pathetic is 6 degrees too gentle

June 20th, 2005

Have you ever tried printing a web page? How did it turn out? In most cases crap, right? And you've noticed that rarely do pages that aren't made for printing actually turn out okay, haven't you? Exactly, that's why most publications offer two versions of every story, one for online, another for printing. But what if you need to print a bunch of pages that weren't made for it? And what if you need the target format to be pdf? I don't recall who said it originally but the answer is : you be fucked.

First of all, let's examine the printing capabilities of the popular browsers.

  • Firefox: fonts are molested, formatting is abused, no f. way
  • Mozilla: slightly different result but same principles apply
  • Konqueror: has the best printing capabilities since it uses the KDE print subsystem but the fonts are even more off than in Gecko browsers and don't get me started on how it handles images with some medieval scaling rules
  • Opera: looks halfway presentable but javascript comes in your way and it still looks nothing like the original with forms and tables on the page

So while the first 3 all render very well on screen, they do a total stinker of rendering the print version. I don't know why it is so hard. Opera is the only halfway acceptable choice, but it screws up forms big time and has lots of other "interesting" quirks.

So I decide on Opera, I choose A4 for paper format but what do you know, it still comes out in f. US Letter format. So I have to print with Opera, convert the ps to pdf, then open in kpdf and print from there into A4. For every friggin screenshot. Of course, since there is a conversion between letter and A4, some degree of scaling is being done and the images look crap. So while all my other reports look excellent, the screenshots look like they were made by a 4-year-old.

Examine the result yourself. Compare this, a report written in lyx and compiled into pdf, to this, a collection of screenshots printed through opera-kpdf. Use Adobe Acrobat Reader and have fun zooming.

So much work has gone into browser engines, we have several of them used by the big boys and web rendering is generally excellent these days. So why is it so fucking hard to print a web page?????????????????

Oh yeah and I spent 6 bloody hours on getting this pathetic end result.

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2 Responses to "pathetic is 6 degrees too gentle"

  1. Erik says:

    Yikes. Six hours...

    I would add more but I never really tried

  2. numerodix says:

    Oh believe me..