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The RenderX sales team created several cool tools - called CoolTools - to stimulate thought and exchange new ideas about things that can be accomplished with XSL FO (XSLFO) and RenderX XEP:


The Document Magnifier

We put together a quick XSL for magnifying documents. As with most CoolTools, this one relies on the XEP Intermediate Format (XEPOUT). There are several ways to get XEPOUT format. To format a modified XEPOUT, one just passes it back through RenderX XEP. The document is not recomposed, only the final output is generated as this final process from XEPOUT to output (like PDF or PostScript) is very fast and takes very little memory.

What is not documented at the above link is that there is also an XEPOUT element called "xep:transform". It is not documented, because, while it is built into the XEP Engine, there are no constructs in XSL-FO that currently cause this element to be created. However, that neither stops us from telling you about it nor prevents you from using it in various projects.

The <xep:transform> element allows you to apply affine transformation to all content that follows this element. Since we are looking for scaling, we could insert something like this in the XEPOUT document to scale the elements that follow:

<xep:transform a="2" b="0" c="0" d="2" e="0" f="0"/>

If the above <xep:transform> element inserted into the XEPOUT, it would scale all content following it. The scale would be "2" (double the size), because "a" and "d" (scale X and scale Y respectively) are 2. You should note that all attributes work – this element allows you to scale, translate, and rotate.

We also need to change the page dimensions to accommodate the size. We could write an easy identity-translate to operate on XEPOUT and scale pages. By the way, choose different values for scale X and scale Y, if unproportional scaling is what you want.

Give it a try!

Full text is available here.



Using Google Maps API and RenderX to insert dynamic maps in PDF

This example is a complete XSL template for generating a Google map image on the fly.

Disclaimer:  You should always review Google's policy. Google has restrictions about what you can do with their APIs. This example is provided for educational purposes only.

This is a general set of XSL templates to generate a Google Map from source address information. This process works by first submitting the address to the Google Geocoding Service which returns an XML file containing additional information. This additional information includes the latitude and longitude of the specified location. This XML is loaded into a variable which is an internal XML document and the nodes processed to extract the needed data. The coordinates are parsed from the XML document and passed to the Google Static Maps API to generate an image with a marker at the address provided. Various other parameters can be set, including the zoom factor, image size, and map type.

A sample PDF is available here.

Full text is available here.


Using Google Chart API and RenderX to generate dynamic charts

This CoolTool XSL produces the formatted URL for an <fo:external-graphic/> object. It takes as parameters all the information needed to format a nice looking pie chart.

Google has a publicly available chart server. You can get more information on the Google Chart Server API here.

All the parameters which govern the look of the pie chart are passed through the URL, and the Google Chart API returns a PNG image of the chart. These parameters include the data and labels, as well as the colors, size, orientation, and type of chart (2D, 3D, and concentric for pies).

While we do have some nice style sheets we use to generate dynamic SVG pie charts and bar charts, we also wanted to share you with you this simple, reusable style sheet that you can include in any project.

A sample PDF is available here.

If you wish to play for yourself, here is some sample data which contains sample XSL and the CoolTool XSL.

Full text is available here.


A style sheet for converting Excel XML format to XSL FO (XSLFO) tables

Our internal invoicing system used a method of converting Microsoft Excel to XML data and passing that data to RenderX XEP to format. So we decided to bump it up a little and put together an XSLT to convert Microsoft Excel's XML format to XSL FO (XSLFO). Since Microsoft Office 2003, Excel has had a function to save an Excel spreadsheet in XML format. This XML file is a self-contained file: It has all the data and all the styling in the structured content.

We decided that we would focus on the Print Area range – that is the only information that is extracted from a spreadsheet. This also allows us to use Excel's Print Titles feature to create XSL FO (XSLFO) table headers. We are not doing any calculations, so we just skip the formulas and use the stored values to create our table. Lastly, we implemented it such that you can just reference the XML Excel document and use the document() function to process this whole thing to an XSL FO (XSLFO) table.

This example is just a basic example, and you are welcome to improve it.

Sample PDF output is available here.

Download the package here.

Full text is available here.


"N-up" processing of pages

This example shows how to place several pages on one page (sheet) by manipulating XEPOUT format.

In the "n-up" case, the custom transform goes through the XEPOUT for any document and makes a new XEPOUT with say 4 pages for each page. Copying <page> elements from the input document and pre-pending two supported XEPOUT elements -- <transform> to move the page locations and <translate> to scale the page content to the proper size (in the case of 4-up, 1/4th the original dimension).


