AFP Viewer

An indispensable tool for AFP user packed with advanced features.

There are many PDF viewers, but viewers for AFP are scarce. Unlike Adobe whose Acrobat sets the standard for a PDF viewer, IBM’s AFP viewer was a plug-in that doesn’t intend to be the standard and has been less actively maintained. Most widely used AFP viewers nowadays include AFP-lookup tool, whose major strength is the ability to examine individual structure fields for diagnosis; Isis Papyrus viewer, which features a reliable rendering at a fast speed; and the IBM plug in, which is closest to the physical printer.

Most print stream transformation companies make their own viewers, too. These viewers are typically  capable viewing different formats in addition to AFP, such as PDF and PCL. It is built on top of each vendor’s existing product architecture, and often the viewer is a just a façade for a printstream-to-image transformation happening in the background, and what’s shown on screen is often an image. Such an approach would make it job easier for the viewer, however the speed and interactivity is not the most desirable.

Our viewer takes on the task of actually rendering the bits and pieces on the canvas using GDI+ wrapped in .NET, utilizing existing graphics functions to handle images, fonts, vector graphics where it can, while drawing text by itself where necessary. For example, Type-1 outline fonts and subset TrueType fonts with non-Unicode encodings can be drawn by the viewer itself. Zooming is done smoothly as there’s no need to create an image at every different resolution level, and navigation is fast as the images are rendered on demand.

The viewer potentially supports various kinds of interactivity, such as selecting, highlighting, clicking, changing, etc., because it has the detailed information about all items on a page: location, font, text, color, and so on. In fact, the functionality is fully utilized in our DocEvents processing program.


About the Author: Cyphia