Convert FM layouts

We are emotionally attached to designing output with FileMaker layouts, but there are several places where this is just not possible, most notably WebDirect, FileMaker Go and runtime files.
We are also limited by the built-in functions for creating PDF files, when there are many simple tasks which would improve the usefulness of our output

How would it change your thinking if there was a way of extracting layout information from your existing files to allow it to be used with iText, to create PDF files anywhere FileMaker was the enabling technology?

The real mindset change here is to differentiate between ‘static’ objects on your layout, and the ‘variable’ elements.
If you take an invoice or order: static would be logos, titles, lines, shading, labels & variable would be name, addresses, date, lines items etc.
If you then created a PDF file with all the static elements on, this can easily be used as the ‘background’ to a file that you create from text elements (and even images) at absolute positions on the page so they line up perfectly. This is a technique we have been using successfully for several years across a wide range of client applications so know that it works efficiently.

Pilot project

Some while ago we started working on a method of taking the information required to do this directly from FileMaker layouts, running it through two functions and a helper file, to create the variables which are needed to pass to a function which then recreates the end result from code.

Just to give you some idea of the fidelity possible the left is the original FileMaker layout and the right is some work in progress at interpreting this automatically with iText code.

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