How to get PDF from IBM AS/400 or iSeries cheap and easy
If you run anything on AS/400 (iSeries), for example Mapics or JDE ERP
or anything else, you will find out one day it would be fine to get reports as PDF file
and save it for future reference or to send it somebody by email. Maybe you would like to
keep hardcopy of purchasing orders or you would like to send them to your vendor by email.
There are many reasons why we would like to get PDF file from AS/400 spool. I personally
hate dotmatrix printers especially when there is color LaserJet available in the office :)
Update Feb 2013
Bellow mentioned solution still works even I wrote this article few years ago. I
received many emails from you, it works and you are happy. Anyway since that time I did
the next small step for me but the big one for my customers ;-)
Based on requests from my customers I developed modern Windows style applications working
on AS/400 data. Users do not see green screen anymore (wow!), they works instead in very
friendy applications, they have data displayed in very convenient way. They could print,
export to Excel or PDF, analyze, change, mass change, import prices etc. from
external text files ... In fact they view and work on many datasources at the same time.
Some data comes from AS400, some from another systems like MES or accounting IS or WMS.
Users do not take care, they just need to see "the situation" to do the correct
action, and do it simply and with no space for mistake.
Some my apps just work as very modern viewers to data, some apps work as full featured
frontend to AS400.
I created dashboard style application with a lot of gauges and charts to provide overall
views. Managers can see now simply what they didn't dream before (e.g. estimation of
future inventory levels, material shortages warnings highlighted by different colors
depending how serious the shortage warning is, perfomance of each individual buyer, how he
manages his orders and inventory, ...).
As an eample of full featured application I created planning software. Planners for some
strange reason love to work in Excel and then they retype plan ERP just to give MRP the
"food", you may well know that ;-) And any plan change means hard work. Now they
works in my Excel like application, which is very easy for them to use. But this is not
Excel in fact :-) Many various information is picked up from AS400 like customer demand,
onhand, itemmaster etc, to give to planner all relevant info he needs to know to create
and tune production plan. Immediately as he types qty into "Excel-like planning
sheet", such info is saved back into AS400. Very easy to change/postpone the plan,
very easy to see overall plans, very easy to see capacity usage, easy to check if the plan
was produced yeasterday..., if you are planner/scheduler you know.
Another example is EDI and WebEDI. No need to buy expensive EDI software desinged for
AS/400. There is another much cheaper even more flexible way. The same is true for WebEDI
portal for smaller vendors. Another example is MES solution working on AS400 data but
looks like state-of-the-art very modern Windows application using ribbons, pivot grids,
multilevel grids to simply drill down, charts etc.
Not sure if you need more details about that. If yes, let me know (see contact info on the
bottom of this webpage) and I may write other articles dedicated to such solutions giving
to users more info, saving time, saving money, saving headcount.
When you need PDF, you will usually ask your IT staff to provide such
IT guys have basically three ways how to reach the target:
1/ they will ask your AS/400 supplier to give them quotation for pure "AS/400 spool
to PDF" solution. I could bet the quotation will be expensive, but if you are rich
company, no problem.
2/ or they will try to look at web and search themselves for PDF conversion tool. Pretty
easy to find such software, but usually it is not cheap, anyway cheaper than solution no.
1. Mostly solutions are designed to run only on AS/400 with all those pros and cons.
3/ or they will use their brain and will try to install cheap, flexible and user friendly
solution. And many companies already have such tool but nobody think it could be used for
Cheap, flexible and user friendly solution
I've met the problem "how to get pdf file from AS/400" when
customers asked us to send them debit notes by email. The traditional way would be to
print out and put inside the scanner and scan it. And there are many companies
"converting" AS/400 hardcopy reports into electronic version this way. Maybe you
know that from you office, right? :)
Some of them don't use PDF yet, they are at the stage when they print out from the spool
and scan to TIF, oh great photo version of your report,just 4MB but who cares. Nobody
explained to users what is the difference between TIF and PDF.
Well, I have checked the website and ask our IBM consultants for any
advice or solution. As I already mentioned above, their solutions were cumbersome or
expensive. But usually cumbersome and expensive :)
A few days later I was asked to set up to my colleague network laser printer as AS/400
printer. I was easy job. Just to create new "AS/400 desktop icon" and set up
properties. At that time when choosing proper network printer I could see as an option in
the list of available windows printers our virtual PDF printer driver as we use pdfFactory.
pdfFactory is cheap software its price is about $30 for licence depends
on total number of licences you buy. The biggest advantage of pdfFactory is that it seems
to be usual printer in your Windows. What do you print to that "virtual printer"
is converted to PDF file and could be saved or sent by email. Easy for users, easy for IT
admins. There is local version running on singlePC or you can buy network version looking
like network printer.
We are users of pdfFactory Enterprise edition, it is network version. Therefore when
installing to my colleague his printer via AS/400 desktop icon I could see pdfFactory
printer as one of choices.
