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Level 3 laserenvy
Level 3
31 29 0 10
Message 11 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

First to fastdriver: I'm sorry, you are right, I spent a bit of space explaining all that has to be done to create a driver but gave no actual time that would be required to do all that. Giving that estimate is something I would hesitate to do anyway (especially when my boss asks!); each case is different because of what you are trying to translate, how much code you can re-use from other places and so on.

 

And I do understand what you are saying. I have been there.

 

I'll get to your other questions later; I want to take amcan12's first. It is a great question. So great I am going to repeat it for effect... Why ARE there so many PDLs? (Don't forget my glossary above, if I use any new terms I'll add them below).  Why don't printers use ONE language  so we can all use ONE driver and avoid the problems associated with them?

 

In the very early days of laser printers there was a company that developed a PDL specifically as a device independent language. And unlike any PDL before or since, it had all the features of a real programming language. I am sure you have heard of it. The company is Adobe, and the language is PostScript.

 

After 25 years PostScript has only a few technical issues, like the inability to deal with transparency. Many printer manufacturers, including HP, still offer PostScript printers. And as I said in my earlier post, PostScript printers have had the fewest problems in the Snow Leopard transition because the single unified driver for it is supplied by Apple. As a side note, most of the trouble with PostScript printers in the Snow Leopard transition has nothing to do with PostScript but rather has been due to Apple dropping support for the Appletalk network protocol. People with those printers just create a new queue with a different network protocol and everything works again.

 

So why didn't PostScript take over the printing world if it entered the scene so early? I would say the reasons are similar to the reasons Macintosh didn't take over the computing world even though it had the first widely available graphical UI. This was Adobe before all the other products you know them for. PostScript was their only product and they had to sell it to keep their business alive. So they licensed it to print vendors and because of that licensing PostScript printers always cost more than non-PostScript printers. Things equalized somewhat as PostScript clones became available, but even with the royalties removed a PostScript printer carries with it a higher cost for reasons similar to the reasons a Mac Pro costs more than a Mac mini.

 

To see this let's look at a couple of other PDLs.

 

PCL was created by HP concurrent with Adobe's development of PostScript, although PCL beat PostScript to market by a small margin. PCL is not what computer scientists would consider a real programming language like Postscript, but it can be used for similar purposes. There are many versions of PCL, with PCL3, PCL5 and PCL6 being the most common. PCL6 is the newest. But in each "version" of PCL there may be several minor sub-versions that deal with new features of specific models. I an not a PCL expert, but as it has been described to me a PCL job is created with knowledge of the device resolution and other device specific knowledge - it was never designed to be device independent like PostScript.

 

Finally I want to mention something that isn't so much a PDL as a class of printers. Host-based raster printers, or sometimes simply raster printers, depend on the driver to deliver print ready bits. A print job is a series of commands describing the marks to make on the page. With a PostScript or PCL printer a series of commands are sent to the printer which rasterizes them for printing. But on a host-based raster printer all the rasterization is done before the job is sent to the printer and the printer receives each pages as essentially an image that it can print with little or no additional processing.

 

There are other PDLs but these hit the major classes. If you think about what is required of the printer for each of the printer classes discussed you will see that PostScript requires a printer with a decent processor and adequate RAM to run the PostScript program. A PCL job still requires processing power and RAM, but is not as demanding as PostScript. Since all the processing is done on the user's computer for a host-based raster printer very little processing power is needed and only enough RAM to hold one page. This means PostScript printers are still more expensive because they require more processing power, followed by PCL class printers and host-based raster printers are cheapest.

 

That partially answers your question, some people want printers cheaper than a PostScript printer, and a PostScript is the only PDL designed to be device independent. When the goal becomes low cost rather than compatibility the consistency you are asking about suffers.

 

Printer specific features are another area that  brings about inconsistencies. Vendors try to differentiate their products with unique features and there is no device independent and consistent way these features are implemented (except for in PostScript). Don't get me wrong, there isn't an attempt to re-invent the software every time, but because the features change a little with each new device so does the software implementation.

