Alfresco Spool Files to PDF Converter AS/400 (Split and convert to TXT and EXCEL)

Bring your large volume spool files into the electronic age. Integrate with any protocol and get direct-to-Alfresco PDF documents auto-organized in seconds.

The Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter addon was developed by Skytizens to assist enterprise companies with digital migration.  By moving away from print-focused ERP systems like AS/400 or SAP towards a fully-electronic back-end system, you can go green and boost efficiency without losing legacy data. Processes that use SPOOL/SPL files get smoothly integrated into the modern system. As a bonus, we fixed a long-standing issue with Asian script alignment that was affecting brand identity in B2B relationships. Now you can cleanly convert TXT spools to PDF, mine metadata, and auto-organize in seconds.


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What is Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter?

The Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter addon takes SPOOL/SPL files from ERP systems like AS/400 or SAP and converts them to PDF. During the conversion process, this addon also executes a number of other parallel tasks. It follows control codes, extracts content for metadata properties, assigns a new file name, dynamically creates a folder structure, sets permissions for access to the folder, fixes issues with script alignment for Thai and other Asian languages, and handles files via multiple protocols. This addon allows enterprise companies to use legacy spool servers and convert TXT files into a compatible format for modern systems. By bringing spooled data into the electronic age, your company increases efficiency on former spool jobs, maintains consist branding during digital migration, and makes your company a little greener by cutting down on paper printing.

Why is Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter so important?

  • Digital migration– clean conversion of print-friendly AS/400 spool file to PDF electronic version
  • Save time – view, send, and print electronic files in seconds
  • High efficiency – generate up to 100 spool files within 5 seconds & rev up your down-line handling speed by going electronic
  • Business continuity–create multiple formatted templates for all e-printing needs and select custom mono fonts to make e-documents look exactly like the legacy printed file
  • Multilingual support –proper formatting of Thai script and other Asian languages (Khmer, Lao, Burmese, etc.) by calculating the proper spacing within documents and kerning between letters
  • Go green – cut down on paper print jobs by migrating to electronic document output

The Benefits of Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter

The Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter addon is designed to assist companies with digital migration. It helps you handle data related to big print jobs from spool file systems such as AS/400 and SAP. It allows you to migrate from physical printing to electronic document management in Alfresco. It supports every control code typically interpreted by the printer. It makes it easy to use, share, and print PDFs of formerly spooled files. It converts SPOOL/SPL files to PDF and handles metadata extraction, file naming and organization, permissions setting, and sharing via multiple protocols in a single action. Fully-automated batch mode receives files from external system to Alfresco and automatically splits and converts to PDF, even with large volume tasks. Once the PDFs are created, this module safeguards your data security by allowing for manual and automatic permissions settings based on regular expressions. From compatibility to accessibility, the down-line efficiency of getting spooled files into electronic format cannot be overstated. Also, it’s nicer on the plant because you waste less paper.

The Skytizens Alfresco team went one step further to resolve a printing issue with Thai and other Asian scripts (Khmer, Lao, Burmese, etc). In spooled print jobs of the past, Thai language appeared as an exploded view with vowels and other markings appearing on lines above and below the text with distorted spacing. Printers of the past were unable to deal with tone marks, vowels, or diacritics (ไม้ไต่คู้, ทัณฑฆาต, ฟันหนู etc.) written above and below lines of text, especially in conjunction with English script. Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter automatically identifies Asian script, positions the script on the page, and properly aligns page content for a document that is read correctly and looks professional in both electronic and printed format.

How Does It Work?

The Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter addon works by creating a powerful intake folder within the Alfresco system. This folder automatically converts all newly uploaded SPOOL/SPL files into PDF by receiving files sent via integrated protocols and/or API.

Spooling is a specialized form of multi-programming that has been used for copying data between different devices. Essentially, SPL files are written to cache data before and while it is being serviced. Before the electronic age, Spool files were a common format used by high volume print ERP systems like AS/400 and SAP. Working as a buffer to prevent congestion, spool files were created during large output print jobs such as account statements generated by ERP and other systems

Supported by a wide range of integration (using protocols like FTP, SFTP, WebDAV or API like REST, SOAP) and even the ability to use Alfresco Virtual SkyPrinter, this addon makes spool files compatible with electronic storage.

