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Controlling printing through credits

Posted on 2003-10-27
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Last Modified: 2010-05-01
Hi,

I am writing an Internet Cafe application and have mostly all of it complete.
However, I am trying to implement a chargeable printing module.

I want customers to be able to buy 'Printing Credits' and then only be able to print if they have adequate credits.
This must work for all applications, so presumably must require some API work.

i.e.  No matter what application the user is in (Word, Notepad, IE etc), when they click Print, I need to be able to either allow the print or reject it if they don't have the required credits.  At this stage, I am not concerned with details such as whether or not the print job is in colour, but I must know how many pages are being printed.

Thanks in advance,

James.
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Question by:James_Andrews
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6 Comments
 
LVL 86

Assisted Solution

by:Mike Tomlinson
Mike Tomlinson earned 600 total points
ID: 9629065
Here is a tutorial page to get you started on the monitoring side of the app.

http://www.merrioncomputing.com/Programming/WatchPrinter.htm
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Assisted Solution

by:Merrion
Merrion earned 900 total points
ID: 9633298
Do the users log in with distinct login names?  If not you may have some difficulty determining who printed what...

IMO the best way to prevent printing once a users credit has expired is to remove him/her from the printers DACL so they have no rights to print.  Any solution that relies on deleting jobs may cause a high load on the print server and might even miss jobs being printed...
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Author Comment

by:James_Andrews
ID: 9666528
Thanks guys,

I can't really add users to a group because that would allow them to print as many pages as they like.  Also, don't NT group permissions take effect at the next login (when the NT sec token is issued)?

What about creating a Virtual print device which did the job filtering and passes authorised jobs to the real print device?
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LVL 2

Assisted Solution

by:Merrion
Merrion earned 900 total points
ID: 9666563
One of our clients has implemented a similar type of system by intercepting the Job_Added event and setting the print job's start time and endtime to just before midnight.  This allows the job to spool fully but it doesn't start printing out.  Then you check the number of pages and decide if it is over quota.  If so you delete the print job, if not you unset the print job start and end time so it then prints out.
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Author Comment

by:James_Andrews
ID: 9666729
Thanks for the quick response.

Is there a non .Net version of the MCL Printer Monitor Component?
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LVL 2

Accepted Solution

by:
Merrion earned 900 total points
ID: 9669648
I'm afraid not - there is a freeware source (in two parts) in VB6 at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MerrionComputing/

Files are called PrintWatchServer.zip and PrintWatchClient.zip...could probably be adapted for your requirement?
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