 

Getting back to fastdriver; the feature race is also reason for the gaggle of products in the same category. you can get printer X with a built-in duplexer but it costs a bit more. yes, you can get it with a network port but it costs a bit more, this one has a higher rated PPM, etc. Usually going to a different PPM means going to a different print engine and hence different toner cartridges. 

 

Sometimes a vendor will agree to sell a product through a discounter like Costco or Walmart. When they do that they make small changes to both the device and the model number so direct pricing comparisons with products in the more traditional stores cannot be done. I have always found this practice to be a bit weird but you see it happen with all kinds of products so it must make sense to marketing folks. 

 

I have no specialized knowledge of ink or toner so what follows is strictly my opinion (and NOT HP's), but I can think of three possible reasons for the difference in ink and toner cartridges across generations of printers. One would be that the hardware designers do not feel compelled to be backward compatible when designing a new device because they have a new set of design specifications and like to be creative (for example, reducing the size of device is frequently desirable, but could result in less room or a different space available for supplies). Another would be that the newer products have new color formulations that the color profiles were tuned to work with (this would only apply to a color printer). The last would be that perhaps cartridges change to stay ahead of re-fillers and re-manufacturers who undercut the original manufacturer my eliminating the up-front engineering costs of the product and the science that comes out of that process (quality). With regard to the latter I think most people that use those know the quality isn't as good, but they also feel that for their purposes it is good enough.

 

I hope that helps. Thanks for great questions and thanks for reading.

 

 

More Glossary

 

Duplex

The printing industry term for printing on both sides of a sheet. 

 

PCL - Printer Command Language

A PDL created by HP. 

 

Pixel - short for Picture Element

One of the small dots that make up a digital picture. 

 

PPM - Pages Per Minute

This is a rating of how fast the printer's engine can pull pages through. With complex pages it may be faster than the printer can actually generate the marks that go on those pages.

 

Rasterize

The process of taking a series of drawing commands and turning then into rows and columns of pixels.

(Although I am an HP employee, I am speaking for myself and not for HP)
GREGGDARBY
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Message 12 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

This only works if you have a duplexer on your printer. Mine is HP 8550 A909n.
Make sure you download the new printer drivers from hp for Snow Leopard. They are a beautiful solution to function with this new concise OS.
Choose file.
Click print.
Enter # of copies.
Click drop down arrow @ copies & pages.
Click layout.
2 sided will indicate it is off.
Click drop down arrow@2 sided.
Choose long sided binding unless you plan to assemble document as a tablet similar to a legal pad.
Notice the hashed marks that appear on left.
Click print.

The next time you print you can just choose last used settings instead of repeating all of this.

 

 

I HAVE THIS WITH SCREEN SHOTS AS .doc .jpg .pdf

 

 

if you give ma an email address I'll send t to you so you can upload to 

support pages.

 

 

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nickeox
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Message 13 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

well i wansn't gonna post, but their already is a driver for 10.6 

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL907

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fastdriver
Level 2
29 26 0 4
Message 14 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

nickeox-

 

OLD news! 

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drm_trendvision
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Message 15 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

niceox

 

Thanx for the link!

 

dRm

________________

www.trendvision.hu

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Diedra
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Message 16 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

Good info, thanx; but I want to know how to work around the fact that my new iMac, OS X ver. 10.6.2 won't speak to my wonderful, not that old, HP Laserjet 1020.  There must be a way.  My question:

Will HP ever supply a new driver for that most excellent printer.

 I really hate creating more garbage in this world.  Regards,

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Level 3 laserenvy
Level 3
31 29 0 10
Message 17 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

Hi Diedra-

 

The LaserJet 1020 never had "official" support from HP under Mac OS. However, many users were able to successfully use the driver for the LaserJet 1022 with a LaserJet 1020 when running Leopard and earlier.

