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USB Printing

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  • USB Printing


    I had a client purchase Alpha4v8 based on the claim that it will print to windows printers (among others).

    To my dismay, I have just found several messages here stating that there's one caveat: won't print to USB printers.

    The version of alpha4 installed in her system is probably the latest, as I downloaded from your web site a few days ago.

    I can't test things on her computer until Thursday, but I'd like to know in advance if the USB limitation with A4v8 has been addressed at all or whether it's still there, meaning that she has to get another printer even though she just purchased a brand-new HP Laserjet 1012.



  • #2
    RE: USB Printing

    Currently, you cannot print to an USB port. You might want to check with a local computer store to see whether or not they have an adapter to print to a parallel port.

    We are looking into the problem.



    • #3
      RE: USB Printing

      Hi Alex,

      We had a look at the USB printing issue, and found out that there is no problem with printing to the USB printer. We tested the configuration with network printing also. I have windows 2000 and installed hp deskjet 940c series printer on my machine. Started Alpha Four V8 and printed a report. Walla, it prints fine. Then, we shared the printer in our network and printed thorough some machines on the network using alpha four v8. Again, it printed fine. We tested with 1 windows 2000 machine and 1 windows XP professional machine.

      The only problem may be the administrator settings for the printer, if any. If you dont have the administrator previleage on the maachine then you wont be able to print to the printer.

      But as far as as I know, there should not be any problems printing with a USB printer, as it is just another type of windows printer. If it can print a plain word file using the USB printer then, the same printer can definitely print Alpha Four v8 reports also.



      • #4
        RE: USB Printing

        Hi Pawan,

        Thanks for looking further into it. I was ready to write my own version of WinAgent, as pretty much any windows app should be able to talk to any windows printer regardless of how it's connected to the PC.

        I was able to look at one of the output files in the spool directory before it was removed by winagent, and doesn't seem to be too complicated to write a quick app that will check for new files in this dir (I think there's a windows API function for this), parse them, and output them to any windows printer.

        I will check with my client today or tomorrow and report back here with the results.

        Thanks again!



        • #5
          RE: USB Printing


          If you can write something that will enable TYPESET printing to a windows printer from A4v8, using windows drivers, you're on to something. Many folks in the forum could use such a feature, but I guess Alpha aren't going to develop it (which I fully understand).

          I for one would buy it. Yes, buy!

          Is anyone else willing to pay for such a feature? It might encourage its development if the writer sees a small pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.



          • #6
            Hacking TypeSet mode

            Hi Paul,

            Alpha4 natively sends the output to a text file in a specific directory when printing to a printer handled by windows directly.

            I just checked, and you can't send the output to a file when choosing a DOS printer.

            If you could get A4 to send TypeSet output to a file instead of a port, you could set up your printer as a LaserJet, and it shouldn't be too complicated to parse the resulting file (which would be PCL code) and convert it fairly accurately to something another printer could interpret.

            If you could get the output as PostScript, I think that acrobat could pick it up as is (not 100% sure of this though).



            • #7
              RE: Hacking TypeSet mode

              I have spent many hours trying to achieve this.

              LeadTools have a PCL-to-TIFF converter, which I made some progress with, but it all got too complicated - the idea was to convert the PCL output to a TIFF and then print the TIFF, but the conversion wasn't quite right and their program too unwieldy for me (font problems were difficult to resolve). (Having downloaded the trial version I received e-mails from their tech support people offering unlimited free assistance during the evaluation period, but the assistance didn't materialise...

              Of course there are DOS utilities which scan a directory for files and when one appears it is printed, but I couldn't get any of them to use a Windows driver.

              Another problem was the fact that the Windows default printer kept changing - I got round that by using a slightly modified version of some old-ish freeware called SDP which can be called by an A4 script and which resets the default printer to whatever you specify (source code is provided with that program).

              One of our unusual requirements is to print a particular "report" 50 times to an inkjet printer in typeset mode (don't ask why, we just do :) ). Whilst I have been able to make it work using smoke and mirrors, it all goes wrong when the inkjet decides to do a head clean part way through. That completely throws the printer and results in subsequent garbage being printed. I then tried a laser printer instead of the inkjet but since the output is on thick card, fusing the toner was a problem, and the sheets were too curled due to the heat. So now we output one paper copy to the laser, scan it, save as TIFF and print the TIFF to the inkjet using a graphics package.
              (My head hurts - pass me my pills, please)



              • #8
                RE: Hacking TypeSet mode

                I have been testing a product (PC Tools) which sounds very similar to the products you have tried ( My 30 days are up, and I have been too busy to work with it during the past 10 days or so, but I was able to get it to work fairly effectively on my laptop ... less so on my desktop.

                Like the product you tested PCLTools also coverts pcl output (including typeset!) to TIFF (and GIF I believe) and will convert to PDF ... however, I couldn't get it to convert the file to PDF too well, but I have "Fine Print PDF" which converted it well ... most of the time.

                You should test it out and see if it will work for you.

                Good luck,


                • #9
                  RE: Hacking TypeSet mode

                  Hi Duncan

                  I tried that utility a few weeks ago, and had little success with it. I suspect a few config settings were all I needed to get right, but frankly I lost interest after a while. I guess I was looking for a utility that worked straight out of the box.

                  I further guess I won't find one!



                  • #10
                    RE: Hacking TypeSet mode


                    At WWW.DOSPRN.COM you will find a great little program that will take any output directed to lpt1:, lpt2, or PRN, and send it to the default Windows printer, even if it is connected to a USB port. This is for Win98. If you are running 2000 or XP, there is an additional conversion utility that has to run, but is included in the download.

                    Winprint, unfortunately, decrements all file names in the spool directory dynamically, and deletes them as printed. Each page of a report is sent as a different file. Page 5 may start out as a4_5, but is decremented to a4_4 as soon as a4_1 is printed and deleted. This makes it nearly impossible for my application which uses compiled basic code to generate reports not possible in A4, to break into this que, and thus send DOS reports to the USB printer.

                    DOSPRN can replace Winprint, and allow you to send DOS printer output to a USB Printer as well. Don't run them together though (Dosprn and Winprint).

                    For DOSPRN to work properly, your defined printer driver in Alpha4, Windows or DOS, should print to a lpt: port NOT connected to a physical printer, and should use pagebreaks to paginate. Font information, margins etc. are set by the user in DOSPRN.

                    Hope this is useful to you.


                    • #11
                      RE: Hacking TypeSet mode

                      Thanks, John, I have downloaded a copy for evaluation.
                      Will let you all know what happens.