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CoolSpools400 - @riadne Software's spooled file conversion utility

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You can get a description, the full list of features as well as a trial copy of CoolSpools400 over at http://www.ariadnesoftware.co.uk - the following is just my take on it.

I think I first saw CoolSpools400 mentioned in one of the NewsWire mailings. At the time we were looking for a flexible AS/400 solution to generate .pdf documents (ie. Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format files). I had proposed an extension to my homegrown GNU/Linux & AS/400 solution (the WRKUSROUTQ api converting spool to text, then GNU/Linux converting text to .pdf) but my bosses were keen to keep everything on the AS/400. That way they wouldn't be dependant on me (the only GNU/Linux user) or my pc. The big benefit that CoolSpools400 offered, other than being wholly AS/400 based, was the report splitting feature.

I've seen other tools offering something like this, but nothing as flexible or comprehensive. When converting to .pdf, CVTSPLSTMF (one of the two commands behind CoolSpools400) can split the spooled file into multiple .pdf files on either page breaks (or every n pages) or every time a key string appears. Having split the file a user defined exit program can be called which is passed all the pertinent details from the command, plus data extracted from the spool segment. This data can be from a specified location or associated with a key string. This gives tremendous flexibility when dealing with split segments, as you can move/copy/rename the segment according to the data it contains, without any additional work on your part.

We are making increasing use of AFPDS spooled files at work to replace pre-printed stationary, and my own utilities only work with the old *SCS type reports. CoolSpools400 handles AFPDS and IPDS, which will enable us to offer customers an email option for their documentation (though some are bypassing that and moving straight to XML - another 'interesting' challenge).

There were a few niggles with the tool to start off with, the main one being I couldn't see anything in the .pdf files :-( This only affected my GNU/Linux box, the files were fine in Windows, and turned out to be a codepage & font issue. This was speedily resolved and there is now a VIEWER(*OTHER) parameter to keep me happy ;-) The other big change has been in overlay image conversion. Our logo and other images didn't make across initially, but @ariadne dug around to get this fixed too. All this was before we had purchased it and all emails were very promptly replied to - excellent service.

As you can probably tell, I like CoolSpools400 ;-) I think it's a great tool at a good price - now go and try it out yourself :-)

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