Forms migration on UNIX- almost the end!

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Posted by Hafed | Posted in Forms, oracle | Posted on 11-11-2008

We are almost at the end of our Forms migration to  10g on IBM AIX. I received some emails regarding the points to watch out for. As you can imagine by reading the previous posts, the migration as the forms module are concerned should not take that long especially if you use JDAPI. Somme annoyances here are mostly with WEBUTIL functionnalities that you need to implement (replacing host, file transfer, image treatment etc.)

However, before even starting the project, you need to do a THOROUGH assessment of your current application and how it is being used. Please be as thourough as you can get in this phase. Otherwise you might have big surprises later on. We have had some really nasty surprises during our journey and that was mainly due to printing on AIX among other things.

First thing to consider is the application server and the platform you selected for hosting it. If it is Windows, then no major hurdles here. If you move to a LINUX/UNIX/AIX platform, then you will be dealing with the PRINTING problem. Direct printing is no longer available in 10g and the alternatives are not worth looking at (direct print PJC and orarrpt). I am talking here about mission-critical applications.

Second problem is the font problem. Expect major headaches here since your developers will be working on Windows machines and your reports are deployed on a LINUX/UNIX/AIX machine. Fonts are not the same and you will have to work on getting the same fonts on LINUX/UNIX/AIX. Not an easy task.

If you have some special printing requirements like we do and I mention here specifically printing on special papers, special paper sizes, automatic printing on designated printers and duplex printing, then you are in for a surprise and a big one I might add. Those are not possible straight out of the box and you will have to do some really nast setups on your report server.

I have spent about 3 days trying to find solutions on those simple requirements. I am still puzzled that there are almost no mentions about those issues on the OTN forums or anywhere else. Either people are not using IAS on LINUX/UNIX/AIX or I am missing something here. At any rate, I thoroughly searched Metalink for answers and came up almost empty handed.

I managed to work out solutions for those problems but it has been tough. I will document the solutions we implemented in an upcoming post.

Finally, the other major problem deals with all the tweaking you have to perform on the forms and reports server. There are so many small things to watch out for and which will take hours to fix. Now, if you get a firewall in the loop and most likely you will have one, then expect some further tweaking to get everything working.

Anyway, a lot of fun if you move to a LINUX/UNIX/AIX platform.

Based on all of the hassles we went through, I am tempted to say that LINUX/UNIX/AIX is not really a good option if you have some real printing to do through your application. Better to stick with windows 2003 or 2008. At least Microsoft has put in place a platform that works.

Where to get help: OTN, Metalink and double check whenever you suspect that litlle looking parameter in that configuration file ….

P.S: Did I mention that all our reports are in French and that characters with accents are replaced with greek characters when printing using Postscript straight to the printer. What a waste of time just to get that one line somewhere stating that you can’t get those accents unless you convert your postscript output to PDF and then print it using the PDFPrint plugin.

Solving the Oracle Reports 10g fonts problem

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Posted by Hafed | Posted in Forms, oracle | Posted on 16-10-2008

Finally, we were able to solve the Arial Italic and Bold problems. Using  Metalink Note 261879.1, it was relatively straightforward to add the font.

The steps to follow are:

1) Transfer the Arial fonts (ttf version) from Windows to UNIX. Make note of this directory.

2) Use the open source program ttf2afm to generate Adobe Font Metrics (AFM) files for TrueType (TTF) fonts.

3) Modify reports_path to add the fonts directory.

4) Make sure the AFM file for the italic version does not have the (-) sign for the slant angle.

5) Update the ALI file to add the Arial font in [PDF] section. Check the version of the ALI file mentionned in the Metalink Note 261879.1

6) Restart the reports server.

These steps can be used for any font that you want to add to your reports server setup.

UNIX Fonts and Oracle Report server: a never ending nightmare

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Posted by Hafed | Posted in Forms, oracle | Posted on 09-10-2008

One of the more frustating experience you can have when migrating to Oracle Forms 10g is the fonts problem.
In Oracle Forms 6i, users are generally standardized on Windows and in this way, they have access to the usual fonts such as Arial, Times Roman, Courrier and Courrier New. When printing reports, either direct or through a PDF, the same fonts are used as is and the output is a true copy of the rdf.

However, on 10g and if the server is UNIX-based, then a whole number of issues will arise. The first one is due to the fact that the usual Windows fonts are no longer available on UNIX. Second, the fonts on UNIX are quite limited and in this case  fonts  such as Arial are outputted as Helvetica (in reports server terminology, this is refered to as subsetting, embedding etc.).

Now, if you really want to have the same fonts you have in your RDF, then you need to install those fonts on UNIX.  This is where it becomes quite nightmarish. In our case, we were able to get either Arial bold or Arial Italic but not both at the same time, at least for the time being.

To solve this font problem, We are  following these Metalink notes:
NOTE:261879.1 Configuration Script to add Common Windows Fonts to Unix 9i, 10g R1 and 10g R2 Reports Server
NOTE:272063.1 Using Reports PDF Subsetting, Font Size and Styles Bold, Italic, Bold-Italic Are Ignored
NOTE:419045.1 Italics are Reversed and No Bolding of Arial Font on Sun 64-bit