Change the directory permissions or ownership using the standard OS means or set PD4ML Probe to "run as administrator" (in the application security properties).

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Manufacturer: PD4ML
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