“You can’t be an expert in everything.” Not easy for someone to acknowledge, but Erik Terkelsen from the production automation integrator Kompetence has no problem with this: “Kompetence focuses on graphic production, automation, workflow and more. Many of the solutions we put in place for our clients, rely on very complex configuration and in some cases, we need to call in an expert for that.”

For one of these clients, the Danish publisher Børsen with a circulation of over 57.000 newspapers a day, Kompetence has repeatedly worked with Four Pees over the last five years.

“We pride ourselves on being subject matter experts for many different technologies,” states David van Driessche, CTO at Four Pees. “While we also do integration work directly with clients in some areas, we prefer working with local partners if at all possible. For Børsen we’ve cooperated with Erik multiple times. Always on very different technologies and always for highly technical subjects. His questions are never boring.”

From complex XML files to automated PDF invoices

So, there was no surprise when Kompetence approached Four Pees in the summer of 2020, for yet another question regarding Børsen. A deceptively easy question this time: how can we take output from the accounting system, and create proper PDF invoices.

Some complexities soon became clear. The Børsen accounting system generates complex XML files for invoicing. Moreover, one XML file can contain the data for many tens of invoices.

The invoice format itself also was quite intricate, with invoice summary information, sub-segments for different publications, different levels of headers and so on. And of course, creating a high-quality PDF file ready for archival or print isn’t necessarily easy either.

pdfChip and Enfocus Switch combination for full automation

Kompetence and Four Pees suggested callas pdfChip to Børsen, a command-line utility that focuses on generating high-quality PDF content fast and very flexibly. It uses an HTML-based template, offering a wide range of layout and customization capabilities. The support for JavaScript in those templates allowed doing calculations on the invoice data, so that it could be presented on the invoice in exactly the correct format.

“The final solution integrates callas pdfChip into the Enfocus Switch environment Børsen already had in place. This allowed handling the complex XML from the accounting system using a Switch script, splitting it up into smaller chunks and sending the data for a single invoice to pdfChip, which then formats it as a proper PDF invoice,” summarizes Erik.

Brian Skibby, Head of IT at Børsen: “With the current solution, we’re not only fulfilling the current request from our customers, but we already have future proof solution in place that allows us to be ready for more advanced customization when needed.”

Prepress solutions for document generation

“One could think this is entirely different from the typical prepress-oriented questions we normally deal with,” comments David: “but this follows a trend we’ve observed for a number of years now. For example, many of the callas tools are used primarily for prepress tasks, but more and more we start using them to also generate more administrative documents that still pertain to the production system, such as proofing templates, shipment or delivery reports, virtual job sheets, invoices… The advantage of flexible tools is that they can easily add value in multiple places in the workflow.”

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