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Batch PDFs out of order

Posted on 2009-03-31
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I've written an app that retreives drawings out of an old version of FileNet and batch prints the PDF files to the user's default printer. The user uploads a list of parts, the PDFs are found and sent in the order that they are processed to the printer. We haven't been able to upgrade our users to anything beyond Reader 7 because the later versions are more prone to print the drawings out of order. (The list of PDFs is typically 100 - 200 at a time).

I'm assuming that the printers involved (various makes and models) are pulling jobs from its queue in the order that it wants to. In testing, it appears that the newer versions of Reader process the drawings much faster, which makes me think that Reader 7 works better because it is slower. I've tried adding a delay, spawning multiple threads, etc to no avail.

Does anyone have any suggestions to get documents from a print queue in the order that they were sent (from each user)?  I can't save the PDFs first and combine them into one large document because of the way that FileNet works. It does not allow direct access to the PDF files on the server. They are served up when I provide the drawing key. I have no option to save the PDFs either unless the user's default condition was print to file. In that case I'd have to have a file system watcher on their PC combine the files and send them off. I don't think they'd go fo print to file as a default.
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Question by:malnack
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:hdhondt
ID: 24033913
Try changing this setting in the driver:

Go to printer Properties. Click the Advanced tab. Tick the buttons that say "Start printing after last page is spooled" and "Print spooled documents first".
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Author Comment

by:malnack
ID: 24033977
hdhondt:
When I view the printer preferences, the settings are as you decribe, but the entire panel is disabled. I assume that our system engineers have locked it up somehow. Any thoughts?
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Accepted Solution

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hdhondt earned 800 total points
ID: 24036089
When you look at the print queue (double-click the print icon in the system tray), are the documents listed in the order that they are printed? With the settings I gave that is the order they will be printed in.
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
ID: 24037535
I would work on trying to save the files first. If you can print them, they are on your system, and you should be able to capture them. That way you can then combine them into one large PDF file.
Printing seems to happen via Reader, Reader needs access to the file. If Reader can access the file, so an you. How does the print request get sent to Reader?
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Author Comment

by:malnack
ID: 24039117
Even though I am sending them to print in a specific order, they are not hitting the queue in that order. When I monitor the printer queue, my PDFs are not getting there in the order that I am sending them. I'm confused as to how that is happening. (As I am sending the print jobs, my user interface updates with the last item sent. It is displaying them in the correct order.)

Also, I'm not sure I can save the PDFs as the FileNet SDK is launching Reader silently and issuing a print command. After each one prints, that Reader window is killed and another is launched for the next one.

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LVL 44

Assisted Solution

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
Karl Heinz Kremer earned 1200 total points
ID: 24039397
The windows print queue is supposed to handle the jobs in a first in first out (FIFO) way. It is possible that your printers are actually spooling these jobs again, and based on how long it takes to process them, one job could be printed earlier than a job that was actually sent earlier. This can happen if the printer for example opens several connections to the print server, and connection 1 downloads a large file, whereas connection 2 downloads the next file in the queue that just happens to be very small. Connection 2 will be done much earlier than Con1, and the RIP will therefore start to process the second file in the queue before the first one.

You may want to look into how you can configure your printers so that they also act as FIFO devices.
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Author Comment

by:malnack
ID: 24040463
Just finished another round of testing. Same issues. The printers appear to be set up as khkremr has suggested. I also turned the Spool Image setting on the printer itself to see if it had any effect. No luck with that either.
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LVL 44

Assisted Solution

by:Karl Heinz Kremer
Karl Heinz Kremer earned 1200 total points
ID: 24042474
Talk to your printer manufacturer or your service and see if they can help you.
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Author Closing Comment

by:malnack
ID: 31565012
Thanks guys. You helped me rule out some things I hadn't considered. I've contacted our service rep for the printers for further support.
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