[buug] Printing mailing labels and forms?

Claude Rubinson cmsclaud at arches.uga.edu
Tue Sep 10 00:48:07 PDT 2002

On Mon, 9 Sep 2002, Bob Read wrote:

> Hey Claude,
>    Could "Star Office" or some other microsoft word
> knock-off for linux be able to print mailing labels
> (though the last time I used star office was 2 years
> ago so I can't say for sure...a quick visit to the sun
> site shows that star office isn't even free anymore)

I've got OpenOffice (which is what StarOffice is now based off of), but
it's like pulling teeth to get OO to do the simplest things so I didn't
even try it.  Brian suggested looking into KOffice or AbiWord, so I might
do that.

As it turns out, having a label with a pre-printed logo is decidedly
non-standard.  The standard "Avery" program (they're the guys who make all
the address labels) assumes a blank label.  After call a few different
copy shops, the best that they could come up with was a complicated
'scan-mask-print' process.  Time consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, my girlfriend saved the day and brought home an antique
device which she called a "typewriter."  It's kind of bizarre -- you don't
actually print anything.  When you type on the keys, a little hammer
strikes the paper directly.  The cool thing is, you can precisely position
where you're going to "print."  Worked perfectly.  I can't believe that
these things haven't caught on.  

> I found an awk solution that you might not have found:
> http://www.linuxselfhelp.com/gnu/gawk/html_chapter/gawk_15.html#SEC203

D'oh!  I've been reading that book (I love awk) -- just hadn't gotten to
that part yet.  I'll look into it, it may be a good solution.  (Also, now
that I've got the immediate issue resolved, I can spend more time trying
to understand the Perl module; it seems pretty powerful).

>    Also, if you like to program, your printer is an
> HP, and the "lp" command works, you could embed "PCL"
> commands in the text, either inline with sed and some
> pipes, or directly into a file, using vi/emacs.
>    Sounds crufty, I know, but actually if you wrote a
> program to do this, the program would be very clean
> (you can stuff the wacky PCL strings into vars like
> "$LINEFEED"), and debugging is a snap (you are sending
> bytes directly to the printer, so you can debug any
> problem by "dividing and conquering").

I actually have a a Lexmark that speaks PostScript natively, so I've been
considering diving into PostScript to attack this issue.  (More out of
curiosity than necessity, now that I've discovered the typewriter.)  
Basically, what I'm looking for is arbitary, precise positioning of print.  
Assuming that one's printer is correctly calibrated, I wouldn't think that
this would be difficult.

As an aside, can anyone recommend a text on learning PostScript?  
Browsing through Amazon.com, there appear to be a ton.


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