In my penultimate year at the University of Tennessee, I took a design course. It was awesome, and I learned so much. Hardly any of it would be the sort of stuff that you normally think about as design. I didn’t learn anything about structuring a page as a grid or about how to pick colors or when to use what typeface or any of that.

How many designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Does it have to be a lightbulb?

And this leads me to the problem that I am working on today at work. (Sorry, work.)

I was given the following task (lightly edited):

Generate PDF version of [the stuff on the page]
Staff regularly print out the [the stuff on the page]. This task helps them generate the document by one click instead of going through multiple copy-and-paste steps.

So there is supposed to be a page with stuff on it, and then there is also supposed to be a PDF button that will take the stuff on the page and turn it into a PDF, suitable for printing. I think that the idea is to use some sort of nightmare tangle of PHP to take the information that would go on the page and also generate a PDF of it.

You know what else can take the information on a page and prepare it for printing? The “print” option in the browser. We live in a world where we can use CSS to determine how things will appear on a screen and how they will appear when printed.

I’m wondering if there is a good reason that this needs to be a PDF or if the staff could just print the information by… printing.

Technical note: We shall see if this entry posts correctly and everything looks right. Previously I could only write and publish blog posts from my little laptop, but several days ago I put all the files that make the blog In The Cloud, and I installed the software the compiles them into HTML pages on most of my other computers.