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General printing issues

Why is printing so hard?

Ed recently bought a mildly used laser printer and wanted to set it up on his home network.
In a better world, this would be a trivial exercise — just connect the printer to the network and let the computers discover it. As he said, in the actual world, it was a forty-five minute project that only a reasonably handy network jockey could have hoped to complete.

If you care about what exactly he had to do, see below.

John Hartman says, “Printing is the hardest problem in computer science.” It often seems that way. But why?

Plug-and-play printing seems pretty simple, compared to many of the things that computers do routinely without trouble. Granted, it’s not trivial to get the full variety of printers to work with the full variety of computers, but our collective failure to do so is — or should be — surprising.

There must be some lesson here about engineering, or human nature, or something. Lately I’ve gone around asking people why printing is so hard. I’ve gotten some interesting answers, but I don’t think I really understand the issue yet.

What do you think? Why is printing so hard?

For the record, here’s what he had to do to get his newly acquired printer working on his home network:
I plugged the printer in to our network, but the Windows PCs couldn’t auto-discover the printer. I Googled the printer’s user manual, which said the printer had a built-in webserver. But I didn’t know the printer’s IP address, so I had to log in to our router and look at its DHCP tables. Knowing the IP address, I could connect to the printer’s webserver, which had a page telling me what URL to use for IPP printing. (I had to know what IPP was.) After that, I assigned the printer a static IP address, so the IPP URL (containing an IP address) would keep working across reboots. Now that I had a stable IPP URL, I could set up the PCs for printing. Finally, I had to guess which of driver to use on Windows — two drivers were offered, with no advice about which one to use, but only one of the offered drivers supports duplex printing. Total elapsed time: about 45 minutes.

*the above printer fairy-tale was taken from here.
What do you think at all ?
Is the right season to tell printer to make a cup of instant coffee?

About documents

Whatever is printed from computer to any kind of printer, it usually exists as a digital file stored on computer.

The term “document” is general . Usually in the past, it referred to symbols, images and words, which were on a piece of paper.

When it comes to “digital documents”, we can characterize them as “Files” and, more accurately, as  “Digital Files”.
Digital Files can be texts, sketches, photos, music, movies, etc.
Many of them can be printed, usually on paper.

However, not all kinds of digital files are printable.
For example, a digital file that contains sounds of a pop song or the sounds of an opera, can’t be printed.

So, some digital files can be printed and some can’t.
And even if we tried to print on paper the non-printable files, the result would not make sense.

In our technology all files are potentially printable.

And that is possible, because all information that files contain, is not sent to printer to print them on paper, but to edit and to convert it through the printing process.

So , information that  files contain becomes important for its process.
Every document print is a transformation.

A typical example of such a digital print, that is already widely used, is the conversion of a Microsoft® Word document to another type of document, Adobe® PDF.
Since digital documents are commonly sent in PDF type, this process is often.

The above mentioned process is a transformation, however the content itself doesn’t affect this transformation.
Contents remain the same, the computer program that is responsible to show us the contents, changes.

In our technology the content of a document can determine its transformation.
For example and theoretically, a “smart” printer could, if given the order by the user, print an audio file, in the form of sheet music.

To a smart printer, content gives meaning to a document.
So, content , based on rules that we have set, determines its behavior and its course.

A smart printer can be configured to do it.

Let’s imagine, when I send documents for printing, I want the following to happen…

  •  If I have an image file, it should be stored on my computer,  it should be e-mailed to John and simultaneously be stored as backup file to a second folder.
  •  If I have a text file that contains word “colleagues”,   it should be simultaneously be stored on all colleague’s computers.
  • If a file contains a mathematic formula,  it should be calculated and the result should be sent to all my colleagues.

There are so many examples and applications that smart print technology can handle.
Using smart printers, your digital documents, are alive.

Intoduction (Think before you print)

The history of computing is interwoven with the command ‘Print’.
Since the very beginning of digital computing, one of the basic needs is to create, edit and print documents.

During the evolution of traditional printing technology to the new digital era, the result of printing process didn’t evolve.The result is usually the presentation of documents on  paper.
This process survives until today and it is known as “Print”. However printing digital documents  on paper costs.It costs more than its digital storage and digital screen’s view.
It doesn’t produce profit, since its use is limited to traditional archiving and causes decrease in natural resources.

There is no reason to archive papers anymore. Information can remain in its digital form.
What we need is a new way of “printing”.

What should happen in order to achieve such a transition?
The application of a new “printing” method should be able to produce more results.
And that can happen, without necessarily having to change our habit to print as we do nowadays.

Our technology allows us to print in the same way as we are used to.
Additionally, many more tasks can be performed faster and easier.
Since we can determine the behavior of our printer, our printer will be able to process our print in an easier and more profitable way.

The known phrase “Think before you print” which, of course, is referred to the user, could be transferred to our printer, so that the printer itself , as a smart device, should think what it should do when it is given the order “Print”.