Mini-Review of Print2Flash (Virtual Printer)What is Print2Flash?
Print2Flash lets you easily convert any printable document (e.g. Microsoft Word, or Excel, or PowerPoint document Corel Draw, Autocad, you name it or whatever it is that is printable) to an Adobe ® Flash ® file (file with SWF extension). This file can be shared with users who don’t have the software that created the original document (for example, Microsoft Word). You can view such files with Adobe ® Flash ® Player that is available across a number of operating systems. And these files can be easily published on the Web as well for fast and easy access to them from anywhere across the globe.
Print2Flash generates the swf file together with the necessary html codes to post it to the web. Alternatively you could just attach the swf file to an email and the recipient can view it with the help of an swf viewer or maybe even the browser.
|App Version Reviewed||Version 2.3 Released in Mar 07 |
|Test System Specs||Toshiba Tecra Laptop 1.70Ghz 1GB Ram Windows XP SP2|
|Supported OSes||Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista|
|Upgrade Policy||Free upgrades|
|Trial Version Available?||Trial version of the app is available, but it defaults to the Basic mode. Moreover, for each page of the output, there's a url reference to www.print2flash.com|
|Pricing Scheme||Basic is US$59.95, Pro is US$79.95)|
|Author Donation Link||Not Applicable|
|Reviewer Donation Link||Donate to patteo, the Reviewer|
|Screencast Video URL||There's no Screencast Video URL as usage is quite straight forward. It functions as a virtual printer.|
The links below are in fact the end results produced by Print2Flash as posted on the website :
To really appreciate the power of Print2Flash, I really encourage you to play with the control buttons at the top of the flash file at each of the url below , ie the Grab button (with a Hand), the Zoom slider, the Search etc, and also the last Print2Flash Output which give an example of a lot of text mixed with some graphics at http://www.print2fla.../samples/sample2.php
Output file based on 75 by 113 mm dimensions, 96DPI and Quality at 50
Output swf was 281kb
A slightly higher resolution version based on 100 by 150 mm dimensions, 96DPI and Quality at 80.
Output swf was 376kb
An even higher resolution version based on 150 by 225 mm dimensions, 110DPI and Quality at 60.
Output swf was 593kb
So it's really up to you to play around with the 3 key settings of Output Page size dimensions, the DPI setting and the compression level of the Jpegs to get the desired file size so that the surfing experience is not too slow.
For text output, there would be not much need to compromise at all. See sample from their site.
|Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product|| REVIEWER: I have no link with www.print2flash.com other than as a reviewer of the software Print2flash.|
- The name says it all - Print to Flash
In my last review of Fineprint http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=6519.0
(wait, please don't click the link but read on), I called Fineprint a "Work of Art"
. And I thought it would be hard to find another piece of software shortly, that I would give this same credit.
Believe it or not, I did find one, but also one that can complement each other seamlessly (almost that is). Read on and hopefully you will understand what I mean.
Ever wanted to post a Powerpoint, Excel Spreadsheet, Text Document, or in fact anything that you could print (to a printer) to the internet and have it easily accessible to anyone or at least almost anyone, without them having to click to download a file, or install a special reader or have access to a particular program.
What if you knew how to do that but you wanted to keep the rights to the documents (ahem, just like a museum exhibit) so that while others could view it electronically and search through it, they could not print it, or extract information from it - ie "you can see but please do not touch" if you so desired.
Additionally there's a possibility (more on this later ) that the "controlled" document could be sent via email without triggering a virus warning or blocked by a firewall.
Now you can solve all these problems if you know how to click or execute the Print command.
Of course you can do that with Printing to a PDF, but there here's another way that is really neat, much neater.
What could be easier !! but to use Print2Flash to Print To Flash.SCREENSHOT OF APP INTERFACE HEREMain Screen
It is from the main screen that you get to decide whether to save as Flash, or save as Html in which you get the all the Hthml codes to post to the website. This screen presents itself everytime you use Print2Flash as the default or the designated printer.
For the novice, take note that you need to remember to rename the initial default page (I shall call it default.html) to index.html (all lower case) so that the webpage will be displayed once you browse to the url that the codes are posted to the website.
Default Documents Options (You can only change the options on this screen if you register the Print2Flash in Pro mode. Otherwise, all you see is a series of "greyed-out" buttons that kind of makes you salivate.
So for US$20 more bucks, you can have extra options - you decide whether you want to spend the money on 5 or 6 more Starbucks Cappuchino.Basic Vs Pro Comparison
Once installed, you can access it also just like you can access any installed printer through the Windows Start Menu.
[attach=#4][/attach]Who is this app designed for:
Anyone who would like to be able to publish a document that exist in another format (such as Powerpoint or any Application that can print a document) to a webpage easily.
Anyone = Webmasters and ordinary computers users like fellow donationcoders, visitors who has any need to publish a printable document to the web and still want to retain control of the contents.
