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Kraft Document Templating System

February 21st, 2010 by

One of the most important objectives for Kraft is to create business documents of perfect quality. The docs are an important face to the customer and represent the business, so best is just good enough. The old times where invoices got printed on a 24 needle printer in ascii mode should finally be gone ;-)

Documents should represent the ‘coorperate identity’, which in small size firms probably comes down to printed stationary with a company logo and some other information on it. Kraft has to print  nicely on it. For that it is important that the layout can be configured at all and without compiling Kraft if the customer address should be printed fife millimeters higher for example.

Currently Kraft uses a document template written in RML for the layout. RML is a XML format which can be converted to PDF utilizing a python based command line tool which is called by Kraft. RML is a open source toolkit, quite powerful and mature. However, it does not solve all problems with flexible document creation and sometimes comes a bit unhandy. As a result our eyes are always open for alternatives.

Here are some requirements a template system must provide:

  • There is a document template in the file system. It can be changed by the user without recompiling Kraft. Kraft picks it up, fills the document values in and processes it to PDF. Other output formats are optional.
  • Layout: Areas where parts of the document are printed can be freely specified, ie. where the address, the date etc. is printed.
  • Graphical elements like lines, fixed text, boxes, colors and images can be placed everywhere.
  • The system knows at least different layouts for the first page, middle pages and the last page.
  • All pages have page header and footer.
  • Loops: Since an invoice for example has an unknown amount of items the system must be able to handle that, including clever space management with  pagebreaks. Nested loops are possible.
  • Maintain areas which must not be split, i.e. an invoice item should be printed completely on one page and not be split by a pagebreak.
  • Text faces, paragraph alignment, width, spacing and these kind of things must be configurable in the template.
  • Some variables are available such as a page counter.
  • Really great would be if the system provides carryover of calculations, like  on the top and bottom of each page the so far accumulated sum is printed.

Which free layouting and PDF generating system is able to provide that, preferably Qt/KDE based? Kugar was striving to solve it but when I tested it it did not work out.

Another idea is to use the ability of KWord to work with templates. If Kraft could read KWord templates, fill them and automatically generate a KWord doc from it, that would be a great solution, because in addition to automatic PDF generation documents could easily be exported as KWord docs and changed manually if needed. A great ‘template editor’ also would be available. This would in the direction of office suit integration that commercial Kraft competitors nowadays have.

I am not sure how far we are away from that. Something to investigate.

Kraft Project Status

January 12th, 2010 by

I thought it might be nice after the holidays to tell about the status of the Kraft project, the KDE software for people operating a small business. Some nice things happened around it.
Kraft Logo

The best thing is that an additional developer works on Kraft: After my last status post Thomas Richard (account trichard) contacted me that he is interested, next days I had the first patch in my mailbox and from that point of time on he constantly contributed high quality changes into the Kraft repository.

His high energy, dedication and fresh ideas gave me a new motivation push after having worked on Kraft basically alone for more than four years. That’s great!

The last months we worked on porting Kraft to the KDE4 platform which is in a quite good shape in SVN already: Kraft compiles without warnings and without Q3 and K3 support classes and works stable again.

We couldn’t resist to make use of the new capabilities of KDE4 here and there and as a result we have a few small feature updates as well. The most interesting might be that the first KDE4 Kraft version will additionally support a sqlite database backend which eases setup and configuration for users tremendously.

Following our friends from the KMyMoney project we will come up with a first Kraft-on-KDE4 beta soon. Please stay tuned.

Now out: kde4-skrooge 0.2.7

April 28th, 2009 by

Hi Mates,

now out: kde4-skrooge 0.2.7. Published in openSUSE:Factory:Contrib and KDE:KDE4:Community.

Extract and Compress Right Click Menu on KDE4

July 12th, 2008 by

One of the functional menu that make my life more easier with KDE 3 are the Compress and Extract Menu. With this function, I could make an archive or extract zip file with Konqueror without opening Ark for manually extract or compress the file. Now, I enjoy the KDE 4 on openSUSE 11.0, with Kwin desktop effect and a lot improvement in various area, but I still missing the above menu.

How to add the similar function to KDE 4 so we could compress some file or folder, or extract a zip file both in Dolphin and Konqueror ? Here is the tips :

  1. Download the plugin here :
    http://www.kde-apps.org/content/download.php?content=84206&id=1&tan=96989998
  2. Open konsole / terminal
  3. Extract the plugin
  4. Go to the extract folder
  5. Copy all of .desktop file into /usr/share/kde4/services/ServiceMenus
  6. Copy the content of script folder into /usr/bin
  7. Test with dolphin or kde4

Compress and Extract

The above tips will make a system wide configuration. If you wish to make a local changes, just execute INSTALL_1.0.sh on the extract folder.

NOTE : The programs p7zip, bunzip2, bzip2, gzip, rar, unrar, tar, zip and unzip must be installed.

I don’t know if the function will be added into KDE 4.1 by default, but I hope so ;-)

openSUSE 11.0 Beta 3 Testing

May 19th, 2008 by

openSUSE 11.0 Beta 3 already available on factory repos since May 15 2008 (in Indonesia, GMT+7) and has announced on May 16, 2008, but I can’t directly tried it because one of my programmer staff has resigned last week, so, I must covering up his work for a while and I can’t go for an install fest :-) . I’ve finished downloading the iso-both kde live and the i386 dvd iso-on Friday, with standard downloading from mirror on ftp5.gwdg.de.

I tried beta 3 on Satuday, and having a problem while running KDE LiveCD. The LiveCD failed run with an error exception : “Failed mounting Read Only File System”. I think it was a problem with my testing computer, so I take another machine which ended with same result.

I think I would like to post the error on mailing list but I decided to wait an installation testing with DVD iso. on Beta 1 I’ve an issue with LiveCD installation but the DVD iso is worked without problem, so I think it would rather LiveCD problem than beta 3 problem in general.

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