The New Standard: DocRaptor

Posted on August 21, 2018, in Our Blog by Seattle Hoo.

While Raising the New Standard is the First Annual HOOS Place Virginia FOOTBALL Season Preview, it is the third publication we have put out.  Last fall when we were putting together the first basketball preview, I basically went without sleep for a week as I rushed to convert all our html posts to a publication-worthy PDF.  It was pretty much a nightmare of manually copying text from all over the place through a text editor and into Adobe InDesign, where I then had to work with InDesign and learn its ins and outs.  Great program, but not really for what I needed to do.  Still, it produced a great output after all that work.  I vowed at the time to find a way to automate the process as much as possible so all we had to do was produce the content.  The process would also need to create the Webzine.  I did not want to have to do everything two or three times.

Creating PDFs from HTML is arcane.  You cannot just open a browser and hit print and have it produce anything legible.  The whole paradigm of web pages is incompatible with the concept of "pages" as in the print world.  The good people who create CSS came up with the CSS Paged Media Module several years ago to help the situation.  Only, nobody supports it.  Browsers only support a small piece of it.  Open source html-to-pdf solutions exist, but they support barely more than the browsers.  You can make a simple pdf from a simple web page fairly easily, but a book?  Once you figure out how to do it, good luck finding any way to actually create the pdf.

Enter DocRaptor.  DocRaptor supports the entire CSS Paged Media Module, and the CSS Generated Content for Paged Media Module.  With just a rudimentary knowledge of the barest basics of the DocRaptor API and the CSS modules, I was able to have DocRaptor automatically generate the pdf with a minimum of grief.  It makes it possible for me to fulfill my oath of having a better way to make the Second Annual HOOS Place Virginia Basketball and ACC Season Preview.  With DocRaptor, we will be able to publish more and better pdfs.  Once I have learned some of the more advanced features, it will be simple to produce both a version for the screen and a print-ready pdf.

DocRaptor's basic level is affordable for a small enterprise like HOOS Place.  Tech support is responsive and documentation is understandable.  Once you set up your API calls and css/html template, the process is completely repeatable.

Thanks to DocRaptor, I am no longer dreading the basketball preview in October.  Now all I dread is StLouHoo's tables.