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Using the Cobwebb Designer

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Questions to ask yourself before you start

(Depending upon which modules your have installed)

Have you loaded the Cobwebb Designer onto your PC? (See Installing the Cobwebb Designer.)

Do you have a test spool file that you can use with continuation pages and all the possible combinations of data?  It also helps if your test data maximises all the field sizes so that you do not miss data when mapping to your output page. E.g. Maximum size Name and Address fields, Numeric data to its highest value etc.

Decide whether you wish to map your spooled file to Print/Fax/Email/File output or an XML schema.

Have you agreed on the final layout of your document and do you wish to use a form overlay?  Decide if you wish the document to be portrait or landscape.  The orientation of your output may depend upon the number of characters that you wish in a line. See the topic Setting up your Output page for details.

Design your form; find a black and white logo (if required).  See the topic on Creating your overlay for instructions on how to do this.

Print the overlay, if you wish to use one, on the printer that you wish to print the finished document.  This will help you to determine whether your spooled file data will fit onto your layout.

What type of printer(s) are you going to use?  Do you support Advanced Function Printing (AFP) or should Host Print Transform (HPT) be used to create a Printer Control Language (PCL) file?  How are they attached to the IBM i?  

Do you wish to Fax or Email your output?

Do you wish to create a File / document from your output in order to archive / FTP the information?

Output Design Considerations

The data from two spool file pages cannot be combined onto one final output page unless you use the Advanced Reformatting Utility which reformats the spool file.  (See Using the Advanced Reformatting Utility.)

Output may be conditional based upon information in your spooled file.

Variable information (up to six parameters at a time) may be retrieved from the IBM i database via an Exit program (API).

Any number of output devices may be specified for each spooled file page. E.g. two printer devices or a fax and printer device.  You may even re-design the output for two different devices.

Different overlays may be used conditional upon Page Number or information in your spooled file.

Spooled files can be split up by, for example, Customer Number.

Naming Conventions

Your PPD file consists of three primary elements as follows:-

PPD file

Image element(s)

Output device(s)

To avoid confusion we suggest that you maintain a generic naming convention as this makes keeping track of each PPD file easier.  For example, for an invoice you could use the following names:-



PPD file


Image overlay


 Additional image


Output device

COBINVPT say for Print

 Additional output device

COBINVFX say for Fax

When you export your PPD file to the IBM i you should leave the default name in order for this naming convention to be carried forward to the IBM i.

Keep the PPD file, image and output device names to eight characters or less.  This is mandatory as the IBM i export can only accept a maximum eight characters.