APIs for interfacing with the 1980s
Have you ever been surprised? I have. Most recently, by the number of advertising clients of the village magazine saying things like “I’d prefer a paper invoice”.
Given that many of these clients are tradespeople and older than me, I suppose it’s partly a generational thing: if you started out self-employed in the 1980s, you almost certainly didn’t use a computer, and you’ve probably added the minimum since (i.e. a bit of e-mail at a push). And hey, if it makes you a living, who am I to judge?
Well, I’m the guy who has to print the invoices, fold them up, stuff them in the envelopes, stick a stamp to each one, hand write the address or faff with feeding envelopes through the printer and aaaargh.
Fortunately, though, there is a solution to hand. It’s called PC2Paper.
No doubt other such services exist, but having found one that works, and at a price I’d struggle to match doing it all myself, what’s not to like?
The idea is simple: upload a PDF, specify where to send it, pick a few options (colour? black and white? what size envelope? first or second class?) and off it goes. You can do it by hand via the website, but there’s also an API. If you want me to tidy up my Python code for that and pop it on github, please ask.
I ran a test to confirm and it all seems to work flawlessly (despite the strikes, my test 1st class letter was only a day late). So this is a really nice option if you want paper mail but generated in a fully hands-off manner.
Incidentally, shout out to the person whose job it is to spend all day scooping output off the printer and stuffing it into envelopes!
Merry Christmas to all 3.5 of my readers, and I’ll be back with more in ‘23.