Short primer on XEP Intermediate Format


RenderX XEP produces output from XSL FO (XSLFO):

XML + XSL -> XSL FO -> XEP Software -> PDF, Postscript, AFP, XPS, XHTML, and SVG ...

Most people write XSL to get to XSL FO from XML, others write XSL FO directly from some application. RenderX gets from XSL FO (XSLFO) to output by producing internal structures of the page output representation – the document result tree. This is called the XEP Intermediate Format or XEPOUT for short. XEPOUT can be serialized to disk.

If we "peak under the covers" into "XEP Software", we would see:

XML + XSL -> XSL FO -> (XEP Formatter -> XEPOUT -> XEP Generator) -> PDF, Postscript, ...

The XEPOUT file is an XML that represents the entire document structure. It contains a <document> element and also <page> elements and <text> elements and <image> elements and much more. As long as you do not violate the XEPOUT format, you can manipulate its content and send it back to XEP.

So consider the applications here:

XML+XSL -> XSL FO -> XEP Formatter -> XEPOUT -> My Custom Transform/Application -> New XEPOUT -> XEP Generator -> PDF, Postscript, ...

There are many things that can be done – from the very, very simple to the very complex. There have been many other applications written that leverage this ability. Use your imagination… and, if you have something that you think cannot be done, ask us.

Full text is available here.


Scale to fit images

Some users need a way to scale down images to fit within a constrained space in both dimensions. We have created a solution set that uses the current technology for this purpose.

The basic solution consists of running RenderX XEP in a way to process only the images and gather information on the actual image size from the XEP Intermediate Format (XEPOUT). Then one can run RenderX XEP again with the main style sheet and use that information when formatting the document. This can of course be done in a tool chain with two commands (instead of one) or through the API and passing parameters.

All of this can be executed from a simple batch (.BAT) file. The XEPOUT file is generated automatically, used in the second transformation, and then deleted. In the case of some users who are dynamically generating PDFs, certainly the XEPOUT file can be generated in memory and passed as a parameter to the second transformation.

Just sample XML and XSL without images is available here.

The whole package with images is available here. (7 MB)

Sample output in various sizes:


Full text is available here.


March 5, 2011
XEP 4.19 released

New extensions for RichMedia in PDF,
sticky notes and file attachments, and
overprinting. Extended XSL1.1 scaling
attributes, and styling for bookmarks.
XForms output, support for SVG in XPS
generator, and other improvements.

More news...

March 1, 2011
RenderX at 2011 AIIM

Visit us in Booth #1820 and #1109 at
the Walter E. Washington Conv. Center,
Washington D.C., March 22 - 24, 2011

More news...

February 22, 2011
VisualXSL 2.4.2 released

Improved support for large designs.
Fully configurable custom template
generation. UI related bugfixes
and table editor improvements.

More news...

December 8, 2010
VisualXSL 2.4 released

Support for external EXSLT library -
Mvp.Xml EXSLT.NET module. UI & logic
related bugfixes. Improved XSLT security.

More news...

October 19, 2010
VDPMill 3.4 released

Major release: a GUI application
for full job control, lots of usability
improvements, and bug fixes.

More news...

September 27, 2010
XEPWin 3.0 released

Release enables better utilization
of computational resources in multi-
core environments. XEPWin 3.0 also
contains improvements in configuration,
error reporting and XEPWin API.

More news...

September 8, 2010
EnMasse 2.3 released

EnMasse is now easier than before!
The Windows version includes
a graphical configuration editor
with built in validation support.
The platform-independent version
was shipped with command-line
installer and configuration script.

More news...

August 25, 2010
VDPMill 3.3 released

Release brings job queuing application
with an XML-RPC interface, VDPMill
Control Panel as a console to configure
and run VDPMill components, a user-
friendly GUI application to create
VDPMill job tickets.

More news...

June 3, 2010
VDPMill 3.2 released

Release includes XML job ticket support
as the main format for GUI application
project files, customized post-
processing (OMR, Transpromo) support
for separated/joined output.

More news...

May 4, 2010
VisualXSL 2.3.1 released

Release includes JavaScript for
radiobuttons and action buttons
in PDF forms, further improvements
over Undo operations, and several
display problems.

More news...

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