Thursday, September 13, 2018

fricking file formats

Finishing up a stage of work on the library catalog at my job, I prepared a report file of problem records. No problem, I thought: I'd done this before when I created the entire shelf list for the inventory. I set up the parameters in the catalog, generated the file, and saved it to a thumb drive.

Only difference was, the shelf list I had taken to FedEx and printed out. This file was to be e-mailed to the library people who'd need it. So I wasn't worried that the file format was PRNX, which I'd never heard of: I figured my computer could deal with it.

It couldn't. No program I had or could find could read it, and while Googling for "convert .prnx to .pdf" produced a lot of results revealing that PRNX was some sort of proprietary print format, none of the results whose titles said they'd show you how to convert actually did. Not one. I know, you don't believe me. But here, for instance, is one whose Google results title was "PRNX File - How to open or convert PRNX files". Can you see from here how to open or convert them? I sure can't.

So, I thought, I know from previous experience that at least the FedEx printer can print them. I'll print it out and then use their scanner to scan it as a PDF. I've had to do weirder things than that.

But it couldn't. The FedEx printer didn't recognize the format.

Phone the catalog program vendor. Learn that instead of using the "Save As" command near the left of the tool bar I should have used the "Export" command near the right of the tool bar. That's the one that creates PDFs. Obviously I'd gotten it right when I made the shelf list, but had completely forgotten about it in the two months since then. Gently suggest to the vendor that this is not intuitive. This hadn't occurred to them. Sigh.


  1. I have noticed that what people find intuitive varies a lot. I have known people who find command lines easier to use than graphical interfaces and vice versa. I have used programs that use Export to generate a PDF, but I had to learn that.

    1. "but I had to learn that," a comment which virtually defines "non-intuitive." It's not countered by cases where people have different preferences, e.g. command lines vs. GUI, where the obvious answer is to provide both options. This is software; you can do that.