I have tried to set up pdfFactory printer as printer visible in AS/400
writes and after some effort it really works and we are using that method long time
How to set up, almost step by step how-to
I will not explain in details how to install pdfFactory to your PC and
how to set up. It is easy, but you should ask your IT staff to avoid any discussion with
them later :)
If you do not have pdfFactory simply go to www.pdfFactory.com and download trial version (download size is about
2MB). And install it to your PC with Windows operating system.
Then restart your PC to make sure your PC will save configuration and load all libraries
needed to operate. After restart try to print anything from any application to pdfFactory
printer which is now available.
It should work so I will skip details.
After installation, new printer "FinePrint pdfFactory" will appear in your
Now we will set up pdfFactory to operate as AS/400 printer. If you know
how to do, skip following section
Simply create new AS/400 desktop icon by right clicking anywhere on your
PC desktop and from popup menu select New -> AS/400 desktop icon (I assume you have
installed IBM AS/400 Client Access)
Set in the combo box "PC5250 Emulator" option like on the screenshot bellow.
Select "PC5250 Emulator" option
Click Next and select AS/400 system address or name. Usually it will
offer to you the same AS/400 system name used by your Client Access. If you see IP address
or name, simply click Next. If not, ask you IT staff for AS/400 name or IP address.
Dialog to set up which system to connect to, usually it will show the correct name. Do
not take care and click Next.
Type icon text of your choice, something like PDF printer, this text will be displayed
a caption bellow the AS/400 icon on your desktop. Of course, you can change it later.
Simply click Finish
That is all for icon configuration. After you click "Finish"
new icon should appear on your desktop. If you also use "PDF printer"as icon
text (we set up that in the step 3) you may find something like me. See the screenshot
New AS/400 desktop should appera after you finish steps described above.
Now we will configure printer setting. Doubleclick the icon and
"Configure PC5250" dialog window should appear. In this screen input
"Workstation ID:". Workstation ID will be the printer name visible in AS/400.
You can name it for example as MYPDF.
Select "Printer" as a "Type of emulation". You can change "Host
code-page" setting but usually it is setup automatically.
Input "Workstation ID:", for example MYPDF.
And select "Printer" as a "Type of emulation".
Then pls. click OK. Dialog window should disappear and you may see
AS/400 logon window. In that case input your logon name and password. In some cases no
logon window is displayed. And you should get AS/400 screen lookingh like following
We need to configure the page and set up printer settings. Click to STOP
Now we have to set up pdfFactory driver as output printer for AS/400. Open File menu and
click to "Printer Setup". New dialog window will open.Click to "FinePrint
pdfFactory" printer name and click to the button "Setup"
Click to "FinePrint pdfFactory" to highlight and click to "Setup"
In Properties dialog set paper size of your choice, usually letter or
A4. Checkbox "Emulate printer" and in the combo box on the right select any
printer you usually use. Like HPLJ2300. If you do not check box "Emulate
printer", then you may face problem with margins on exported PDF file.
And you have to change "Show dialog" to option " no - no view, no
send". It has to be set this way as AS/400 cannot raise usual pdfFactory
print preview window
Now we have to set up folder for storing PDF file created automatically
by AS/400. Let's move to "Settings" card - simply click to "Setting".
And click to "Folder locations" button.
Type or browse your favorite folder for storing PDF files. It could be
for example C:\Pdf or G:\Pdf or any folderon your local PC or even on your network. Then
Type folder for storing pdf files created by AS/400 and click OK
Now click to the button "Save all settings now". And
close dialog window by clicking OK buttun.
Save all settings by clicking to "Save all settings now" button
Open File menu again and select "Page Setup" as we need to set
up paper size used to calculate PDF virtual paper size.
Set up everything to by same as on the screenshot above. Later you can try to change
Set up form size. I set up A4, but in US or UK you may prefer letter or even different
No need to change anything. But you can later try to change some setting like to
switch on using raster fonts or printing bold as normal.
Well, that is all we need to set up. Simply close AS/400 session window
and start it again by clicking to the desktop icon.
Try to sign on to your AS/400 application (e.g.Mapics or JDE), go to your spool and print
your report to printer named MYPDF.
After a few seconds new document.pdf should appear in your folder you set up in the steps
before (I used G:\PDF).
What to do if it does not work?
1. print to pdfFactory printer from any Windows application, e.g Excel.
If it works go to step 2, if not try to fix the problem as you would do with usual Windows
2. is your PDF printer AS/400 session running; looks like green screen with square window
Both Ready and On-Line must be green. If not restart the session.
3. If session is OK, check AS/400 WRKWTR, you should see the name of your PDF printer
within the other printers installed on AS/400 and the status must be "STARTED"
4. Usually the problem is in report format. PDF printer is set up to use A4 or
letter but you print from AS/400 different format. In this case the document raise
"Message Waiting" in the spool. Simply type 7 (messsages) and the G as Go and
enter. Document should be saved in PDF file.
If you find troubles, let me know. And I would be happy to hear any
feedback from you.