PIPrint – A Free Direct Printing Solution for your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

...and Now for Something Completely Different

…and Now for Something Completely Different…

Some of you might recall that this blog is not limited to posts about Echelon/NES meters, and know it is actually for all kind of stuff Graves and I am dabbling with. Granted, lately it’s been mostly about our Echelon/NES project – but we have not stopped dabbling with other stuff too :-).

You might know that my day job is to develop solutions in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (I’ll call it BC in this entry), and for some time I had an idea I would like to share with the community:

As some of you might know, the BC web client and Microsoft’s chosen path has made it quite an expensive challenge to do direct print (direct print is when you do a print directly to a printer – without the user having to i.e., download a PDF and then print it manually).

Microsoft do have a solution called Universal Print and BC supports it along with e-mail enabled printers. You can read more about both solutions here! The main problem – if you printer does not support e-mail printing, is that Universal Print is quite expensive.

Others also have solutions for this – and it might even be included in something more advanced like ForNAV Direct Print.

But why didn’t someone design and do a cheap, Do-It-Yourself solution?

…and – if you are on BC SaaS, but still need a simple, cheap solution to print on local and cheap printers? Or even Network printers that does not support e-mail printing?

And off cause we should try to keep it as cheap and simple as possible – and don’t rely on any special ports to be forwarded and open in firewall etc. That is simply too cumbersome for regular users to setup!


BC App – maybe a Per Tenant Extension?

Well, imagine installing an app on your BC that collects all printjobs as PDF and store them in a BC table. Then making them available through a webservice of some kind… While at it we could do a secondary webservice allowing “Print Processors” (I’ll explain what that is in a minute) to register printers with BC, so they are available for printing directly in BC.

We must do it, so we are able to install and use it for both BC OnPrem and BC SaaS, right?


So, what is this “Print Processor” thingy and what does it run on?

Well, it is something that can obtain a list of available printers and call a BC webservice to tell BC about them. It should also call a BC webservice at some interval to see if there are any print jobs (PDFs) waiting, and if so – fetch the PDFs and print them. For the last part we can simply rely on solutions other created – it cannot be that hard to print a PDF, right?

Ideally the “Print Processor” should be available on multiple platforms, it only has a few requirements:

  • Connect to the network so it can call BC webservices (Internet if BC SaaS)
  • Call webservices and handle the result
  • Connect to the local printer (network, USB etc.)
  • Print a PDF to a local printer

Ideally it could just be some kind of script? Python for Linux and other Unix like systems (some NAS servers even run Unix like systems). And maybe PowerShell for Windows while we are at it?


Really – how hard can it be to pull this off?

Well – https://github.com/DabblerDK/PIPrint

This is in NO WAY final “production” quality software, but feel free to use it on your own costs and risk and build on it.
Release it commercially, use it privately etc.
Please always keep a reference to this blog somewhere people see when they use it. And please give back any improvements to the GitHub repository and the community…

Enjoy…

Sendmail/smart host – this time with Microsoft Azure and SendGrid.com

FreeBSD logo

Hi,

As mentioned here, my internet service provider (ISP, Eniig) has announced that they will not provide a SMTP relay host (outgoing Simple Mail Transfer Protocol relay), and on top of that they earlier stated that they will not even setup reverse DNS on my fixed IP. They recommended smtp.dk and it has worked flawlessly since I configured it at described here!

Unfortunately (for them) smtp.dk seems to have raised their prices for their low quantity “Emails To Go”-subscription, and that makes one wonder if one can get it cheaper than DKK 0.02 per e-mail :-).

It seems that if you create a Microsoft Azure account (which is free as long as you don’t use services you need to pay for – well, in fact it is even cheaper than free – they give you some introduction credits you can test their paid services with 🙂 ), you can create a free SendGrid.com account with 25,000 free e-mails a month! (even if you need more, they are still way cheaper than smtp.dk).

Just like smtp.dk, SendGrid.com requires you to use the SMTP submit port (587) and authentication. But we already solved that for smtp.dk as described here, so that should not cause too much hassle :-).

