Mainframe PDF

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The Computer Center is replacing mainframe hard copy print production with an electronic representation using PDF formatted documents. We have modeled our new service, called “Mainframe PDF Service”, after the physical bin/locker system that existed in North Hall. This service will automatically route customer output into their department's folder (think of it as a “Virtual Bin”) on the Mainframe PDF Service server system, based on the ROOM NUMBER supplied in the output instructions. Customers will be granted password protected web access to their Department's folder for document retrieval.

Instructions For Accessing Your Mainframe PDF Output

Computer Center Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff

The Computer Center Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff includes members of our Systems Group and Unix and Office Systems Group. The customer support contact for this service will be:

Support will be available during regular business hours (8:00 AM- 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday excluding UCSB Administrative holidays).

Department Primary Contact

Each department using this service will identify one individual who will speak for the department and reflect the department’s position on appropriate aspects of this service. This individual will periodically be asked to participate in discussions regarding this service. This individual will also act as a “collection point” for problems related to this service and will, then, convey these issues to the Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff.

History – Our Old Hardcopy Printing Process

In an effort to explain our new Mainframe PDF Service it might be helpful to explain how our old “Hardcopy Printing Process” used to work.

Let's use output sent to ROOM 99 as our example. A print job may specify up to 4 characters for the ROOM number, i.e. 99, 099, 0099. Some customers choose to encode the initials of the person to receive the output into the number, i.e. 99KG. In all these cases, Computer Center Operations’ staff would print and bag each print job, and then place it in bin 99.  Our customer would walk to North Hall, unlock their bin, and take the output back with them on whatever frequency they wish. Finally, Operations staff sweeps through the bins looking for output older than two weeks, and puts anything found into recycling.

Our New Service

General Considerations

Our Mainframe PDF Service uses a combination of commercial software and custom programming to provide conversion of mainframe print file to PDF and document routing based on the ROOM NUMBER specified in the mainframe job’s JCL.

Please note that ROOM NUMBER information is provided in a number of different ways by mainframe jobs. These include user-edited jobs, hard-coded applications, and dynamic look up from user profiles at program run-time. Our Mainframe PDF Service output routing and naming have been designed to accommodate these varying methods with reasonable flexibility.

Each department using this service will be issued a numeric bin, if they do not have one already. Those who were using alphanumeric bins will be issued numeric bins, one per department. Those departments wanting to further separate PDF files can append initials to the ROOM NUMBER field. This will result in output being deposited into a subfolder of the department’s virtual bin. (Examples provided below).

We will issue a single password-protected link to for each department’s folder that will provide access to that folder and any subfolders. A department may choose to have one or more persons monitor the department’s primary folder for new output. They can then retrieve and share these PDF file via email, file server, print to hard copy or whatever sharing mechanism they wish to use.

Departments will need to check their departmental folder for new output, much as they would have walked to the Data Center when they expected output to be ready. Folders can be searched and/or sorted by date to easily see the latest output.

Our New - PDF File Creation Process

Our Mainframe PDF Service automatically converts mainframe job print output into a PDF file.  This process attempts to retain the fonts and layout as accurately as possible. The PDF file creation process is inserted into the output print processing, and requires no changes to jobs by customers in nearly all cases.

It is a requirement of the Mainframe PDF Service that a Job Name be alphanumeric. This convention is required to ensure successful conversion of mainframe print jobs to a PDF file. Job Names that include special characters (such as, for example: #, &, *, %, $) violate the Job Name requirement and will not be allowed.

The resulting PDF file is named as follows:
ROOMNUMBER_JOBNAME_DATE_TIME_JOBID.pdf 

As an example, a job submitted with:

  • Room Number: 99
  • Job ID: J0000001
  • Job Name: ABCD0001
  • Date: May 5, 2010
  • Time: 8:10:15 PM
Will produce a PDF file named:
099_ABCD0001_5-10-2010_20-10-15_J0000001.pdf

The system will parse the ROOM specified, file the PDF in the folder for that ROOM, and create subfolders for output where initials are provided.
For instance output sent to:

ROOM 99, 099 or 0099 would be deposited into folder ./099
ROOM 99KG would be deposited into a “KG” subfolder of 099. i.e.. ./099/KG/

The PDF converter can process output data sets up to 160,000 lines or 4000 AFP pages, dependent on the amount of print data and the specified form type. In PDF terms this equals a maximum size of approximately 60MB and 3800 pages. Output that exceeds these limits will be requeued. The job that creates the too large output will need to be modified to produce a smaller output dataset, perhaps 2 sets instead of 1.

Service Accounts

Access to department PDF files will be provided and administered by the Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff. The department’s Primary Contact should coordinate any items related to access with the Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff.

Workstation configuration

Access to our Mainframe PDF Service requires a Web browser.  Most all popular browsers should work fine. The PDF files located there will require the use of a PDF viewer (Adobe Reader is available at Adobe.com). Configuration of departmental workstations, operating systems, communications protocols and network connections required to access and work with the Mainframe PDF Service’s PDF files will be the responsibility of the department’s workstation support staff. The Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff will provide technical information and details necessary for connecting to the server system.

Data Management

PDF File Purging

On a regular basis, we will purge all PDF files residing on our Mainframe PDF Service server system and older than 14 days. Once a file has been purged, it will not be recoverable. This mirrors our old practice of recycling printed output left in a bin after 14 days.

System Recovery

Our Mainframe PDF Service server system will be backed up on a regular basis, but recovery will be strictly limited to “disaster recovery” (the loss of the entire system). Requests for individual file restoration will not be accepted.

Trouble reporting

Customers experiencing a problem or a loss of service should report this to the Department’s Primary Contact. If the Primary Contact believes the problem resides our service they should contact the Computer Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff. The Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff will work with the department’s Primary Contact to understand and address any problems reported.

System Procedures

Restoration of Service

Our support efforts will be limited to normal business hours and days (8:00 AM- 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday excluding UCSB Administrative holidays).

Corrective Maintenance and System Development

The Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff will reserve a “maintenance window” Thursdays, 6 AM – 8 AM to make necessary system changes.  During this period the server system may be unavailable. Service outages, system changes and corrective procedures necessary for proper system performance will be coordinated and scheduled with the departmental Primary Contacts.

Miscellaneous

Large PDF File Printing

Both Fedex and The Alternative can provide printing for large PDF files. Departments should contact these entities directly for assistance.

Other Considerations

We believe our Mainframe PDF Service introduces a great opportunity for business process improvement, data sharing, archiving and eliminating waste. We will be glad to consult with departments on how this service can be useful to their business process improvements.

The PDF creation process is for use by existing mainframe data center print customers and their jobs currently printing. Any additional use of the Mainframe PDF service beyond this initial focus must be discussed and coordinated with the Mainframe PDF Service Support Staff before being initiated.