In the past, branded external-facing documents such as invoices and account statements went from the computer system directly to paper printing. Now, you can print in electronic format to the Alfresco Document Library. This addon follows seven steps during the conversion process:

  1. Reads and follows control codes* – identifies characters in the first column of text and translates the code meanings for legacy print software
  2. Converts to PDF – digitizes TXT, script, and formatting using digital letterhead when necessary; construct multiple templates within the system to digitize different document formats
  3. Asian language script support – identifies Thai or other Asian script, positions the script on the page, and properly aligns page content via automated pixel spacing settings created by Skytizens especially for the Thai business market
  4. Automatic properties extraction** – locates data in a string, word, or phrase of text using regular expressions and assigns this content to specific Alfresco Properties
  5. Alignment of data display – choose mono-font, font size, line spacing and kerning (spaces between characters) to align the page formatting according to your business requirements, including branded images as background (e.g. a blank account statement with company logo)
  6. Assigns name title, location and custom properties – creates file name, folder, and dynamic filepaths based on document properties
  7. Sets permissions – access to sensitive data is controlled by Alfresco settings; for example if a branch is listed as {spool_branch} this Alfresco addon can dynamically assign groupGROUP_C1_BRANCH_{spool_branch} to the specific folder and file to safeguard your data security
  8. Multiple protocol execution – ability to send spool files via multiple protocols such us FTP, SFTP, webDAV, SMB/CIFS, RESTful API, etc.

* First Character Forms Control (FCFC)  or control code is a set of symbols used in older printers, especially dot matrix software, appearing in the first text column of an external document. These control code symbols have meanings that tell the printer how to properly format text on company letterhead:

‘ ‘ Space one (1) line (blank code)
0 Space two (2) lines
Space or skip three (3) lines
+ Suppress space (print on top of the previous line AKA tab up and type)
1 Skip to channel 1 (Form Feed or New Page AKA insert a page break)

How does it work? The control code (max chars/line: 115) sets the script width to 115 characters per line per page. By following this and other coded directions above, the TXT document gets printed with proper alignment and looks professional as a result.

** Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter uses regular expressions to automatically extract specific data from the document file.  Regular expressions help Alfresco to identify properties and assign them as the correct metadata.

For example in this expression chart, REPORT NO\. ([A-Z0-9]+).* is the regular expression that identifies the Report Number within the text of a document. Here it is found on Row 2. This module searches the text file in the designated row for anything that reads ‘REPORT NO\.’ and takes the alphanumeric text after the period (.) to assign the report number. It is then defined as the value {group2} in the electronic output version. Thus the Report Number has been extracted.

Next, the same process runs using REPORT NO\. ([A-Z0-9]+)(.*?) PAGE NO.* for Name from Row 2,*?As At ([0-9]?[0-90])/([0-9]?[0-9])/ ([0-9][0-9][0-9][0-9]) for Report Date from Row 4, BRANCH ID :- ([0-9]+) for Branch ID from Row 5, and so on with the data extraction labels you have configured. The data can be automatically trimmed, meaning that empty spaces before and after the target text is cut. As the text is defined, their values are used to construct the properties of the resulting file.

Regular expressions are also used to automate the permissions setting process. This module allows you to set access permission based on the property of an incoming file. This module works with two types of permissions configurations. First, the organization rule can dictate permissions based on sorting via the folder building process. Second, rules can be set according to file properties which are extracted by the module. These two permissions configurations can be stand-alone or used in conjunction to provide pinpoint data security.

When two or more servers upload spool files at the same time, you can set automated permissions to trigger different sorting actions based on the files’ extracted names.  For example, using regular expressions direct the module to send files with ‘Branch ID A’ to a folder pre-configured with permissions according to Branch A staff organization. Meanwhile, files with ‘Branch ID B’ get sent to a folder with different permission setting. Despite a central repository, multiple folders stay protected according to different access levels in the Alfresco permissions settings.

Regular Expression: .*? (for any type of file name)
Name: {spool_no}-{spool_name}-{spool_branch}
Title: if you configure {spool_branch}-{spool_date2}, the title will be 001-07-04-2020
Path: {spool_branch.substring(0,1)}/{spool_branch.substring(1,2)}/{spool_branch}

The configuration above will take the first character from the Branch ID / 2nd value / 3rd value (which is just the full branch name) and create the folder structure based on the regular expressions used.

Using control code as well as visual comparison along with the Print Preview feature, enterprises have the ability to build the main structure of electronic documents in order to match their standard printed stationery. This includes complicated structural documents with column formatting.

Now that businesses don’t need physical copies of every document, this addon allows enterprise companies to continue using legacy spool servers and convert formerly spooled text data into a compatible format for the Alfresco Document Management System (DMS). This addon outputs an electronically-stored PDF file with automatically extracted data in seconds.

Main Features

Output Template Settings – Create multiple templates for all your e-printing needs. Using adjustable elements, Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter allows for creation of a template to visually match previously printed materials. Working from an uploaded image (e.g. a blank account statement) you have the ability to configure a logo in the upper-left, arrange columns with proper spacing, and input client information such as account balance and activity from your CRM. Once constructed, this template is saved for future regular use. Each layout element has the ability to Add New, Remove All, and Help.

