Universal Printer Driver
Print-IT (formerly, EOL Universal Printer) was first released in February 2001. Though not the first of its kind, it was the very first universal print driver product to leverage the virtual channel specification and to support both the ICA and RDP protocols. Print-IT was also the first PDF-based universal print driver to forego the dependency on the Adobe Acrobat Reader on the client and to introduce performance and bandwidth efficiency features such as page-level streaming and intelligent/partial font embedding.
Print-IT is a universal print driver solution designed for Windows 2000/2003 Terminal Server and all versions of Citrix MetaFrame and Presentation Server. Print-IT's long list of features and benefits include:
- Support for EMF and PDF modes of printing
- Does not require the Adobe Acrobat Reader on the client
- Does not require any server-side fonts to be pre-installed on the client
- Size-optimized print streams
- Adaptive compression technology (multiple compression algorithms for color and black-and-white images)
- Bandwidth usage control (i.e., bandwidth throttling)
- Intelligent font embedding (only fonts that do not exist on the client are embedded inside the print stream)
- Partial font embedding (only the used portions of fonts are embedded inside the print stream)
- Excellent print quality
- Incredible print performance and reliability compared to other third-party universal print driver solutions
- Page-level streaming for instant printing of large-size documents over low-speed connections
- Support for native printer features (i.e., bins, paper sizes, margins, print quality, and much more)
- Support for private printer features (i.e., manufacturer-specific features such as stapling, watermarks, etc)
- Support for the RAW data type (i.e., accommodates many legacy applications that perform their own rendering)
- Multiple printer naming options
- Synchronous/asynchronous printer auto-creation (ensures the auto-creation of at least one printer before the server-side application is started)
- Clientless support for LAN-connected print servers (transforms Windows print servers into universal print servers)
- Clientless support for remote sites and distributed environments (i.e., branch offices, business partners, ASP customers)
- Support for virtually any printer make and model
- Stress-tested using QualityLogic tools
How it works
Using a single auto-configurable print driver, Print-IT supports both the EMF and PDF modes of printing. When operating in PDF mode, Print-IT supports partial font embedding and does not require the Adobe Acrobat Reader on the client PC.
Previous versions of Print-IT relied solely on PDF as a means to deliver driver-independent printing capability. This decision was primarily influenced by EMF's lack of support for font embedding (i.e., ThinPrint) and other technical challenges. In its current version, Print-IT supports SmartEMF, Provision's own custom-enhanced EMF that extends the capabilities of standard EMF to deliver the perfect print job every time.
Please note that in many cases, EMF delivers better performance and print integrity than PDF, especially with graphic-intensive applications and documents incorporating transparent bitmaps and complex images. On the other hand, there are many situations in which PDF may outperform EMF, and thus we encourage our customers to try both options. Our goal is to offer our customers the best of both worlds.
Print-IT supports three operational modes: client printer auto-creation, network printer auto-creation, and remote site relay.
CLIENT PRINTER AUTO-CREATION
In this mode, client-side printers are auto-created for each user session on the server during logon. For each client printer, Print-IT auto-creates and configures a server-side printer using the Print-IT driver and having the same device capabilities (aka. printer features) as the client printer (figure 1). Device capabilities include, to name a few, the supported bins, paper sizes, margins, print quality, color, duplex, fonts, max copies, and much more).
Print-IT enables the administrator to specify what types of client printers to auto-create. The client's local printers, the network printer connections, only the default printer, or all the printers and printer connections may be auto-created. If so desired, the user may be allowed to choose which printers and printer connections to be auto-created (figure 2).
The administrator may also configure several preferences and performance parameters including the printer naming convention, print bandwidth upper limit, compression options, and more.
Client printer auto-creation relies on a custom virtual channel driver to transfer the print job from the server to the client. This mode of operation requires that the Print-IT client software be installed on the client computers. Currently, only Windows clients (i.e., 9x/Me, NT/W2K/XP) are supported, but support for MAC, Linux, and Java will soon become available as well.
Figure 1 illustrates a scenario in which client-side printing is enabled using Print-IT. The ICA or RDP client software is installed on the client PC alongside the Print-IT client software. During logon, the client printers and their associated capabilities are enumerated and sent to the server. The server then auto-creates the Print-IT client printers and configures each one to mimic the capabilities of the manufacturer-specific driver.
Figure 1 – Print-IT auto-creates a distinct server-side printer for each client-side printer.
|Figure 2 – The administrator may specify what types of printers to auto-create or allow the user to make this decision.
NETWORK PRINTER AUTO-CREATION
In this mode, print server-based network printers are auto-created on the same print server or dedicated Print-IT print server. For each network printer, Print-IT auto-creates and shares a printer using the Print-IT driver and having the same device capabilities (aka. printer features) as the original network printer. Device capabilities include, to name a few, the supported bins, paper sizes, margins, print quality, color, duplex, fonts, max copies, and much more).
