Print management: Why did directprint.io decide to write a new print stack for the Web?

In a word: Control

We wanted to be able to offer customers maximum control and flexibility over Chromebook printing.  By deploying a full print stack as a JavaScript Chrome Application or Extension, directprint.io’s print management system is able to control every aspect of printing.

From page formatting to low-level communications protocols, the directprint.io stack allows a high degree of printer configuration management.

At first, replacing the functionality of the full CUPS (www.cups.org) print back-end seemed like a daunting challenge. However, with advances in the JavaScript language and speed improvements in the underlying JavaScript engine, it turns out that handling memory intensive print jobs in JavaScript is not only possible but one of the most sensible approaches for browser-based devices.

Juicing JavaScript

By carefully combining crafted algorithms with our knowledge of turbo-charging JavaScript applications on low-power devices (i.e. Chromebooks), directprint.io is able to leverage the development pace and flexibility of JS without succumbing to the historic JavaScript slowness.

Due to JavaScript’s single-threaded architecture, it is important to maintain system responsiveness during processor intensive operations. Operations such as applying filters and reformatting documents to different formats (i.e. Postscript, PCL, PDF, AirPrint) are necessary so that devices work in collaboration with the vast majority of printers on the market today.

directprint.io code sample printing on Chromebooks

We use technology such as Web Workers and ArrayBuffers to max-out the performance and keep the user experience glitch-free.

New for Old

By having full control of the web stack, users are able to use support printers that may have previously been deployed but are now considered ‘elderly’.  For example, directprint.io Print Management System supports ten-year-old HP printers that implement an unusual page description language.

When a print stack is delivered as an application on Chrome, updates to the print system are not tied to the operating system release cycle. This means that directprint.io can add printer support, fix bugs or  respond to specific customer requirements faster and more efficiently than using a solution which relies on operating system level support. Unlike Chrome which is updated approximately once every 6 weeks, directprint.io can be updated as often as required without interruption.

Release number? What’s that?

The same rapid-deploy ethos extends to our printer management back-end. A Cloud Service is frequently updated according to new feature availability and direct customer feedback.

As directprint.io is a Cloud Service, you’ll never hear us talk about server release version numbers or any other legacy terms associated to on-premise print management.

no release numbers for print management software
No release numbers in the Cloud

Do you know the current version number of Google Docs? Nope, me either, and I don’t care. Print management software should be the same. You need to know you have the latest, greatest version, which you do, by default – no upgrades required.

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