Web browsers haven't focused much on printing. The web is so much nicer on the screen than on a flake of dead trees..
Hence, web browsers are not very good at printing. For example, they have the annoying habit of splattering URLs and dates across the footer of a page. (Some versions of Opera are known to be so insistent on including a URL that they grab a random URL from a recently seen page and add it to the footer even when you print an E-mail. There is not unlikely a story about somebody becoming really, really embarassed by that bug on some blog somewhere in the universe..)
So what do you do if you write an online word processor and want your users to be able to print beautifully? Here is what Google Docs does when you click their "Print" button:
- Saves your document to the server
- Converts it on the server – on the fly – from HTML to PDF
- Creates a hidden Adobe Acrobat plugin instance inside the editor tab
- Load the newly converted PDF into the plugin
- Triggers the Acrobat print dialog
Wow. An impressive hack.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice workarounds"..