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Feature request: Print templates

Last post 01-15-2012 2:04 by jrfinkel. 5 replies.
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  • 12-08-2011 22:07

    Feature request: Print templates


    First of all, I want to thank all the people who have developed the methodology and implemented the VS-based support for it.  ORM is, far and away, the most powerful modeling tool I have used because it is understandable by the client.  It uses the language of the problem domain and does not overwhelm subject matter experts whose eyes glaze over when confronted with most other models.

    This said, the VS implementation is deficient when it comes to printing the model.  It needs the following functionality:

    1. The ability to print all pages at once, rather than having to print one page at a time
    2. The ability to scale the diagram so it is more readable
    3. The ability to add (and style) text blocks
    4. The ability to add headers and footers
    5. The ability to use tokens (e.g., for the name of the page, date, etc)

    I think that much of this can be facilitated by creating page templates.

    Thanks for listening.

    /Joel Finkel


  • 12-09-2011 5:11 In reply to

    Re: Feature request: Print templates

     Hi Joel,

    Thanks for your suggestions.
    I agree that this aspect of NORMA could be improved and we are looking into it.

    In the meantime, I work around the limits of NORMA's existing printing capabilities by using Word as my report writer.

    For small areas I use Norma's built in zooming capability (press and hold Ctrl then use the scroll wheel on the mouse) to select the area of interest and then use Snagit to cut and paste into Word.

    And of course you can also use the existing  HTML report writer (rt click on the drawing surface then select "Generate Report".)
    I find the html report very helpful for reviewing all the fact types and semantic object types with non-technical domain experts.

  • 12-09-2011 21:37 In reply to

    Re: Feature request: Print templates

    Hi Joel,

    I'm glad you've found the tool and methodology to be useful. Regarding the full model printing capabilities, this is a known issue with NORMA, which has a grand total of 4 lines of printing support. Unfortunately, the Microsoft-provided base classes do not have support for multi-diagram printing, and I haven't been able to set time aside to write custom printing code (reflecting on the DSL internals shows about 3000 lines of printing code that I would have to replicate).

    Having said that, as part of expanding our tooling to enable better online use and model sharing, I have a web-based diagram viewer that generates an svg-based web page (in modern browsers, GC/FF/IE9) showing either individual or complete diagrams loaded from .orm files. The page can easily be printed to PDF or directly to a printer. I know this isn't quite the same as printing from inside NORMA, but I just can't prioritize the printing within NORMA right now.

    I don't have the web viewers publicly posted yet, but would like to remedy this before the end of the year. Eventually, the model viewer will be expanded to include verbalization and other NORMA model browsing features. For now, you just get the diagram, not the ancillary verbalization and property information. Online editing scenarios are also on the horizon.

    Unfortunately, Word doesn't interact nicely with SVG out of the box, so you would need to continue with the 'Copy Image' commands to get the WMF formats. The html svg rendering is at least as sharp as NORMA. The only thing I don't currently render is error display.

    I had not thought about adding customizable header and footer information to these pages, but it could be done at the html level when the page is generated.

    The diagrams can be zoomed using the context menu or the Ctrl-Shift +/-/0 keys (note that browsers use Ctrl +/-/0, but those key bindings caused conflicts in VS). You can also use Ctrl-Shift left/right mouse buttons or ctrl-shift mousewheel for zooming. You can turn on the 'Diagram Management' extension to save diagram zoom information and support diagram reordering.

    Text blocks can be added in the diagram using the 'Model Note' tool on the toolbox and the ORM Note Editor tool window, but there is currently no formatting support for this text information. Although I agree formatted text would be nice to have it is a pretty low priority right now.

     Hopefully that gives you some idea of where we're headed with this. Please feel free to comment further.


  • 12-21-2011 20:42 In reply to

    Re: Feature request: Print templates


    Thanks for all your work.  I sort of suspected that printing support was limited because of limitations in the base classes.  It's certainly out of my skill set, or I would offer to help.


  • 01-14-2012 17:30 In reply to

    Re: Feature request: Print templates

    Hi Joel,

    I've now posted the web-based .orm file viewers. There are two viewers:

    You can use both viewers for local files (if you're using a local-file-capable browser, not IE8 or IE9) and for viewing .orm files available on the web (see server configuration instructions at

    Additional printing options should be pretty easy to add.


    PS Be sure to print preview to make sure your diagrams fit on the page. Vertical overflow is printed on the next page, but horizontal overflow is chopped. Use the zoom dropdown to shrink things down (page zoom doesn't change the printing). Eventually I can look at zoom control on each page, and possibly aspect control and automatic sizing. I've tested this with the BullZip pdf printer driver, and Terry has tried it with Adobe drivers and it appears to be fine.


  • 01-15-2012 2:04 In reply to

    Re: Feature request: Print templates


    Really nice work, and very helpful.  I will play around with it over the next few days.

    Thanks so much!


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