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Automate printing documents from web site RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hi,

    We have a challenge that we are facing for a long time. We have a Web based WMS system. Quite simple, users performs operations, and after operations, we have to print packing slips, documents, labels, etc.

    We cannot rely on the client device to print such things, as the client devices ranges from Windows CE to Iphone to Modern browsers. It would be near impossible to have wireless printing from such a variety of devices to a variety of printers with a variety of sizes (labels). The printers in the warehouse are already well known, well configured, therefore, we prefer the web server do print to the printers directly, for a more reliable solution. We also need inter-warehouse / inter-site printing capabilities (vpn connection between sites).

    Printing from a standalone executable called by IIS was the early solution with Windows 2000, and copying the print registry keys to the Local system account (KB184291). Worked great for years.

    With 32/64 bits and printing securities, we have migrated our solution to a print service that we have built, that is running on the server and responsible to print documents from a DB table. Quite simple.

    However, we are facing many issues with printer drivers that crash / leak when printing from a windows service (running under LocalSystem account), specially on the drivers that are said "Universal" or have fancy extra features like ink monitoring and supplies purchase suggestions, which is totally unnecessary for our system. Yes we can disable such features in the driver, but it should be disabled by default when printing from a non-user account?

    We are working around the issues by using an Microsoft provided print driver, "HP Laserjet 4100 series PCL 6" or similar, which offers standard PCL 6 compliance, and is very stable with 32/64 bit software, and doesn't have such printing crash / leak / security issues. However, we seems to always fight with customers that installs the driver that comes with their device, to ask them to try another driver.

    Even Microsoft blogs says that printing from a service isn't much recommended.

    What are the best solutions you have found so far for printing such automated documents, without relying on user print dialogs / users accounts / open programs on an interactive session? Even rendering PDF becomes a challenge in a windows service.

    It seems that many printer manufacturers assumes that there will always be a user session when printing, but in our case, the user session is not available.

    Let us know your thoughts and solutions. do you think we should change our architecture, push manufacturers to support non-user profiles, or warn our users that the best stable driver remains the HP 4100 series PCL 6 driver provided by Microsoft?

    Thanks!

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017 10:58 PM