[reportlab-users] General questions about ReportLab

Frank Millman frank at chagford.com
Wed Aug 27 02:42:49 EDT 2014

Hi all

I am writing a business/accounting application for general use. Reporting 
plays a very important role in such an application. Having looked at various 
options, I decided quite a while ago that when I was ready I would use 
ReportLab. I am now at that point and I am starting to play with it.

This post is not about what RL *can* do, but rather about what it cannot do. 
I had assumed that when I got down to it, RL would enable me to satisfy all 
my reporting requirements. I now think that this was naive. I would like to 
spell out what I am looking for, and hopefully get some pointers to 
solutions where RL is not the answer.

1. As I understand it, RL allows a user to generate a report in PDF format 
and save it to a file. If they want to print it they must call up Acrobat 
Reader and print it from there.

There are times when a user wants to run a report and send it to a printer 
straight away. I have read a bit about installing GhostScript, using it to 
convert PDF to PostScript, and sending it to a PostScript printer. Is this 
the recommended solution? Are there any examples?

What if the printer does not accept PostScript? I use an HP1150 LaserJet, 
which uses PCL5. Acrobat Reader can print to it with no problem. Would I be 
able to do the same from RL?

2. In order for me to print directly to a printer, I need to know which 
printers are available. Is there a cross-platform way of enquiring from the 
system which printers are installed? If not I can create a database table to 
store printer information which the user must fill in manually. At a minimum 
I would need printer name and page size. Has anyone done this?

3. Is there a cross-platform way of actually sending a stream of bytes to 
the print spooler. Is 'lpr' the answer? Does it work on Windows?

4. Some users still want to print invoices on multi-part paper on a 
dot-matrix printer. Can PDF be used for this at all, or must I come up with 
some other solution?

5. Print previews - I have written the client side of my application in 
Javascript, so that it will run in any browser. Is there a way of generating 
a PDF file from RL and displaying it in the browser, without writing it to a 

I have plenty more questions, but this is enough for now. Any input will be 
much appreciated.

Frank Millman

P.S. I see that ReportLab's offices are in Thornton Road, Wimbledon. I was 
brought up in Worple Road, and I went to school in Edge Hill. Small world 

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