Custom Printer  Driver

Posted on 2007-11-28
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
Hi There,
     Got a unique printer driver question.

     Is there a driver or if it can be developed, which will accept the print job from the application and just returns ok (so application presumes that it has printed OK). And then it saves it a temporary file (BYTE BY BYTE) and passes the file as an argument as to another program. Generic Text Only is FINE. It is almost like having a Generic Text/Only printer with FILE port. But in place of prompting the user for a FILE output, it will just save in a temporary file and pass the file to a predefined EXE/BAT file WITHOUT any user intervention.

     You may ask why we are doing this?

     It is quite a unique situation where a legacy software can only PRINT. But we need to the print output to go to a different place than a windows printer!

     It must also be Terminal Services compliant. E.G. the EXE/BAT execution has to happen under the current user session in a multi-user environment.

    If someone can advise something here, it will be greatly appreciated! I am willing to pay for it if development is required:) (I.E. I am desperate)

Question by:simon1663
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 20371088
How about this way:

Using your favourite driver (Generic/tect Only is fine), create a fixed file as its "port". Go to to printer Properties, click on the Ports tab, and click on the Add Port button. Select Local Port and click on the New Port button. For the port name enter the drive, path and name of the file. The driver will now always send its output to that file without any prompting for a name.

Your program should watch that directory and grab the file when one appears.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 20371221
Here's a simple batch file that watches the temp direcory for a file:

If not exist C:\temp\printfilename goto wait_10_sec
your_program.exe c:\temp\printfilename
del c:\temp\printerfilename
goto start

ping -n 1 -w 10000 > nul
goto start

The ping command tries to ping once, for 10000 ms. The address ( should not be pingable. To change the delay, change the number 10000

Expert Comment

ID: 20371390
You could use a named pipe to direct the output to a pipe server.
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Author Comment

ID: 20371798
Thanks guys.

Really appreciate the help. The solution seems to work only in single user. We are trying it in a Terminal server with multiple users AND obviously if two people printed at the same time, one's job will overwrite the others! Unless you can add the port with unique names/path. E.g. I tried doing %TMP%\print.txt but that did not work. It needs a full path.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 20372524
It should work, if you use quotes, i.e. "%TMP%\print.txt"

However, if 2 people print at the same time you will still have problems, unless each one uses a separate filename. You could use something like USERNAME in the filename, i.e. "%TMP%\print%username%.txt". In that case you can then use a loop to find all the files to print, as in:

for %%f in ("%TMP%\print*.txt") do print_it.bat %%f

Where print_it.bat contains this:

your_program.exe %1
del %1

Author Comment

ID: 20373745
Thanks hdhondt, but I still get the error : "%TMP%\print.txt" is an invalid port name

I am using Windows XP SP2
LVL 38

Accepted Solution

hdhondt earned 125 total points
ID: 20377497
Oops, I overlooked that one. I was only thinking of its use within the batch file. You are correct, Windows will not accept wildcards or system variables as part of the port name.

Another way to do it is with something like RedMon, which can redirect a printer port to a program. See:

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