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PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

(OP)
I have a very simple PCL5e form-filling application, i.e., horizontal and vertical cursor decipoint movement (+ & -) that has been used with several HP inkjets over the years (j6480, v40) with no problems. I just added an OfficeJet 6700 that claims to only support PCL 3 enhanced but it seems to support the commands...except one thing. That is, the form is filled out correctly, but....

Depending on what's in the file sometimes the print job hangs before printing begins (i.e., paper is positioned for printing but then nothing prints) or it freezes after printing is completed (i.e., paper is ejected but job remains on the windows printer queue blocking other jobs). I've added 1bhE at the beginning and end and that helps...most of the time, but sometimes it's still hanging at the end of the job.

Two questions:

1. Anyone know what's going on?
2. Does anyone have or know where to get a PCL3+ programmers guide? I can find 5/6 but HP and various searches come up empty.

Thanks.

RE: PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

You've asked this question elsewhere (see http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Other-Printing-Questi... ) and I've provided some comments there.

I don't think that:
  • You'll find any publicly available PCL3GUI documentation.
  • You can rely on a PCL3-enhanced device successfully handling PCL5e print streams.

RE: PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

(OP)
Thanks for your responses. Per Jim's request, I'm attaching a dummy file (it's a US CMS-1500 health insurance claim form) that shows the very simple formatting going on. I've looked at the driver output analysis you posted, DansDad, and I see some positioning commands but if you look at the attachment for the simple stuff we're doing I'm not sure how to apply what I see in your post.

We have Win7 and WinXP systems (all current updates) and the bytestream files are queued to the printer using a simple Java program. Like I said, everything works on other printers and even on this printer some, sort of. I'm not sure I see a clear pattern yet, but it appears that the first print job after the printer boots just takes forever (several minutes after the page is ejected from the printer) to clear from the printer queue. After that, it's slow but not that slow.

Thanks for your willingness to help out.

RE: PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

(OP)
Interesting results to some further experiments. Once I was in a sample file editing out confidential info, I tried making changes to the PCL to see what works and what doesn't. Long story short, any [Esc] sequences at all causes the printer to delay by minutes after the page eject before the job is "completed." And, if there's any [Esc] sequences in the bytestream and it doesn't start with [Esc]E then the job freezes (at least for as long as I'm willing to watch it).

Slightly longer version: I noticed in the developer's guide Jim referenced that some of the commands I am using (i.e., vertical decipoint motion) have a footnote saying not supported in things after a certain model. So I started by converting those to commands that might be supported (but, again, the commands actually work properly).

Anyway, piece of junk printer is my diagnosis. Back it goes. Anyone know of a good, inexpensive inkjet that actually supports PCL with enough memory to actually use it without dying trying?

Thanks again, guys, for getting me on a productive path. Cheers.

RE: PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

Very few inkjet devices support PCL5; most current ones appear to support variations on PCL3 which (I think) HP referred to as Raster Transfer Language (RTL) in some earlier documentation.

One (current) inkjet model that appears to support PCL5 (and PCL6 and PostScript) is the HP Officejet Pro 8000 Enterprise Printer (CQ514A).
UK price is £169.00.
I have no idea if this is a 'good' printer or not.

But does your printer have to be an inkjet device?

Many modern laser printers may not be any more expensive.
Avoid the cheaper 'host-based' devices (which use different raster based languages like LIDIL and JetReady).
Check that the device supports PCL5 (either PCL5e for monochrome, or PCL5c for colour).


RE: PCL3+ vs. PCL5/6 on HP Inkjets

I have programmed PCL3+ printers for 20 years or so and NEVER had the problems
you are experiencing. Mind you, I only ever used <esc>*p###X and <esc>*p###Y for
cursor positioning. These are user units, 300 dpi by default.

The PCL3 printers were more akin to a line printer as the data was interpreted and
printed one line at a time. This made the inclusion of an image very complicated.
With the PCL3+ printers, the complete text page is buffered and a directed to the
printing mechanism as a full page, more like PCL5. Image printing is far easier as
you can, at the end of the text, issue a positioning command, print an image, then
issue a formfeed, and you have both the text and purposefully located image.
Also,scalable font are supported.

I agree with DansDad that if you are going to replace the printer, a PCL5 laser is
the only way to go. The inkjets are expensive to operate as well. Of course, the
inkjet will never have the throuhput of the laser.

Jim Asman
http://www.spectracolorservices.com

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