Intelligent Printer Data Stream
Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS) is technically not a Print Description Language (PDL), but instead a communication protocol. More specifically, it is a bidirectional communication protocol and object-oriented print stream between computer systems directly connecting with the print device. This means that graphic page content is compiled and sent using objects for fonts, text, and barcodes, raster, and vector images. IPDS can individually address all pixels on a printed page.
IPDS is related to Advance Function Presentation Data Stream (AFPDS) and Mixed Object: Document Content Architecture (MO:DCA). If the user wants to print an AFPDS document, it is usually converted to an IPDS data stream and sent to the printer in real time, which requires additional software. In contrast to AFPDS, IPDS data streams are essentially device-dependent. Before the host application converts an input data stream to IPDS, it retrieves the properties of the selected IPDS printer. Ideally the application converts the input data, customized to the printer. However, if the full potential of the printer is not used, the print quality or speed is reduced.
IPDS is the most widely used standard for transaction printing in black and white production printers. The format is also being increasingly used in full-color transaction printing. IPDS printers are available in the following varieties:
Nowadays, a wide range of low-cost office printers that support IPDS are available – a significant advantage compared to printers using other communication protocols in transaction printing. Typical speed: Fewer than 60 pages per minute.
Commercial Single-Sheet Printing Systems
These are quicker than normal office printers, but are equipped with individual sheets only. Typical speed: Between 60 and 300 pages per minute.
Particularly popular in medium to large companies that implement their customer communication using a digital workflow or customer relationship management (CRM) system based on AFP documents and then print the communication themselves. This group in particular includes machine construction companies, hospitals and manufacturing companies.
Commercial Roll-Fed Systems
These systems use roll paper instead of individual sheets of paper. The rolls are not cut into sheets until after the printing process. Roll-fed systems are available both as individual and twin systems. An individual system consists of only one printing unit and can print only one page of the paper web at a time (simplex pages). A twin system, on the other hand, consists of two print units with a flipping unit in the middle (duplex printing).
Typical speed: Between 500 and 3,000 pages per minute.
Particularly popular among printing service providers that produce invoices for banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, energy providers and public authorities (transaction printing).
High Speed Ink Jet Systems
Special Features and Benefits
- Communication in an IPDS process is a real-time problem, both for the host and the printer. Specifically, reel-fed systems often have a constant paper web speed. If the host is controlling this type of system, it needs to provide new page descriptions at least as quickly as they are processed by the printer.
- An IPDS printer limits the speed of the host. If it is too quick, the printer will refuse to accept additional data until the previous data has been fully processed. However, if the host is too slow, the printer will switch into a start-stop mode or reduce its speed.
- IPDS resources need to be downloaded to the printer before they can be used to describe pages. They also need to be deleted from memory if space is required for others. The advantage of dynamic resource management in IPDS is that print requests with tens of thousands of pages and a wide variety of different resources can be dealt with non-stop.
- The page descriptions of IPDS and AFPDS are often binarily the same or at least similar. When AFPDS is converted to IPDS, around two-thirds of the data can be copied without making changes. The remaining third requires a more complex conversion.
- IPDS printers check whether all characters and figures in the data stream have actually been printed. If anything is missing or if printing is incomplete, it will send a corresponding error notification. This automatic control function of IPDS printers is particularly important when generating account statements and checks.
Compart recently launched an output module for IPDS with its MFFIPS filter, closing the gap between the print-ready file and the actual printing process. In other words, all common entry formats – usually AFP, PostScript or PCL – can be printed directly on digital printing machines if they support the IPDS protocol. Compart products are therefore able to directly manage digital IPDS printing machines without the involvement of external software. Customers intending to use Compart products in connection with IPDS printing machines therefore receive a one-stop solution. Compart has tapped into an important market segment, as IPDS devices are widely used around the world.
Compart’s MFF filters (mixed format filter) are the basis of the MFF architecture for DocBridge products. Some MFF filters read files in different formats (input filters) while others are used to write files in the respective output format (output filters). In many cases, a format is supported for both input and output.
The strength of the Compart MFF architecture is its ability to quickly and effectively convert documents in various formats into others, or integrate them into a document using a specific format. For example, documents in AFP, SAPGOF or PCL can be converted to PDF and can also be merged into a single PDF document.
When converting one format into another, Compart uses the shared object format, the so-called presentation area (PA), which is able to represent the visual data and metadata of all supported formats. An MFF input filter converts an input file into the PA format in main memory and an MFF output filter then converts the PA format saved in main memory into an output file.
IPDS Conversion Directions
A complete overview of all supported input and output formats is provided in the Compart Matrix. Compart software solutions enables highly complex, single pass operations with flexibility and reliability for high availability, high volume environments.