Legacy Pick to PDF Windows Service


The customer runs a circa 1980's Business Basic Pick system to mangage their parts distribution business. This system continues to be maintained and enahanced but given the technology some desired pieces are difficult or imposible to implement directly. The system is excellent at producing text documents but cannot handle more modern document types like PDF and it is awkward to handle large batches of email, fax and printing.

The new system consists of a few new components:

  • Windows Service to convert and transmit text to email, fax or print
  • SQL Server data base that contains configuration, logging and transactions
  • An internal web based system to monitor the system and maintain the configurations
  • A SQL Reporting Server to help generate the doucments
  • A purge function that keeps the sql files trimmed to a specified number of months.

Technologies used

  • Visual Studio 2012 / C#
  • SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Entity Framework 4.5
  • ASP Net MVC 4
  • Efax.com account


What the windows service does is monitor a number of folders for text files created by the Pick system. Folders get various business documents including invoices, PO's, statments and quotes. Besides the document information, the text files also include delivery information, printer name, email recipients or fax number. The windows service will pick up the flat file text documents (each line has a different format and information) and format them into a pdf for email or fax and into an image for printing.

I believe this was the third try to get software developed to perform this function. The previous try by another developement company provided a solution that was very fragile and require attention, restart and sorting out of errors every day.

We also took over a signature capture system placed at branch location point of sale systems that gets a signature at point of sale and passes it to the pick to pdf service.

This system has been running since 2012. The rare errors are normally due to a change in the pick system or hardware/network changes.


The system continues to be enhanced and changed to add more document types and change document formats and content for changing business requirements.