  • Layout
    • Paper format (A4, A5, etc.)
    • Margin top (measured in pixels)
    • Margin bottom (pixels)
    • Margin left (pixels)
    • Encoding (UTF-8, TIS-620, ISO 8859-11)
    • Line height (pixels)
    • Space between characters (pixels)
    • Background image (Select, Upload PNG)
    • Result document orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
    • Font
    • Font Size

Control Code Definition – Identify control codes and define actions.

  • Page breaks (document cutting, page parsing)
  • Row control correction (-, O, +)
  • Document parsing
  • Line parsing
    • Number
    • Code
    • Row
    • Regular Expression
    • Order Action Priority
    • Margins
    • Values

Asian Script Auto-Fix– Software-based settings for Thai and other Asian language scripts (Khmer, Lao, Burmese, etc.) and English text to appear in-line without limitations on location or graphic formatting

  • Line correction – Identify script located on disparate lines
    • Number
    • Control Code
    • Row
    • 1st top layer (tone marks, diacritics)
    • 2nd top layer (vowels)
    • Bottom layer (vowels)
    • Order Action Priority
    • Remove Action
  • Correctly positions Asian script on the page using overwriting and spacing rules
  • Properly aligns remaining page content

Automatic Properties Extraction – Properties parsing involves locating specific data in text and assigning data to Alfresco Properties metadata

  • Number
  • Property
  • Row
  • Regular Expression
  • Value
  • Order Action Priority
  • Remove Action

Auto-Organize – Automatically applies to all files uploaded to the designated folder.

  • Create name – assigns file name from extracted data
  • Assigns location – creates folder and dynamic filepaths structure based on document properties
  • Auto-Organize Rules – Edit and configure rule(s) application.
    • Rule name
    • Rule description
    • Define Rule using When, If, Unless configurations
    • Perform Action
      • Rule
      • Select Spool File Rule (Report, Cash, Statement, Type, etc.)
      • Root Folder Path (Select)
      • If the destination file already exists (Rename, etc.)
      • Sky Remove
    • Disable Rule
    • Rule applies to subfolders
    • Run rule in background
    • If error occurs, run script (select from dropdown menu)

Automatic Data Permissions Setting – Sorts and sets permissions to documents and directories. This feature is compatible with Alfresco Permissions Control Groups.

  • Document type
  • Number
  • Property
  • Regular Expression
  • Name – re-name using properties
  • Title
  • Path – builds dynamic folder structure
  • Order Action Priority
  • Remove Action
  • Inherit permissions – Toggle ON/OFF to distinguish from auto-set permissions on folder alone.
  • Auto Default Level – set permission level default (e.g. Site Collaborator)

Folder Permissions – Inherited permissions aredisabled. Admin must set permissions based on extracted data and regular expressions: User/Group; GROUP_C1_BRANCH_{spool_branch} -> as site collaborator

Document Permissions – Inherited permissions are enabled. Permissions from the sorting folder are applied.

Print Preview – Generate in-window document preview using the real-time configuration set. This is useful before applying template to production.

  • Select
  • Upload
  • Preview

Batch mode – send files from external system to Alfresco and this module automatically splits and converts to PDF, even with large volume tasks.

Custom Spool Search –Integrated dynamic search of spool files in the Alfresco Document Library uses properties extracted during Auto-Organize. This feature allows for fast searches in large volume folders (search by Branch Name for example).

  • Search Parameters using document name, rule, test, etc.
    • Keyword
    • Content
    • Access Group
    • Type
    • Contains
    • Add parameter
    • Advanced Search
  • Search Results displays info at a glance.
    • Name
    • Parent Folder
    • Creator
    • Branch
    • Name
    • Report Number
    • Report Date
    • Actions
    • Trimming – remove spaces before/after text in original file

Permissions Control – Access to this addon is managed by Group and Role.

  1. Group Access – Permission to use the module is given by the client’s administrator by designating members of a group.
  2. Role Access – Permission to use this module on certain files is given by file managers based on role access in the system.


The Alfresco Spool to PDF Converter addon was developed by Skytizens to assist enterprise companies with digital migration.  By moving away from print-focused ERP systems like AS/400 or SAP towards a fully-electronic back-end system, you can go green and boost efficiency without losing legacy data. Processes that use SPOOL/SPL files get smoothly integrated into the modern system. As a bonus, we fixed a long-standing issue with Asian script alignment that was affecting brand identity in B2B relationships. Now you can cleanly convert TXT spools to PDF, mine metadata, and auto-organize in seconds.

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