The advantage of this mode lies in the fact that all network printers are auto-created using the Print-IT print driver. Using the Provision Management Console (PMC), the Citrix Management Console (CMC), or scripted logic, the shared Print-IT printers may be assigned to the appropriate clients. Printer connections will be established successfully during logon because the same Print-IT driver is also installed on the Terminal Servers or Citrix Presentation Servers. Because the printer connections are to the Print-IT printers and not the original printers, the manufacturer-specific print drivers need not be present on the Terminal Servers or Citrix Presentation Servers; these can be remain completely driver-free!
Figure 3 depicts a scenario in which the Print-IT server software has been installed on a print server. The three printers, HP Color LaserJet 8550 PCL , Xerox DocuTech 120 C/P PS , and HP DeskJet 990C , were created and configured to use the model-specific print drivers. Using the Provision Management Console (PMC), three Print-IT printers are created and shared, one for each of the aforementioned printers (figure 4). Thus, the Print-IT network printers are: HP Color LaserJet 8550 PCL (U) , Xerox DocuTech 120 C/P PS (U) , and HP DeskJet 990C (U) . Please note that the suffix “(U)” trailing the printer names is used to denote a Print-IT “universal” printer.
Once the Print-IT printers have been created and shared, they can then be assigned to the appropriate clients using the Provision Management Console (PMC), the Citrix Management Console (CMC), or scripted logic (figure 5).
The network printer auto-creation mode is a clientless mode; it does NOT require the Print-IT client software on the client. Therefore, client devices of all makes and models are supported.
Figure 3 – Print-IT supports print server-based printing by creating and sharing a distinct Print-IT printer on the same print server or a dedicated Print-IT print server.
Figure 4 – Using the Provision Management Console (PMC), Print-IT printers are created and shared on the same print server or a dedicated Print-IT print server. Additional properties may also be configured, including the Print-IT printer name and various compression and optimization settings.
Figure 5 – Using the Provision Management Console (PMC), Print-IT network printers can be assigned to the appropriate clients.
REMOTE SITE RELAY
Distributed printing is a WAN-optimized adaptation of the network printer auto-creation mode (see previous section); it has been specifically designed for organizations with multiple remote/satellite offices interconnected using limited-bandwidth WAN links. An organization with multiple geographically dispersed branch offices, each with one or more local print servers, may employ this mode to allow their branch office users to print from server-based applications hosted at a central location (i.e., Headquarters). Likewise, Application Service Providers (ASP) may employ this same mode to deliver bandwidth-efficient printing capabilities to their customers over private links, the Internet, and VPN connections.
The Remote Site Relay (RSR) extends the capabilities of the network printer auto-creation mode (see previous section) to remote offices, partners, and ASP customers. The advantages of using the RSR include:
- Clientless printing: no Print-IT client software is required on the remote clients. Only the RSR service is required on the remote print servers.
- Bandwidth management: Print-IT print jobs are “throttled” down the WAN link at a pre-set rate (specified in Kbps) to prevent them from consuming all the available bandwidth.
- Size optimization: using techniques such as intelligent/partial font embedding, duplicate image removal, and dynamic compression, Print-IT produces print streams as small as 10 percent the sizes of conventional PCL or Postscript print jobs.
The Remote Site Relay (RSR) mode of printing works as follows (figure 6): the RSR is installed on each remote print server. Using the RSR's Control Panel applet (figure 7), the remote office administrator specifies the printers that must be made available to the local users when they connect to the centrally hosted applications. Back at the central office, the remote site printers and associated information are imported using the Provision Management Console (PMC) by contacting the RSR at the remote site (figures 8). For each imported printer, a Print-IT printer is then created and shared on a Print-IT print server nearby the Terminal Servers or Citrix Presentation Servers. Finally, the Print-IT printers are assigned to the appropriate clients using the Provision Management Console (PMC), the Citrix Management Console (CMC), or scripted logic (figures 9).
Referring back to figure 6, a scenario is depicted in which the RSR is installed on a branch office print server. At the central office, the Print-IT server software is installed on the Terminal Servers (or Citrix Presentation Servers) and on one or more designated Print-IT print servers. The three printers, HP Color LaserJet 8550 PCL , Xerox DocuTech 120 C/P PS , and HP DeskJet 990C , are imported by contacting the RSR using the PMC. For imported printer, a corresponding Print-IT printer is created on the Print-IT print server, namely, HP Color LaserJet 8550 PCL (NY) , Xerox DocuTech 120 C/P PS (NY) , and HP DeskJet 990C (NY) . Please note that the suffix “(NY)” trailing the printer names is arbitrary and is usually reserved to designate the location of the branch office from which the printers are imported.
Figure 6 – The Print-IT Remote Site Relay (RSR) delivers clientless, bandwidth-efficient printing to remote branch offices, partners, and ASP customers.
|Figure 7 – Using the RSR's Control Panel applet, the remote site administrator specifies the printers that must be made available to the local users when they connect to the centrally hosted applications.
Figure 8 – Remote-site printers are imported, and then auto-created and shared on a Print-IT print server nearby theTerminal Servers or Citrix Presentation Servers.
Figure 9 – Using the Provision Management Console (PMC), remote-site printers are assigned to the appropriate clients
- Standalone per-server license
- Per concurrent user - Part of the Provision Management Framework (Standard Edition)
- Per concurrent user - Part of the Provision Management Framework (Enterprise Edition)