Oracle E-Business Suite printing made easy with Pasta!

by Kenny Miller, Principal Consultant for Rocela

This one is for my fellow EBS veterans who’ve spent more time than they’d like to admit fiddling with application printer settings. Maybe, like me, you’ve been aware of Pasta but have been too busy to find out what it is and how it works.

Necessity is indeed the mother of all invention so, when recently faced with a challenging printing requirement, I was forced to find out all about Pasta. I liked what I found, so I thought I’d share my experiences with you.

The Requirement

My client is upgrading from R11 to R12. In R11, they only needed to print text output directly from the concurrent manager. However R12 comes with many more standard XML Publisher reports, so they now have a requirement to print PDF output.

My client also has hundreds of printers, from many different manufacturers and of different vintages! More specifically the requirement was:

1) Print all text and PDF output directly from the concurrent manager.
2) Print in PCL because:
a.  Not all printers support PostScript.
b.  Not all operating system print queues are enabled for PostScript, even for printers that actually do support it.
3) Minimise the amount of application set-up changes required.

So what is Pasta?

The following is taken from the System Administrator’s Configuration Guide:

“Pasta is an Oracle E-Business Suite utility that converts text report files to PostScript and also enables the printing of custom PostScript reports from Oracle E-Business Suite. The reports can then be directed to any PostScript printer.

Setting up your system to use Pasta is much simpler than the standard Oracle E-Business Suite printer setup procedure. The Printer Type, Printer Driver, and SRW driver files are provided. The only setup required to begin printing is the registration of the printer with Oracle E-Business Suite.

Many printing options can be defined using the Pasta configuration file (pasta.cfg). You no longer need to maintain multiple drivers and styles for each printer.

Pasta is provided as an executable named FNDPSTAX.”

I make no apology for copying this – it’s actually a good summary of Pasta. However the first paragraph only mentions PostScript i.e. converting text to PostScript, printing custom PostScript reports to PostScript printers etc. Mere mortals may have given up at this point, thinking Pasta is only about PostScript and isn’t able to do PCL. Yours truly is made of sterner stuff, and decided to have a look “under the hood” to find out what Pasta is really capable of.

PostScript or PCL?

Well, “out-of-the-box” Pasta actually does neither! All it’ll do is print text!

However, the Pasta configuration file does provide a “pre-processing” option, which can invoke any executable that supports an input file and an output file. Therefore, executables such as pdftops and acroread can be used to convert PDF’s to PostScript, or Ghostscript can be used to convert PDF’s to PCL!

The default configuration file is $FND_TOP/resource/pasta.cfg and by adding the following line to this file, PCL printing is enabled for both text and PDF output:

preprocess=gs -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pxlcolor \

-dNORANGEPAGESIZE -sOutputFile={outfile} {infile}

In summary, this is using the Ghostscript executable (gs) to convert the input file to PCL. The device switch of pxlcolor tells Ghostscript to convert to colour output in PCL XL format. PCL XL (also known as PXL) is part of PCL version 6 which was released by HP in 1996, and should therefore be supported by all modern printers.

Problem Solved

My client is now able to print text and PDF output in a variety of different print styles, to printers from different manufacturers. To do this, all that was required was the following:

1) The change to pasta.cfg described above.
2) Changing the printer type to the seeded:
–PASTA Universal Printer Type
3) Bounce the concurrent manager.

Sounds too easy!

It would be very time-consuming to test all combinations of print styles and printer types; therefore you need to be realistic enough to expect the occasional anomaly. Pasta caters for exceptions by providing:

1) Printer specific configuration files.
2) Printer Driver specific configuration files which can be specified in the arguments for the Printer Driver.
3) A combination of Printer and Printer Driver specific configuration files!

If you’re able to successfully print output from the command line, then Pasta will be able print the same output from the concurrent manager.

Summary

I’ve found Pasta powerful but simple to use. If you already know your way round EBS printer set-ups then you’ll take to Pasta like a duck-to-water. Even if you don’t, it’s well worth investing some time to better understand it. It’ll be well worth it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: