Friday, August 14, 2009

Symfony batch and i18n + pdf generation

A few months ago, I wrote a post about i18n in batch and pdf generation. At that time I could not find a way to manage translation in symfony batch (for example when you need to send email to customers, etc...). In Symfony 1.2, batches are depreciated in favor of tasks but my project is still in symfony 1.0 (and I guess the same can be applicable in 1.2). Anyway, I finally found a way to do it:
$I18N = sfContext::getInstance()->getI18N();
echo __('text to translate');

I am not sure if it is the best solution, but it definitively works.

On the pdf side, I was mentioning that in order to generate invoices in pdf, I created some pdf invoice templates with Open Office Draw. Following this step, I was able with Zend_Pdf to generate PDF files on the fly based on my templates. The big problem with this solution is that you have to positionned all your text at the pixel and cannot manage things like multiple lines text and so on. You end up writing a lot of stupid code and anything you want to modify you have to try again and make sure it works (and when you manage several languages it can even be more complex). Anyway I managed to do it like this for the billing system used in East-Timor but I always wanted another solution. I did find some promising project but nothing yet reach a usable state to my knowledge. However, I found to interesting projects:

  • odtPHP: it is not as such a pdf generator but it looks fantastic to generate open documents easily with a templating system. It is great and I am sure I will use it soon. Once you have an open document, it is a piece of cake for anybody to save it as pdf...even my grandma could do this ;-)

  • Podr: it's a kind of open office server to generate document on the server, including pdf. However it seems only working on windows and quite heavy installation, I am not sure if it is a good solution. Anyone using it?

odtPHP looks like a clean and nice php class and it should be easy to integrate in symfony. On the client side, if you do not have open office (or any odt compatible solution) you can simply install a plugin for Microsoft Office to support open document formats (it seems it is even native support in Office 2007 service pack 2): or

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