Saturday, September 8, 2007

OpenPrinting/LinuxFoundation: "Hiring for Implementing PDF Printing Workflow"

Here is a recent announcement from the OpenPrinting workgroup, hosted by the The Linux Foundation. It didn't receive any widespread publication, AFAICS. But it deserves to:


OpenPrinting/LinuxFoundation: "We are Hiring Students/Interns for Implementing the PDF Printing Workflow"

Posted by: Till Kamppeter

Date: August 29, 2007 09:08AM

One of the decisions which was made on the OSDL Printing Summit in Atlanta last year and widely accepted by all participants was to switch the standard print job transfer format from PostScript to PDF. This format has many important advantages, especially

  • PDF is the common platform-independent web format for printable documents
  • Portable
  • Easy post-processing (N-up, booklets, scaling, ...)
  • Easy Color management support
  • Easy High color depth support (> 8bit/channel)
  • Easy Transparency support
  • Smaller files
  • Linux workflow gets closer to Mac OS X

To turn this into reality work is needed in many components of the printing infrastructure. The japanese team of the OpenPrinting work group has already the needed CUPS filters in their Subversion repositories.

What is still missing is to make the universal print filter foomatic-rip (most printer drivers are integrated into the printing system with this filter) handling PDF input and to make the built-in printer drivers of Ghostscript also working with other renderers than Ghostscript, like XPDF/Poppler for example.

These two projects are now open for students or interns. If you like to take one of these challenges, go to the detailed project description and/or contact Till Kamppeter (till.kamppeter at gmail.com).

Till

OpenPrinting Manager
OpenPrinting (linuxprinting.org) Forum and web site administrator


You can also look at a more detailed project description.


8 comments:

Rayne Van-Dunem said...

What about SVG? Isn't that a page description language like PDF and PostScript?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_description_language

pipitas said...

In theory SVG could be seen (and used) as a PDL as well.

In practice it has no traction at all for printing, in the market, currently.

So far, SVG is used for creating computer graphics mainly. It's been only gaining some more steam in the recent 2 or so years.

But still, I'm not aware of any SVG-capable raster image processor that's being built into any printing device (or that's even under development).

So, no. SVG is no good candidate to for a central print spooling format to replace PostScript. Not for the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this may be such a good idea. Reasons:

1) Postscript is *the* standard laguage for printers. Many laser printers understand postscript (you can just cat a .ps file to /dev/printer). Other drivers convert .ps files to the custom printer language. It's de facto.

2) PDF is more convenient for viewing the document in the screen. But it has issues that are irrelevant to printing, like forms, buttons, etc.

3) PDF is still changing. New versions come every now and then and Adobe adds new features that make it more browser-line.

My suggestion is: You want to print a file? Convert the PDF to .ps and pass it on to the driver printer.

For laser printers there is no driver. For the others it will need a conversion program. CUPS?

pipitas said...

Anonymous,

thanks for your comments. However, I don't agree with "not such a good idea":


"I don't think this may be such a good idea. Reasons:"

"1) Postscript is *the* standard laguage for printers. Many laser printers understand postscript (you can just cat a .ps file to /dev/printer). Other drivers convert .ps files to the custom printer language. It's de facto."

You are right in one thing: the current de-facto standard indeed is PostScript. However, the printing industry is moving to PDF right now. A lot of current printer models (not just high-end ones, even in the range of office workgroup printers) do already directly support PDF consumption. (Microsoft of course tries to push XPS instead... but that will be the topic of another occasional blog entry of mine, some time in the future when I find the time.)


"2) PDF is more convenient for viewing the document in the screen. But it has issues that are irrelevant to printing, like forms, buttons, etc."

That's exactly one of the reasons why we need printing software that is able to handle that: ignore it, delete it when printing, whatever. (I can't get specifics -- this is exactly one of the things to be solved: how to handle non-printable contents of PDF files; the easiest thing of course would be to reject such a file and tell the reason to the user so he can fix the file.)

Also, be aware that there is an ISO standard for PDF printing (PDF/X), which explicitly prohibits the use of all PDF extensions added by Adobe to PDF versions in the recent years, such as forms, buttons, JavaScript, embedded multimedia files and more.


"3) PDF is still changing. New versions come every now and then and Adobe adds new features that make it more browser-line."

And so must the Linux and FOSS printing workflow... :-)

And again, PDF/X is a standard for PDF-based workflows that isn't changing any more. It's fixed now, you can rely on it. But we don't have yet FOSS software that is common enough to handle that. That's why The Linux Foundation has decided to put some resources into getting closer to that goal.

Also, you can be dead-sure that FOSS printing (and especially CUPS) will continue to support printing PostScript for a very long time to come, even after all modern applications may have switched to PDF output for printing. KOffice2 (part of KDE4) BTW, will start doing that.... But continued support of PostScript printing is crucial, because we must continue to support legacy (and all current) application versions, which will be around for many years still.


"My suggestion is: You want to print a file? Convert the PDF to .ps and pass it on to the driver printer."

Ha!, you do not even need to do that manually. CUPS can do that for you automatically. You want to print a PDF? Just proceed as you would with a PS file: "lp -d targetprintername -o [whatever_your_printoptions_you_need] /path/to/PDF.pdf" will work just fine, because CUPS as a builtin PDF-to-PS converter already.

However, this converter does not yet make a sophisticated PDF workflow.


"For laser printers there is no driver. For the others it will need a conversion program. CUPS?"

I don't understand what you mean with "For laser printers there is no driver."

And as I said, CUPS already has a simple converter, so you can send PDF to print, directly from the commandline, to any printer that prints with CUPS. All the other unsolved problems that may occur before getting a PDF workflow will need to be identified and solved with code.

New code. Hence the hiring.

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