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Daan Heuvelbeuk
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I am developing an Java application which can be used by self-employed persons to record worked hours for different clients to a database. For invoicing their customers I would like to gather data from the database and write the accumulated results to a pdf (or other type?) document. There are a few commercial organisations offering these capabilities. Organisations like Docmosis and iText. Their pricing scheme, $2000, is a bit steep for me. Especially as the application is not really meant to be sold commercially. I have one person who I promised the application for free. And I am thinking about performing some beta testing and promising the testers the use of the application for free too.

So my question is, does you have any suggestions for free libraries (with preferably good documentation) I can use in my application to generate pdf invoices?
 
J. Kevin Robbins
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A quick search will find many, but the Apache pdfBox library is a popular one.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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You will find a compiled list here http://www.coderanch.com/t/660373/Wiki/Accessing-File-Formats which also includes PDFBox mentioned by JKR
Check out the PDF section.
 
Daan Heuvelbeuk
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Thanks
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Daan Heuvelbeuk wrote:So my question is, does you have any suggestions for free libraries (with preferably good documentation) I can use in my application to generate pdf invoices?

I think others have already covered it, but I wonder if it isn't a bit of a "one hit" solution - albeit maybe an important one.

If I was designing an app like that, I think I'd be looking to find ways to export invoice data in a format that can be read by something like Sage or QuickBooks. Then whoever needs it can load it into their own accounting system and bang off as many copies as they like in whatever media suits them.

Winston
 
Tim Holloway
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From application code, I usually use xerces XSLT in conjunction with Apache FOP.

But for general data collection and reporting, I use the Pentaho suite - the Kettle tool (Pentaho DI) to do any necessary ETL work (for example, time collected from Hamster) and the Pentaho report generator to prototype the reports as PDFs and Excel spreadsheets.

Pentaho might be considered overkill, perhaps, but it's free (paid support available), can connect just about any data repository to any other data repository, and the report generator is equivalent to things like Crystal Reports.



My General Ledger system is gnuCash. I run exclusively Linux in-house so that rules out almost all Intuit products - besides which - again, this is free software, and more tellingly - is a heck of a lot easier to interface with.
 
Daan Heuvelbeuk
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Winston Gutkowski wrote:
Daan Heuvelbeuk wrote:So my question is, does you have any suggestions for free libraries (with preferably good documentation) I can use in my application to generate pdf invoices?

I think others have already covered it, but I wonder if it isn't a bit of a "one hit" solution - albeit maybe an important one.

Winston


An invoice was only one solution I was planning on incorporating. Another one would be something like XML (ebXML?) or CSV so the client can load the data from my application into their database. The invoice is what I am paying attention to now.

Tim Holloway wrote:From application code, I usually use xerces XSLT in conjunction with Apache FOP.


That is a possibility I was also considering.

Thank you both for your input.
 
Winston Gutkowski
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Daan Heuvelbeuk wrote:An invoice was only one solution I was planning on incorporating. Another one would be something like XML (ebXML?) or CSV so the client can load the data from my application into their database.

And that would be fine too. But IMO connectivity to known existing accounting software is likely to be much more useful; and they are very specific about how they require their data, so a simple CSV (or XML) probably won't cut it.

An invoice (PDF or otherwise) strikes me as something that your app should provide anyway; the other alternatives have to do with connectivity that your clients are likely to want.

My 2¢.

Winston
 
Tim Holloway
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Connectivity to Intuit software is problematical regardless - I've spend years suffering with it. The only thing that helped worth a wheelbarrow of manure was to partner with a firm who wrote windows-side code that could call us as a web service.

I honestly don't know how they stay in business. Their "export to Excel" function isn't CSV - it's a direct OLE connect to a local-machine copy of Excel. Meaning that if you want to export to some other machine, then you. Or even if you want to do anything but immediate interactive work with a local copy of Excel. If Excel isn't installed on your machine - and I do mean Excel, not some other spreadsheet, then you.

Disclaimer: I used to own Intuit stock long ago. I sold it. Just about broke even. Stopped using it for personal finance when I realized that about the most significant stock transaction it could handle was employee grants. I like gnucash a whole lot better.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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