AGILE Print Manager
The AGILE Print Manager (APM) is a software product for use on LAN systems. APM converts printer data streams to match target printer requirements. This is particularly useful in enabling newer non-compatible printers to print legacy data.
APM is installed and executed on a single dedicated PC running under any of the Microsoft Windows 95/98/2000/NT operating systems.
APM PC hardware consists of a PC tower with hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy, and a network interface card appropriate to the LAN to which it is connected at minimum. No keyboard or display is required for normal use, but may be used for configuration and monitoring functions. An uninterruptable power supply is recommended.
APM appears to be one or more virtual, or "logical", printers or LAN print queues to other elements of the LAN. Each virtual printer accept data as if it were an actual printer. APM utilizes selected filter programs to process each data stream, and then sends the translated data to the specified physical printer or print queue on the network. APM makes the printing of data streams intended for otherwise incompatible printers possible, and does this without requiring user intervention or rewriting of legacy code.
Each APM virtual printer is individually defined to other elements of the LAN (whether client, other print server, gateway, or LAN print queue) as if they were actual printers and is a complete software emulation of that printer in order to satisfy print job handling protocols for the data sent to APM. This allows normal LAN protocol processing, appropriate error handling, and user notification for stalled and abended jobs at the actual target printer.
Data sent to a selected APM virtual printer may contain data and commands intended for a printer type with a feature set that is not compatible with the actual physical printer. APM selectively converts the data to be compatible with the target printer.
Data and command filters may be specified for each virtual printer to correspond with the actual physical printer that the translated data is sent to. These filter and target printer assignments are made during configuration.
The actual target, or physical, printers are printers, print servers, or LAN print queues that are physically attached to and defined on the LAN. These are the printers that will actually print the data processed by APM. Any printers attached directly to the PC on which APM is resident and running may be accessed in this manner also.
APM may be configured either by executing a local configuration program on the APM PC or from a remote manager program on another PC attached to the LAN. Both the local and remote manager functions will allow real time monitoring of APM functions and various diagnostics. The diagnostics have two levels: Administrative and User. Users may view and control their print jobs, while Administrators can configure the system.
Configurations can be saved to, and restored from, a floppy disk or other archival medium.
Filters are stand-alone utilities that run under the operating system of the dedicated APM PC. The selected filter is invoked by APM, the data is passed through it, and the resultant data stream is sent by APM to the appropriate physical LAN printer via the LAN printer queues.
XES/UDK to PCL translation is fully supported by APM and allows for legacy applications that output XES data streams for Xerox printers that are no longer available or supported to print on newer printers. APM allows these applications to be used without expensive or impossible changes being made to them.
All PCL5-capable printers including Xerox N40, N32, N24, and N17, HP 4000, 8000, and D640 Lexmark 1250, 1450, and 1650, Kyocera FS 3500A, and most other industry standard laser printers.
APM software may be installed and configured by the end user, or it may be installed and configured on a dedicated PC that is then shipped to the customer fo final installation. The final installation includes connecting the APM PC to the LAN, defining the APM virtual printers to other LAN elements, and configure the desktop PC's.
Configuration is simple and consists of: setting the APM PC IP address; definition of printer type for each virtual printer port; assignment of a filter to each virtual printer port; and selection of actual target printer queue on the LAN to which the data streams are directed after processing.
The APM network, drive, and web permissions can not be used as a portal into the LAN network.
All program functions are available after launch. All emulated virtual printers that have been selected and configured are active; monitor logs are maintained per the configuration and may be displayed using normal PC resources. The configuration, console, and debug modes may be activated.
APM may be configured before or after launch. The following functions can be defined and selected from menus: select active or inactive state of all emulated virtual printers; define all required LAN parameters for each virtual printer; select filter to be used for each virtual printer; select and define each actual target printer, as well as its proper system driver; select logging and diagnostic modes; set archive/restore configuration; command stop queues, flush queues, redirect queues, and delete print jobs; and manage disk drive (i.e. auto-delete files that have reached a certain age).
Note that while the data stream processing sequence requires that each virtual printer may have no more than one filter and only one target printer assigned to it, a target printer may have any quantity of virtual printers and filters assigned to it. Filters may be called as needed to process data: multiple copies of any filter may be simultaneously running.
All configuration changes take effect when selected or after end of job, as appropriate.
APM may be controlled either locally or from another PC on the LAN. Both methods present the same operator interface to the user, and both provide the same range of control over APM. This includes configuration changes for unattended operation as well as real time Console functions that allow an operator to monitor status of virtual and target printer ports, print job status, select job logging options, and to select debug functions. Both remote and local console operations also identify which print queues are available and which queues can be targeted. Other features include the ability to redirect or clear a queue. The manager and user interface is password protected.
All debug functions are invoked from the LRMC (Local/Remote Manager Console). The LMRC allows several methods of analyses and information gathering, to include the ability to create files of print data streams as the data is processed by APM, i.e., a job could be captured at any or all of these selected points: as received from the LAN; before processing by the filter; after being processed through the filter; and after being processed by the system OS printer driver. Information may then be sent to AGILE for diagnostic purposes by methods that will not inconvenience the user. These methods include utilizing LAN resources (modems, gateways, etc.) to directly send captured files, as well as utilities to compress and write data to the disk drives of the APM PC.