AFP Printing the Easy Way

AFP and ExcelliPrint

Brooks Internet Software provides a software IPDS printing solution, ExcelliPrint, that can take an IPDS data (AFP converted to IPDS by the PSF400) and save it as a PDF file; the PDF file is saved directly to disk. If you do not have a PSF400 license, you can convert AFP to PDF with IHS’s solution. The ability to convert AFP to PDF is beneficial for many reasons, including:

  • Lower paper and printing costs
  • Archive-ready PDF files
  • Easily distributable and widely accepted PDF format

AFP Print Management

AFP (developed by IBM®) is a print management architecture that uses IPDS to interact with printers. Diagram showing the makeup of a MO:DCA presentation page.  Graphic, image, text, and overlay objects can be incorporated, converted to an AFP data stream, and printed on an IPDS printer.Unlike IPDS, which is device-dependent, AFP is device-independent and object-oriented.

AFP uses the Mixed Object Document Content Architecture (MO:DCA) to define a document’s presentation. MO:DCA allows various data types, including text, images, graphics, and bar codes, to be incorporated into the final print job.

When a job is ready for printing, AFP incorporates the MO:DCA elements and then the AFP data stream is converted into an IPDS data stream by the Print Service Facility (PSF): the IBM software product that drives IPDS printers.

Even though the AFP data stream is device-independent, it becomes device-dependent when converted to IPDS.

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IPDS Background

In 1984 IBM® created a set of standards known as Systems Application Architecture (SAA). SAA was created to give programmers and system designers an easier way to link data applications with any IBM platform. Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS) is the host-to-printer data stream used by SAA for Advanced Function Printing (AFP).

IPDS provides the interface for identifying, monitoring, and controlling all-points-addressable (APA) printers, an interface that enables the presentation of pages with combinations of various data types including text, vector graphics, images, and bar codes. IPDS allows these different data types, often produced by independent applications, to be merged at print time.

IPDS also offers two-way printer communication. This collaborative interaction provides detailed exception reporting and allows IPDS to adapt to specific printer resources and to deal with errors in real time.

IPDS and ExcelliPrint

ExcelliPrint maintains IPDS’s strengths, such as complex printing abilities and two-way communication, but allows users to break from expensive IPDS printing environments. ExcelliPrint, with its Windows®-based printer and print-to-file capabilities, brings the advantages of IPDS to common print environments.

 



 

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IPDS Printing and Features

Intelligent Printer Data Stream, or IPDS, is a printing protocol developed by IBM® that is used by many back-end systems (for example, AS/400 and mainframe). IPDS contains information needed to identify, monitor, and control the functions of the printer. IPDS printers have advanced formatting capabilities including graphics, barcodes, and text; one drawback of IPDS printing environments, however, is cost: purchasing and maintaining printers designed for IPDS printing can be prohibitively expensive. For this reason, software IPDS print solutions are a cost effective alternative.

A diagram of the flow of IPDS data from an AS/400 or mainframe to a PC computer with a software IPDS print solution installed

ExcelliPrint® IPDS software is an affordable and simple drop-in replacement for expensive IPDS printers. ExcelliPrint accepts IPDS print requests from IBM iSeries and IBM zSeries® computers over TCP/IP and fully support the IPDS protocol. ExcelliPrint now supports printing IPDS to Windows Vista™.

Software IPDS solutions redirect print jobs to other printers or to file by emulating an IPDS printer. In this way, these solutions maintain the advantages of IPDS, including AFP capabilities and two-way printer and host communication, but provide greater flexibility in selecting print destinations and output types.

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