Architecture of Oracle Application Express PDF Printing

Oracle Application Express allows you to configure a classic report region to print by exporting it to an Adobe portable document format (PDF), Microsoft Word rich text format (RTF), Microsoft Excel format (XLS), or Extensible Markup Language (XML). By taking advantage of region report printing, your application users can view and print reports that have a predefined orientation, page size, column headings, and page header and footer.
Oracle application Express
In the releases prior to Oracle Application Express 4.2.2, the report printing functionality requires an externally defined print server such as Oracle BI Publisher, Oracle Application Server Containers for J2EE (OC4J) with Apache FOP, or any other standard XSL-FO processing engine. PDF printing using APEX Listener as a print server has been added as a third option in APEX 4.2.2.

All of the PDF printing options in APEX share the same underlying architecture. When an
application user clicks a print link on a report, the request is sent to the Oracle Application Express engine. The APEX engine then generates the corresponding report data in XML and transfers this XML to a print rendering engine along with an XSL-FO or an RTF style sheet. Based on the style sheet, your data gets formatted, rendered in PDF and then downloaded to your browser.

Configuring PDF Printing in Oracle Application Express

With the latest addition of APEX Listener based printing, now you can use any of the following

three different options for PDF printing in Oracle Application Express:

  • Oracle APEX with Apache FOP
  • Oracle APEX with BI Publisher
  • Oracle APEX with APEX Listener

Oracle APEX with Apache FOP

To use this option, you must configure your Oracle Application Express instance to use the FOP
print server. Oracle Application Express includes a supported configuration of Apache FOP in conjunction with Oracle Containers for J2EE. The Apache FOP installation is included in the Oracle Application Express distribution under /home/oracle/utilities/fop/fop.war. After installing this war file, you need to configure Oracle Database to enable network services for APEX to call out to the FOP rendering engine through utl_http. Oracle Application Express Instance administrator has to enter the server URL and script information under the Manage Instance > Instance Settings > Report Printing in the APEX instance administration. Once this is
setup, developers can enable PDF printing on their classic, interactive reports, and report queries. With the Apache FOP option, you can use either the generic built-in XSL-FO layout or a custom report layout.

Apex PDF Printing

Oracle APEX with BI Publisher

This option requires a valid license for Oracle BI Publisher. With this configuration, you have all the capabilities available with Apache FOP configuration plus the ability to define RTF-based report layouts developed using the BI Publisher Word Template Plug-In. This provides easy graphical control over every aspect of your report. You can add logos to your pages, add complex control breaks, and have full pagination control. You can even embed charts and create reports that look exactly like standard government forms.
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