Creating a printer friendly version of your MCMS postings


At some point, your site visitors are going to want to print a copy of the MCMS 2002 posting (page) that they are viewing. They often demand that the information be presented in a readable format without the navigation controls, graphics and banner ads. How do you do this?

One way to achieve this is to use a print stylesheet as suggested in this MCMS 2002 Newsgroup thread. For more information on this type of implementation, check out this article from css-discuss Wiki. Also make sure to see the CSS2 specification for Paged Media.

Another way to accomplish this would be to use connected templates and postings. Connected templates are template objects that share placeholder definitions, but which may refer to different template files, and have different layouts and placeholder controls. Connected postings are pages that use connected templates and reference the same content source. Connected pages can be used to display a page on a multilingual site, to display the same information in more than one area of your site, or even to create a printer friendly version of your content.

For more information on connected templates and connected postings, see "Page Processing with Connected Templates" in the MCMS 2002 Help File.

The approach I am going to take will be a file based ASP.NET Web Form used in conjunction with an ASP.NET User Control. The User Control will consist of a Hyperlink that passes the current postings Guid to the web form. The web form will then loop through the placeholder collection, gather the content, and render it in a printer friendly version without the navigation controls.

Let’s get started!

Creating the User Control

In this section, we will create the user control that renders the hyperlink for the Print Friendly page.

  1. In Visual Studio.NET, open your MCMS application.

  2. Create a new User control and name it PrintFriendly.ascx.

  3. Drag a HyperLink control from the Web Forms toolbox.

  4. Set the Text property of the HyperLink control to "Print Friendly Version".

  5. Set the ID property of the HyperLink Control to "lnkPrintFriendly".

  6. Switch to your code view and add the following using directives

    using Microsoft.ContentManagement.Publishing;
    using Microsoft.ContentManagement.Common;

  7. In the Page_Load Event, add the following code:

    Posting curPosting = CmsHttpContext.Current.Posting;

    if(CmsHttpContext.Current.Mode == PublishingMode.Published)
    lnkPrintFriendly.Visible = true;
    lnkPrintFriendly.NavigateUrl = "PrintFriendly.aspx?" + curPosting.Guid;
    lnkPrintFriendly.Target = "_Blank";
    lnkPrintFriendly.Visible = false;

  8. Click Save.

The code above grabs the Guid of the current posting and generates a link to the Print Friendly page (which we create in the next section). This link opens a new browser window and will only be visible if we are in published mode.

Creating the Web Form

In this section, we will create the ASP.NET web form that renders only the content for that posting and breaks out of your site's navigation structure and the look and feel. This page will be very generic with just a table that shows the posting's display name and the content. It will be up to you to design the print page to suit your needs.

  1. In Visual Studio.NET, open your MCMS application.

  2. Create a new web form and name it PrintFriendly.aspx.

  3. Create a table that is 650 pixels wide and centered on the page.

  4. Drag a Label Control inside the table and name it "lblPostingDisplayName". This control will render the posting's Display Name property.

  5. Drag a Literal Control inside the table and name it "litPostingContent". This control will render the content of the placeholders.

  6. Your HTML Code should look something like this:

    <%@ Page language="c#" Codebehind="PrintFriendly.aspx.cs" AutoEventWireup="false" Inherits="CMSPrintFriendly.PrintFriendly" %>
    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" >
    <meta name="GENERATOR" Content="Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 7.1">
    <meta name="CODE_LANGUAGE" Content="C#">
    <meta name="vs_defaultClientScript" content="JavaScript">
    <meta name="vs_targetSchema" content="">
    <form id="frmPrintFriendly" method="post" runat="server">
    <TABLE align="center" id="tblContent" cellSpacing="1" cellPadding="1" width="650" border="0">
    <asp:Label id="lblPostingDisplayName" runat="server" Font-Names="Verdana" Font-Size="Small"
    <P><FONT face="Verdana" size="2">
    <asp:Literal id="litPostingContent" runat="server"></asp:Literal></FONT></P>

  7. Switch to your code view and add the following using directives:

    using Microsoft.ContentManagement.Publishing;
    using Microsoft.ContentManagement.Common;

  8. In the Page_Load Event, add the following code:

    // Retrieve the Posting Display Name
    string strGuid = Request.QueryString[0].ToString();
    Posting curPosting = (Posting)CmsHttpContext.Current.Searches.GetByGuid(strGuid);
    lblPostingDisplayName.Text = curPosting.DisplayName;

    // Retrieve placeholder data for every placeholder (seperated with HTML breaks).
       PlaceholderCollection colPlaceholders = curPosting.Placeholders;

    foreach(Placeholder pH in colPlaceholders)
    litPostingContent.Text = pH.Datasource.RawContent.ToString();
    litPostingContent.Text += "<br><br>";
    // Generate a generic error message if it fails
    litPostingContent.Text = "Error: There was a problem obtaining the content for this page.";

  9. Rebuild your solution.

Implementing the Control

The last thing to do will be to implement the control.

  1. Open an existing MCMS template for your MCMS application.
  2. Drag the PrintFriendly User Control on to your template file.
  3. Save this template.

At this point, you can now go view a posting (or create a new one) and click on the link which will generate a printer friendly version in a new browser window.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.