We have a pain point at the moment - we are trying to implement 1 print stylesheet across many different templates/styles of websites.

The problem is that they seem to be like a waterbed - you push down in one place, another area bulges.

We cant seem to get any consistency.

This is magnified by the fact we are testing across multiple browser/OS combinations. Also, print preview doesn't always reflect what the printout will look like!

We're using PDF Creator to save on paper, other than that its a real manual, laborious process.

Anybody got any tips tools they've used or could recommend please?



1 Answer 1


Unfortunately this is a known area of testing pain.

At some line you need to "draw the line in the sand" to decide how far you will test. You have to decide if you are going to stop at the browser / operating system or printer (as there will be variation printer to printer).

Ultimately it depends on how close your print outputs need to be. On one project that I worked on the reports were legal documents, and if the font was 10 point Arial instead of 12 point veranda then potentially the document would not be submitable as evidence.

I think that there are a number of techniques you could potentially try ...

  1. Print them all and look at the printouts on a single printer ... this is what I have done in the past, but it is not particularly environmentally friendly.

  2. Print them all to a single, "virtual printer" and then do image comparison on the resultant PDF. (which you are currently doing.)

  3. Print them all to a single, "virtual printer" and then do image comparison on the resultant PDF. You could use some of the image verification code in testapi to do this for you automatically.

  4. You can use a combinatorial technique like all-pairs to reduce the number of combinations that you are trying. you can use James Bach's all-pairs, testapi or hexawise for this.

  • Thanks for this Bruce, greatly appreciated. We try and use PDF Creator to be a bit more environmentally friendly, but like print preview its not perfect. Thanks for the links - going to try that testapi. Fortunately our printouts dont need to be that accurate, so we dont need to cover printer settings as well as OS & browser settings
    – DuncN
    Aug 1, 2011 at 19:38
  • @DucN Why not mark the answer as right? Apr 19, 2013 at 22:38

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