I'm very happy to announce the arrival of Quartam PDF Library in our stable of
RevSelect products. This library allows you to create PDF documents directly from Revolution. Even better, RR
have negotiated a special introductory price of $99 for this
product, until the end of November.
Earlier, I caught up with the creator, Jan Schenkel, and asked him to tell me all about himself and this latest project from Quartam Software.
So Jan, tell me a bit about yourself, what do you do for a living?
At my day job, I develop such interesting products as Finance, ERP and CRM software - the sort of applications that only an accountant and a manager can get excited about.
How did you get into programming?
My dad had an Apple II and later we had one of the first Macs in Belgium in our house. When HyperCard appeared on our doorstep, I picked it up and started playing with it. I switched my attention from long-dead languages like Latin and classic Greek to programming languages. I started with HyperTalk, then went on to Think Pascal to eventually end up with databases like FoxPro and Progress.
Where did Revolution come in?
When I saw a review of Revolution in MacUser, I downloaded a copy and bought a license in less than 10 minutes: finally, HyperCard done right - database access, cross-platform, colors and Internet access.
At the time, I worked for Professional Software and we were looking for a new development tool to replace our aging FoxPro codebase. We looked at various databases and assorted languages and developer tools and on the basis of our shopping list, were left with a choice between Java and Revolution. We picked Revolution because of the productivity: we could get our research projects up and running in the time it took us to decide that our Java class diagram wasn't going to cut it.
So tell me about Quartam Software, how did that start?
Out of this research for Professional Software came an embryonic version of Quartam Reports - filling in the need that we had at the time for a way to print invoices and statistics from Revolution. I kept working on it, even after I switched jobs in 2004. Eventually, it shipped in July 2005.
Why a PDF product?
As I wanted to add PDF export of reports in a future version, I started to research the format in January of 2006. It turned out that PDF files are basically just a bunch of text instructions that tell the viewer to draw a line here, a curve there and some text in another place.
While I was implementing the library for a first public preview at RevConWest, Trevor Devore approached me. He was working on a project that required PDF export, and wanted to know if I had something like that in the works. He was very happy to learn that I was already working on a PDF library, and was a tremendous alpha- and beta tester throughout the project. Good suggestions, honest feedback and always willing to point out inconsistencies in the library.
After previews at the 2006 conferences, Quartam PDF went into public beta at the end of that year. A group of people reviewed it and helped track down the inevitable bugs.
Trevor is now using the library to provide PDF support in Screensteps, here's what he told me:
"The Quartam PDF Library was the solution we needed to add PDF output from ScreenSteps. The API gives us precise control over placement of text and images as well as the ability to add document and web links. Now we can export industry standard PDF files from within our application providing added value to our customers."
So does this mean you are no longer working on Quartam Reports?
No, not at all! This project began as part of my planned improvements to Quartam Reports, and I have an update almost finished for this. I have a special message to all those patient people who have been waiting and asking for the Reports update: Please, don't visit my house with pitchforks, it really is coming, and Halloween is over now...
What would you say are the best features of Quartam PDF?
Accuracy. As in: you decide exactly where everything goes, and you can express that in points, millimeters, centimeters and inches. Also, excellent graphics support: lines, rectangles, rounded rectangles, ovals, polygons, regular polygons, and (best of all) lovely bezier curves. Really, the best part is that you can create a file that you doubleclick and it looks good, no matter on what platform or in which resolution you look at it.
Is it possible to try out the library before purchasing?
Yes, there is a trial version. You can test all the features and see how it works for you before buying, you just will have the occasional nag message and the output files will be watermarked as trial. I have also included some demos in the library to help people get up and running quickly.
Thank you Jan! We'll bring you news of the Quartam Reports update as soon as it is released. In the meantime, check out Quartam PDF, or buy it now for only $99!