I just did it like this:

1.
Add a API Key on SendGrid.com using menu “API Keys” after logging in.
Give it a good name so you know what it is for.
Optional: Create it with “Restricted access” and only grant it permission for “Mail Send” / “Mail Send”.
Make a note of the “API Key” as it will only be shown during creation (you cannot get it afterwards).

2.
Create /etc/mail/access with this contents (terminate it with a line break):

smtp.sendgrid.com       OK
GreetPause:localhost    0

3.
Create /etc/mail/authinfo with one line (terminate it with a line break):

AuthInfo:smtp.sendgrid.net "U:root" "I:apikey" "<You SendGrid API Key>" "M:LOGIN"

…replacing values in < > with the API Key you made a note of above.
Hint: You can leave other logins in here for safekeeping if you want to (like your smtp.dk details).
I feel most secure by making this file rw for root only

4.
Run makemap of the two fils to create access.db and authinfo.db-files:

makemap hash access < access
makemap hash authinfo < authinfo

5.
Correct your sendmail.mc-file (whatever it is called on your system). Add these lines:

define(`SMART_HOST',`[smtp.sendgrid.net]')dnl
define(`RELAY_MAILER_ARGS', `TCP $h 587')dnl
FEATURE(`authinfo',`hash /etc/mail/authinfo')dnl

Note: You should change this for the sendmail queue runner process, not a SMTP submit service etc.

6.
Compile your sendmail.mc file into a sendmail.cf file. This is easily done on FreeBSD 🙂

make cf

7.
Restart sendmail. Again – this is easy on FreeBSD

make restart

Also: remember to correct your SPF and similar setups on your domains according to SendGrids documentation. You’ll find SendGrids SPF documentation here!

Sendmail/smart host with mysmtp.eu/smtp.dk

FreeBSD logo

Hi,

My internet service provider (ISP, Eniig) has announced that they will no longer provide a SMTP relay host (outgoing Simple Mail Transfer Protocol relay), and on top of that they earlier they stated that they will not setup reverse DNS on my fixed IP – so with these two (really bad) decisions in mind, I had to come up with a solution.

By the way – Eniigs reason for not providing SMTP relay servides anymore is that they apparently cannot manage to have such a server in production anymore because of SPAM anti measures etc. Really? An ISP not having the resources and knowledge to run a SMTP server in production anymore? Really!?!?!

Anyway – Eniig suggested using https://smtp.dk/ and even provides a free (almost unlimited) access until end of May 2018, so although there is a lot of cheaper alternatives out there – why not?
For non-Danish speakers wanting to join, smtp.dk also runs an international version of their service on https://mysmtp.eu/.

Only problem is that it requires SMTP to the submit port (587) and authentication. And it is a requirement for me to continue to use my FreeBSD/Sendmail box, which is providing a lot of services – including some rarely used SMTP-services – for family and friends. This is actually a non-profit/free setup – so it is a pita that Eniig actually are putting extra costs into this, without reducing the cost for the Internet connection. Shame on them!!!

Actually, it was not that big of a hassle to configure Sendmail for this purpose – and I’m also doing SMTP authentication, SpamAssassin filtering, procmail  and a lot of other stuff in my Sendmail :-).

This is what I had to do:

1.
Create /etc/mail/authinfo with one line (terminate it with a line break):

AuthInfo:smtp.dk "U:root" "I:<smtp.dk login name>" "P:<smtp.dk password>"

…replacing values in < > with you accounts values from smtp.dk
I feel most secure by making this file rw for root only

2.
Run makemap of this file to create a authinfo.db-file

makemap hash authinfo < authinfo

3.
Correct your sendmail.mc-file (whatever it is called on your system). Add these lines:

define(`SMART_HOST',`[smtp.dk]')dnl
define(`RELAY_MAILER_ARGS', `TCP $h 587')dnl
FEATURE(`authinfo',`hash /etc/mail/authinfo')dnl

Note: You should change this for the sendmail queue runner process, not a SMTP submit service etc.

4.
Compile your sendmail.mc file into a sendmail.cf file. This is easily done on FreeBSD 🙂

make cf

5.
Restart sendmail. Again – this is easy on FreeBSD

make restart

Also: remember to correct your SPF and similar setups on your domains according to smtp.dk/mysmtp.eu.