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Is there a way to scan or analyze a Word document that is crashing Xerox Workcenter 5225

Posted on 2012-04-10
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Last Modified: 2012-04-13
We've a XEROX WorkCentre 5225 copier/printer that crashed when one of our consultants tried to print a certain word file.  When the Xerox tech disconnected the printer and restarted the printer he went into jobs and cancelled that job and the problem was all solved.  He said the printer would print the banner page (we have a number of consultants) then crap out after that.  

He said that the RAM would hang up or mess up and suggested we could let them packet-sniff the file to find out exactly what in the Word document is causing the issue.  But we have sensitive contracts and confidentiality is a big part of the work we do so we wanted to know if there was some program/app that we could use to analyze/test the document ourselves and see if we could find the issue.

Information relating to this incident:
1.  There are 2 drivers:  Post Script and non-Post Script.  Using non-PS caused problems while the PS printed everything fine.
2.  We have 2 Xerox Workcenters, 7755 and 5225, both of which encountered errors when user's choose the non-PS driver.
3.  The tech guy said that Microsoft updated/changed the Calibri font last year and he ended up having to resolve some major issues for some of his clients last summer.

My boss wants to find a way we can check files since we might have more issues in the future.  We tend to have issues with client's templates conflicting with our own templates.  Does anyone know a way to do this pack scan ourselves?
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Question by:HSI_guelph
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by:DansDadUK
ID: 37831864
>> ... that crashed ... then crap out after that ...

Did the printer just stop, or did it display (or print) any error message(s)?
Error messages may give some clue as to the underlying reason for the "crash".

I'm not aware of any tool for analysing Word documents, and even if there is such a beast, since the document appears to work when you use a PostScript printer driver (implying that the document itself is valid), just what would you look for?

The 'PRN File Analyse' tool in the 'PCL Paraphernalia' application (available via http://www.pclparaphernalia.eu ) can be used to analyse a captured (i.e. 'print to file') PCL5 or PCL6 print stream.
But (as with analysis of Word documents), you probably need some clues (either from error messages, or by comparing the faulty print stream with one which doesn't cause the "crash") to stand even a small chance of trying to find out what is wrong.

... and even if you do find out what (in PCL5 or PCL6 terms) appears to be the cause, what can you then do about it?
Assuming that the printer driver is a Microsoft or printer-vendor-supplied one, all that you may be able to do is lobby them to investigate the fault and produce an updated driver.

... and it could, of course, be a Word problem, in the sense of an error in the interaction between Word and the printer driver during the print process.

So, as an initial step, I'd make sure that Office and your printer drivers are all the latest versions and/or have all the latest updates applied.
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by:DansDadUK
ID: 37831877
... and another thing you could do with a captured print stream is to copy the contents of the resultant .PRN file direct to the printer port of a different PCL printer (using 'copy' or 'lpr', depending on how the printer is connected) to see if that also "crashes" in the same way.

For TCP/IP connected devices, the 'PRN File Print' tool in the 'PCL Paraphernalia' application effectively does the same as the 'lpr' copy method (albeit using Port 9100).
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Author Comment

by:HSI_guelph
ID: 37834147
The printer gave an error message stating there was a fault and to restart the printer and the error message was 116-324 but the Xerox guy said it was a general error # and wouldn't be of much use.  The packet sniffer the Xerox tech guy described would analyse the stream as the document was sent to the printer and a guy in TO (who's supposed to be awesome at reading this incomprehensible data) would look at it and find what in the document creates the problem.
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DansDadUK earned 500 total points
ID: 37837294
>> ... tech guy described would analyse the stream as the document was sent to the printer ...

What he would be analysing is the print stream containing a PCL or PCL XL representation of your document, as generated by the PCL5 or PCL6 printer driver, under 'instruction' from Word.

The print stream would not contain anything in Word format (i.e. if you opened a captured print stream file in Word, it wouldn't have a clue what it was).

Analysing the print stream MAY yield clues as to why the printer is "crashing", but it is not necessarily that straight-forward, unless there is an obvious error in the structure or content of the stream - with PCL6 I'd probably have expected the printer to print off a "PCL XL error page".

Having said that, if you are using fonts (such as Calibri) which are NOT printer-resident on standard LaserJet printers (and probably not on Xerox ones either), then the printer driver will dynamically generate and download in the print stream a PCL pr PCL XL version of (a subset of) the donor Windows font.
If the 'problem' font used in the source document is (as is likely) a TrueType font, then the driver will probably generate a PCL (or PCL XL) -Encapsulated TrueType Outline (PCL(XL)ETTO) version, but (depending on driver option/preference settings) it may generate a bitmap font rendition of the source font.

... and it may be that the generated and downloaded font is corrupt in some way.
Most printers will ignore a corrupt font download, but it may be that the corruption is so catastrophic that the interpreter in the firmware can't handle it.
The 'PRN File Analyse' tool in 'PCL Paraphernalia' MAY detect a corruption (if the 'Analyse Font Header' and 'Analyse Font Characters' options are selected), but the tool only checks structure and a certain amount of content, not everything.

Easiest way to check would be (as I mentioned before) to capture a print stream and send (the contents) to a different model of printer (e.g. LaserJet 4250) to see what that makes of it.

But (as you don't want others to see your data), if you do capture a print stream, do try to analyse it as mentioned above, to see if the analysis yields any clues..
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by:HSI_guelph
ID: 37838921
Thank you very much for your input!  We don't think we are equipped at this time to sniff the packets and may or may not let the Xerox guys do it.  Right now its not a priority but now we are more informed should we decide to address this later.
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by:DansDadUK
ID: 37841714
You'd only need to "sniff the packets" if it was thought that the print stream generated by the driver was valid, but then corrupted in some way in being "transported" from the driver output, via ports/switches/cables/etc. to the printer.

Normally, it would be much easier to capture the print stream 'at source', by using the "print to file" option available via the Print dialogue of (most) printer drivers; then the resultant .PRN file can be analysed, or sent to another device for comparison purposes.
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