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Replacing Multi-Part Forms with Print Wizard


This white paper is a very brief discussion of the various methods and considerations when replacing multi-part forms with a Print Wizard option.

For many years now, impact printers have been kept around at organizations just to print multiple page, preprinted forms. The problem is that today, impact printers are harder to find and much less affordable than inexpensive laser printers and desktop printers. Yet the preprinted, multi-part form still must be used.

So, with out extensive reprogramming of applications and personnel, how can you replace those printers with more affordable and modern printers. The answer is more complicated than you think, but Print Wizard can help.

Why is it complicated?

The reason for multiple page forms is to provide duplicate, carbonless in today's market, printouts of the data your organization needs. This may be federal or state forms, or customer receipt or packing slip, or it may be some in-house form that needs to be in duplicate or triplicate. And most likely your current application is geared to print just the data and print a specific print job just once. Hence the need for the preprinted and multiple pages.

So what are the main issues?

First, when your old dot matrix, impact printer dies, you now have to find an identical printer to replace it. In today's market, impact printers are much more expensive than their desktop counterparts or even in some cases, than their workgroup larger laser printers.

Second, the cost of preprinted forms is a budget item that many would like to reduce.

Third, most applications are designed to print only form data and to print a print job once. Extensive programming would be needed

This is where Print Wizard can help. Print Wizard can print your data multiple times, to different bins or trays, print with a single or multiple overlays and even handle your printers stapling and collating if available.

But there are other issues that must be addressed.

Each page needs to be a different color

Each page has a slightly different page layout (i.e. first copy for customer, second for vendor, etc.)

Each page may have a blank back or a preprinted disclaimer, but no data.

Each page may need to be separated to go to a different departments or users.

Print Wizard can help with all these as well. We can print multiple copies to different bins, with different colored paper. We can reference different overlay files for each page, or reference a multiple page image file as an overlay. We can print a blank back page or print a blank back page with just an overlay, no data. We can even separate the multiple prints to different output bins. All done from Print Wizard.

How do I get the print job to Print Wizard?

Print Wizard can be set up a number of different ways to receive print jobs.

Print Wizard Personal Edition

Most typically, the Print Wizard Personal Edition is used to print jobs that are saved as a file on disk, print jobs that already exist. The Print Wizard engine can be ran manually from your own script with a series of switches instructing it as to what to do.

Additionally, the Print Wizard Personal Edition includes a DLL that can be called directly from your application to build and manipulate print jobs.

Print Wizard Server Edition

The Server Edition of Print Wizard includes a number of services, both user services (stand-alone Print Wizard services) or Windows Services (installed for all users) that can take a print job from a number of sources. Print Wizard's services can be set up as follows:

Receive a print job over the "listen" protocol, similar to the JetDirect® protocol which listens for incoming jobs on a network port (usually port 9100). This is also used for localhost printer driver installation of Print Wizard.

Receive a print job by despooling from a local or network directory.

Receive a print job via the LPD protocol (common with many Linux and Unix systems).

Receive a print job by retrieving it from a remote host directory via FTP.

Print Wizard and Forms Overlay

Print Wizard supports many types of overlays. The referenced overlay file for a print job can be a single GIF or JPEG file or it can be a multiple page TIF, SPL (multiple EMF pages) file or printable PCL file. The overlay can be referenced as a single file or you can reference a series of image or print files to use as overlays, You can even reference a sequence of how the pages should print, a repeatable print pattern.

So how do I create overlay files?

Typically an overlay file is created in advance as an image file or a PCL file. Image files are easily generated by scanning the form and cleaning it up. However this may not be the sharpest of forms.

If you do not have access to a particular form in digital format, there are other applications available that can take a scanned image of a form and clean it up for you.

Printing a digital form to a file as an EMF or PCL file requires simply a "print to file" from within a printer driver. If you have designed the form yourself, or have a digital representation of the form, try printing to a PCL 5 printer driver, such as "HP Laserjet 5". This makes a nice form and Print wizard can handle the PCL 5directly.

Search the Internet. If the form is typical or common with many companies, most likely someone has already created a digital representation of the form that you can use.

Likewise, we also have a suite of tools at our disposal to do this. For a small fee (usually about $100 per form), we can create overlay files for you.

So how do you reference overlays for a print file?

Print Wizard can accept print jobs from a number of different sources. Likewise, Print Wizard can be set up with a number of different print options to use different overlays.

Listen Protocol
Set up a different port for each overlay. When someone prints to that port or printer, the job is received and a form overlay applied, with multiple copies and trays and bins and other print options already preset.

LPD Protocol
Preset a print queue that the host sends to through the LPD protocol. This port can specify a printer and form to apply, along with the other essentials.

Despool or FTP Despool
These two services can watch different directories to despool reports from, matching a directory with a form overlay and other print options.

In the print job
With our PWML (Print Wizard markup language) and our BANG commands (embedded subjob separators), your print data can actually specify a specific form to use as well as set other pre-print options.

Init (initialization) file
WIth any of the approaches above, you can also specify a printer initialization file for Print Wizard. This file can also specify many startup options including an overlay file to use.

Additional Information

A demonstration version of all our software is available for download from our web site. This 60-day demo will allow you to test Print Wizard, and with our free technical support, within reason, we can help get you started. Just give us a call.

Also refer to our web site support pages, white papers and knowledgebase material for additional information. Likewise there is an extensive Print Wizard PDF Manual available that covers the setup of Print Wizard.

We can provide consulting time and design or convert all your forms for very competitive prices.

The Future

We are working hard to make this easier and more intuitive and still keep it flexible. We welcome any comments and welcome your input as to what your specific needs are.

We also provide custom solutions to meet your needs. We can customize a solution for you that can replace your impact printer and multi-part forms with little cost on your part, saving you money in the cost of preprinted forms.

Ask us how we can help.

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