Category Archives: Technology

Smart printer technology issues and data processing

Printing on legacy applications

Give a new dimension to legacy applications* with smart printers.

There is a countless number of PC applications nowadays. Just search in google the word software and results are millions. There are numerous applications on every PC, word processors, spreadsheets, e-mail readers, applications suitable for keeping your financial data, applications that generally serve our demands.

Many of them use the latest technology, and some others are rather old, sometimes so old that were created a long time ago before www or e-mails. These applications might be not very technologically advanced, however they can develop new potential, since they have one common point, one exit gate to another world!

This gate is simply the command “Print”

Up to nowadays, we use the command “Print” just to print -make an impression of- data on paper and we are still using it in that way. We will present you how a PC user can do much more with the same command and give a new dimension to legacy applications.

Let’s see an example:

A company that repairs electric devices has several technicians that visit daily customers. Each technician has a spare part data base on his laptop  that can use it to search spare part codes. After his visits and on-field malfunction diagnosis, he can go back to his office, make the required orders and inform the customer about the order status, and arrange a new appointment to solve the problem.

The application that is on his laptop allows the user just to search the required spare-parts, chose them, print them on paper, so that the codes can be sent by fax, or can be copied to an e-mail and sent to the relative department.

The above mentioned procedure demands many tasks to be completed by the user, and that multiplies the possibility of a human mistake. Moreover, of course all these typical, nonproductive, everyday tasks make the technician spend a lot of his valuable time.

  • How could we speed up all that procedure? 
  • Is there a technological way?
  • Can we upgrade the legacy application so that the work flow is easier and quicker?

All typical applications, such as the one we described, have a common practice to print the contents.We can give the user the potential to “print” by using a smart printer. By installing a smart printer we can solve the problem as follows:

  • The user does not change his habits and follows the same procedure to choose-and make the spare part order
  • He prints the order through the smart printer and the following tasks are magically performed.
  • The content of the order is received at the same moment by the warehouse and order department. 
  • Quantities and values are confirmed. 
  • The client receives an e-mail that informs him of the spare part delivery time, the required service time, cost and other relative information

Note that :

  • The user did not have to go back to his office and make the order.
  • He avoided any telephone or other type of contact with the department in charge.
  • He avoided wrong typing and/or fax sending.
  • The customer was immediately informed.
  • He renewed his service appointment at the spare part delivery time.

And all that without any upgrade or refactoring of the legacy application, just by installing a smart printer and let your legacy application print on demand.

 *Note: In information technology, legacy applications and data are those that have been inherited from languages, platforms, and techniques earlier than current technology. Most enterprises who use computers have legacy applications and databases that serve critical business needs. Typically, the challenge is to keep the legacy application running while converting it to newer, more efficient code that makes use of new technology and programmer skills. In the past, much programming has been written for specific manufacturers’ operating systems. Currently, many companies are migrating their legacy applications to new programming languages and operating systems that follow open or standard programming interfaces. Theoretically, this will make it easier in the future to update applications without having to rewrite them entirely and will allow a company to use its applications on any manufacturer’s operating system.
In addition to moving to new languages, enterprises are redistributing the locations of applications and data. In general, legacy applications have to continue to run on the platforms they were developed for. Typically, new development environments account for the need to continue to support legacy applications and data. With many new tools, legacy databases can be accessed by newer programs.

 

Printer as Middleware

What is Middleware?

According to Wikipedia:
“In its most general sense, middleware is computer software that provides services to software applications beyond those available from the operating system.
Middleware can be described as “software glue”. Thus middleware is not obviously part of an operating system, not a database management system, and neither is it part of one software application. Middleware makes it easier for software developers to perform communication and input/output, so they can focus on the specific purpose of their application”.

According to the above mentioned definition, middleware:
Offers to an application extra capabilities that the computer’s operating system or the application itself don’t have.These capabilities are beyond those available from the application per se or the operating system.

Since smart-printers technology, can be remotely used as web service, as a virtual part of a software application, -not existing into operating system or into a database- then, we can say, that smart printers technology matches the above mentioned definition, as far as that point is concerned.

However a printer doesn’t exist only for one application.
Usually all software applications that co-exists in a computer, have access to printing process.

The printing process, can function as a “glue” between different software applications.

A typical software application has built-in mechanisms,
so that all its parts communicate successfully with each other and function properly.
But, what happens when software applications are created by different vendors,
and these unification mechanisms don’t exist?

In such cases of heterogeneous software systems, that often coexist in a company’s information infrastructure, programmers and consultants invent various ways to make independent software applications communicate with each other.
Many middleware technologies, usually very complex, can perform that, however they require in-depth application modifications and sophisticated technical teams to support it.

Can all these procedures be simplified?

With smart printers, middleware operation can be seen from a different point of view.
Given the fact that a smart printer can perceive the source of data and the data per se,
it can function in the following simple and smart way.

The printing process of a software application extracts some data from the application. These data can be inserted as input data into another application.
And data insertion into that application can trigger another insertion into a third application, etc…

In our case, the common point is nothing else but the command “Print”, which sends the required data from one point to another.

Moreover a software programmer has the ability, through a sophisticated method,
to use a “silent” and repetitive printing process through the software application itself.

In addition, many printers can coexist in the same system and, depending on their configuration, they can be chosen in order to achieve the interactivity of two or more totally independent software applications.

The fact is that the printing process ability exists in almost all software applications available. Therefore, meaning “software glue”, can describe perfectly our technology that utilizes a simple intercommunication process. Just as simple as printing to a printer device.

So smart printers can be configured to act in a way that -according to middleware definition- makes it easier for software developers to perform communication and input/output, so they can focus on the specific purpose of their application.

 

Print as web service

As you might already know, there are many examples of printers that are not next to your computer, or they are not even in the same building, where you can send to print successfully, since the printer share recognized from your PC.

These are remote printers that communicate with your computer through a network such as LAN, WAN, etc.

Therefore, if you send to print to remote printers, there will be a print, regardless of whether you see or receive the final result.
The typical result of the above mentioned procedure is a piece of paper with a print on it.

Another situation is virtual printers.
Virtual printing is also applicable to special printers that, for example, convert Microsoft® Word documents to Adobe® PDF document format.

In our case, like virtual printers, you can configure a smart printer in such a way that the application manager can determine the result of the print.

It is a web service printer that you can control so that it formats the result of your prints.

A smart printer checks the content of a print and according to it, procedure steps, based on preset rules,are followed.

Here is an example