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How to print a document that doesn’t exist yet

At Peecho,
we like to achieve the impossible. We have been printing high quality
products using cloud technology worldwide for over two years now. Now
that’s pretty awesome, and a challenge in itself. But recently, the
crafty guys in our development team came up with a new idea to
facilitate order intake for some merchants: a feature to print documents
that don’t even exist yet. Confused? Read on for more details!

Here’s how it started

Normally, for merchants or publishers to sell prints of a given document
using the cloud print button, the document must be ready and available
in a public URL. Customers visiting the merchant’s website will only be
allowed to place an order when this condition is met. The reason for
this is simple. To save time and costs, we retrieve the document after
the user has paid. If the document does not exist at that point, we must
refund the customer, resulting in a bad user experience. So, to avoid
this, we make sure the document is always at hand.

However, we are sometimes approached by merchants who offer highly
personalized products. For example, consider a Facebook app for users to
print magazines with photos of their friends, status updates and
comments. Usually, a predetermined size and design can be made for their
print products, but the content varies with the Facebook account of each
client.

Creating such custom-made print products from variable content is very
time-consuming, given the complexity of the template and the large
amounts of data that need to be processed. Our merchants don’t like to
keep their customers waiting so they asked: can we allow our customers
to go through the entire checkout process while we prepare their
document? We thought that was a great idea and implemented what we now
call the “parallel source document feature.”

And this is how it works

When customers finalize their payment, we send a small notification to
pre-approved merchants using this feature. This works as a notification
for them to start creating the document. As soon as the document is
ready, the merchant lets us know where we can find it by sending us the
URL where it resides. Then, the Peecho processing engine downloads the
document, makes it print ready and sends it off to the printer.

This new feature is available for both PDF documents and single image
printing. The main requirement for merchants is that we need to know the
width and height of the final document in advance for the ordering
process to be successful.

Are you using this feature to sell prints? Tell us about your experience
in the comments!

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