 

Given that the printer was not officially supported before I don't think you can expect that to change. However, it might be reasonable to try the new LaserJet 1022 driver and see if it works with your LaserJet 1020. Be sure you have the latest Snow Leopard drivers from HP (that you get through Apple's Software Update). I have tried both the early versions and and the current version. The early versions had some problems with a LaserJet 1020 most recent release seems to work reasonably well, even though it is still not officially supported.

 

I hope it works for you.

(Although I am an HP employee, I am speaking for myself and not for HP)
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LeeS
Level 1
9 6 0 2
Message 18 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

Laserenvy

It's great interviewing yourself and asking questions and giving answers that are meaningless to the many people out there that have the same question that I have, to wit: WHEN IS HP GOING TO DELIVER THE SCNNER DRIVERS THAT IT PROMISED OVER 4 MONTHS AGO?  Many, many people, me included, are so frustrated with HP that I would almost guarantee that HP is going to lose many good customers in the future when word gets out that the CEO doesn't give a **bleep**.  He will not even answer any emails, I know, because I have sent many emails to him and all I get is a canned reply that does not address the problem.  So, Laserenvy, answer my question if you can with the truth. 

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Level 3 laserenvy
Level 3
31 29 0 10
Message 19 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

You are right, I can't answer the question, and that is the truth.

 

First of all, I work on printing software. My visibility to the scanning solutions is limited.

 

Next, HP would not allow me to give a date, even if I knew one. This is largely because no matter how much science is behind it, predicting the future is not an accurate science. In the case of software development you never know if a serious problem will be found in the last stages of testing that requires a lot of additional coding and testing (time!) to fix. HP's experience is that NOT giving a date is better than giving a date and missing it. As you have observed, the most HP will say is whether it is being worked on or not. If you do see a release date predicted it is probably very close (within a month) and the date is posted because the software is finished and tested with the only remaining task being distribution. By "distribution" I mean put on the web, put on Apple's Software Update, etc. Yes, with processes companies put in place for that sort of thing it takes much more than a day.

 

I am sure that is not a very satisfactory answer. Sorry, it is the best I have.

 

But as you seek this information I have a couple of suggestions if you have not already tried them:

 

HP's CEO is a pretty bright guy but he knows business, not software development. He is less likely to know the answer to your question than I am. I suggest you go back to where ever you saw the post you mentioned and ask for an update.

 

I would also suggest you be specific about the model of scanner or MFP you own because blanket replies may not cover all products. You want a specific answer for your device and the only way to get that is to specify the device.

(Although I am an HP employee, I am speaking for myself and not for HP)
kat2010
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Message 20 of 25
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Ever wonder what a printer driver is?

I think what should be important to recognize is that frustration is building in all kinds of users of all ages.

Some of us are old enough to remember the beginnings of personal computing with the Mac Lisa, then Apple II, and the proliferation of the "clone wars".

Printers were expensive hardware, but ink ribbons were not.

Now we've seen a reversal which seems counterproductive.

The hulking big thing that does the work is the disposable piece?

What's honestly confusing is how we screwed up some very simple applications that were easy to execute and turned them into convoluted, explosion of choice which:

1. Doesn't get the job done efficiently, cheaply OR easily

2. Provides so much choice that you need a PhD to understand and troubleshoot.

3. Has so many steps that it wastes everyone's time.

 

If developers are looking for solutions, they might:

1. Market specific printers to be sold with specific systems whose learning curve shouldn't be longer than the device's  life span.*

2. Market specific printers for EASE OF USE  (newbie vs geek network) out of the box.

3.  Consider engineering ink refill fluids or large cartridges, so we aren't wasting time and energy filling this stuff up all the time*

4. Engineering things that last, need little maintenance and are relatively green will insure a happier customer base and business users coming back over and over again to the company that SOLVES their problems.

5. Quality DOES matter to most customers and businesses.

6. Too many choices undermines functionality and efficiency and costs us all time and money.

 

Ideas that are failing:

Engineering absurb packaging and electronic "chips" on each ink cartridge in ecologically damaging containers.

Needing technical expertise to print something or reproduce an image that can now be done faster and cheaper with pencil and paper or the photo kiosk.

 

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