You could also distribute the generated swf via email (although you may face some issues like users being blocked by Internet Explorer)The Good
You already got your documents in one form or another such as a Word, Txt, Spreadsheet, Powerpoint etc. And now you want post it on the web and you want to make sure they can access it without any intervention by you, and without you sweating your fingers converting or worse retyping or recreating it.
You also want them to be able to search, but not copy the contents or print it.
And you want to be able to magnify it and still have very good resolution.
Now that is certainly a tall order, unless you have Print2flash
Just convert it to Flash.
The beauty of it is that so long as they have a web browser (and who doesn't) they can read it, search it etc. And it would not be blocked by firewalls, anti-virus etc.
Theoretically, one can send the swf via email without triggering a block by an anti-virus program or firewall and then the recipient can view it offline with a standalone swf viewer. But really, I have not tested how effective this would be.Programmatic access to the document
With the Pro version, you can also have programmatic access to the document via the API provided. This allows you to fine-tune how you would like your viewers to access the documents.Co-existing with/Complementing Fineprint
And interestingly, you could also use Fineprint ( if you own it to enhance the output - yes you could of course use Powerpoint, Word or which ever native program the document is generated in). That is you first print to Fineprint and from Fineprint you choose Print2Flash as the Output printer.
After looking through this review, you can check out the review of Fineprint http://www.donationc...dex.php?topic=6519.0
But do take note that some of the enhancements made by Fineprint does not pass through to Print2Flash correctly, such as "Angled" Watermarks and some of the graphics seems a bit pixelated and shadow text does seem out of line - But this is not the fault of Print2Flash as it is likely just the way Fineprint is designed. You may have to test them together to work out compatibility issues.The needs improvement section
Initially, when I started testing Print2Flash 2.2.1 (which has just been superseded by Version 2.3) , I was a little surprised that the swf files were rather large. So I tweaked the properties page to adjust the DPI down and also change the page size (after all in Flash, it is rather scalable without becoming blur and distorted). But somehow, the change in settings did not take effect until I discovered that I had to make the changes to the settings through the printer applet before it will "stay as set".
After that, the files were very much smaller. In fact one file dropped from 24 MB to 333k when I set the page to 2 x 3 inch and 96DPI from a setting of A4 and I think it was 192 DPI. You have to adjust the DPI setting to achieve the desired results.
Anyway, this problem is no longer critical to me with Version 2.3 which was just release in end Mar 07 where you can control compression of the graphics although I think it would still be useful to set the DPI.
Though there's nothing wrong with Print2flash, however, it would be nice if
1. We could add our own logo and url. Currently, it only allows adding Print2flash logo and url or none at all.
2. We could allow copying/printing only of certain defined pages - now it's an all or nothing option.
3. It allowed the addition of customized actionscript to the output. For example, allow the user to add a line that restricts the swf to a particular website. So that the swf will not work if it's placed in a different website. This would be a nice addition to the Pro edition since protection of content is one of Print2Flash selling points.
4. Some additional skins for the converted documents were available.Why I think you should use this product
This is not only a cross format converter but also a cross platform converter. That it, you can have a foolproof method to convert all printable documents into a format that easily display in a web browser (with Adobe Flash installed - and that mean literally 99% of all internet enabled computers) and of course on Macs.How does it compare to similar apps
It's direct competitor is Flashpaper from Adobehttp://www.adobe.com...products/flashpaper/
Flashpaper also allows you to print to a PDF, but this is no real advantage as there are that many freeware application that allows you to print to PDF. And if all you want is to print to PDFs without too many options to tweak to the file to be put on the PDFs, you probably can find a free PDF printer out there.
But Print2flash Pro has several options (not available in Flashpaper) that allow you to tweak the output like removing the Print2flash logo so it would not be a distraction, disabling printing, disabling copying, Option to show search box, compressing the graphics, batch processing, API interface etc.
Arguably, printing to PDF is an alternative, but the experience is really totally different as the PDF cannot be integrated into the webpage and the downloaded PDF takes the reader always from the webpage he/she is viewing. Now that to me, is not a good idea as it can become a distraction - and you have lost the "eyeballs".Conclusions
When all is said and done, Print2flash is another "Work of Art"
, just like Fineprint and they can work together reasonably well (with some exceptions). But they can work totally separately too.
I would give it a must buy for many of us here or at the very least, "must try" http://www.print2flash.com/download.php
It may not save you physical ink like Fineprint can, but it can certainly save you lots and lots of time
when you wish to use digital medium like the web to communicate with others, yet not have people easily copy and print your materials and also not be stopped by firewalls, antivirus apps, and having people install another viewer or reader (which is really a show stopper).Links to other reviews of this application
I did not find any other review other than those that regurgitate what is found on the Author's site.Credits
The screenshots were done with Mouser's wonderful Screenshot Captor http://www.donationcoder