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Arbortext 6.0 and APP - Integration Clarification

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Recently, I been asked a few times about the Advanced Print Publisher's integration with Styler and the Publishing Engine. I have also heard some incorrect discriptions of how things work, so I thought I would take this opportunity to clear things up and give you some extra information too.

As you should be aware by now, Arbortext Advanced Print Publisher (APP) is a print coposition engine. It is a very flexible and speedy one which can produce really high quality pages without needing any manual intervention. It was first integrated with Styler and APE in 5.4 as a technology preview, becoming production ready in the M060 release. The Advanced Print Publisher was integrated for a number of reasons, but its language capabilities (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Hebrew, Arabic and so on) and the increased typographical and layout capabilies were key.

In Styler, you now have the choice of using APP, FOSI or XSL-FO to generate print pages. For the integration, we spent a great deal of time and effort making sure APP created output which was as close as possible to that produced by FOSI. This was not always easy as FOSI works rather differently to APP, but we were satisfied with the results.

In 6.0, APP became the default print composition engine in Styler and APE. This means that any new Styler stylesheet will have APP selected as the print composition engine by default. It does not mean that existing FOSI or XSL-FO stylesheets will start using APP.

One thing I have heard is that you get a free copy of APP when you buy Styler. This isn't true, but you do get the composition engine which excludes the user interface and is engineered to work closely with Styler or APE. If you want the APP user interface to develop templates or open saved APP documents then you need APP Desktop. You do get a print preview, which uses APP's WYSIWYG view to present the formatted document. From the print preview you can save an APP document which can be opened in APP Desktop.

Styler 6.0 had a number of features added which are shown in the user interface as 'APP only'. These are mostly in the page layout areas where some of APP's page layout capabilities were exposed and include:

  • Column gutter rules
  • Uneven column and column gutter widths
  • Selecting different left and right-hand blank pages
  • Page region borders
  • Page clipping
  • Page region avoiding

As we develop Styler, we will be exposing more of APP's capabilities. But, and this is important, it does not mean that we will neglect the FOSI output. If there is an engine-agnostic way of providing a feature then we will prefer that. If the feature can be easily provided through FOSI as well as APP, then of course we will provide it. We're not planning on taking FOSI away.

One of the areas where I have heard most confusion is how to use APP and extend Styler stylesheets using APP. So lets look at this now. There are a few ways to do this with increasing capabilites.

Basic APP Use

If you want to switch to APP and you have 100% pure Styler stylesheets, then all you need to do is go to the Print/PDF tab in stylesheet properties and select APP. Everything should work the same as before. As you are using a different engine you may see some minor differences but, as I mention earlier, we spent a great deal of time and effort getting output from APP as close to FOSI as possible.

Source Code Edits

APP allows source code edits of elements at the context level only. You cannot make element level source code edits using APP. For APP, in addition to elements, you can also make source code edits on

  • Property Sets
  • Page Sets
  • Page Types
  • Page Regions

If your stylesheet has FOSI or XSL source code edits they will not work in APP. You will need to recreate them using JavaScript and APP's Formatting Object Model API. It is always worth checking that you actually need the extension as the feature you need might now be provided through the Styler user interface. The APP folder in the Samples provided with Styler give you some APP source code edit examples including adding borders to blocks, using CMYK colours, testing different properties and accessing other APP typographical properties. Other times I have used source code edits include:

  • Changing custom table output
  • Creating bleed tabs
  • Accessing the file system
  • Making formatting decisions based on graphic size
  • Generating inline SVG graphics

Creating APP source code edits provides a great way to extend your stylesheets and is pretty straight-forward to do.

Template Extension

APP formats documents using a template-based mechanism. If you have code you want to add to your stylesheet which does not fit into any of the source code edit points then you can associate an APP template with your stylesheet. You can use this to add special functions, colours, content, page regions - anything you like. To associate a template, go to the Print/PDF stylesheet properties tab and you'll see a file picker. The code in the template supercedes anything APP will create based on the stylesheet so provides a nice override mechanism. You can access the template components using source code edits in your stylesheet.

Native Templates

You can use native APP templates with Styler and APE. As the composition engine is there, there is nothing stopping you. But, you need to be aware of certain things when using APP this way such as how APP gets content from Styler and APE and how a formatting job is managed. Other than that, you are free to make your template do anything you wish to access all of the power available to standalone APP users. Using APP this way is the only safe way to get 'touch up' - the ability to open a saved APP document and tweak it.

APP is a great addition to the capabilites of APE and Styler. It is worth getting familiar with it as we will be building on it as we further develop Styler's capabilites. APP is the kind of tool that will get you out of trouble!

I hope this posting has gone some way to clarify what the APP integration means and what you can do with it. If you want to know more about the Formatting Object Model then it is detailed in Styler's documentation. If you want to know more about any of this stuff including the standalone product, please get in touch.


Thanks for posting this, Simon.

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Last update:
‎Sep 20, 2011 05:59 AM
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