HP Officejet Pro 8600 N911g & Postscript

Posted on 2014-04-09
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-04-09
Just downloaded Scribus for DTP and their help says that most consumer printers don't really support postscript (i.e. Local printing requires a high-end PostScript printer -- which most consumer devices are NOT).

How can I determine 1) whether my HP OfficeJet is a postcript printer or to what extent it supports postscript -- and 2) is this a printer hardware question or printer driver question?

Running Windows 7 64bit

Question by:SAbboushi
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LVL 29

Accepted Solution

Bill Bach earned 2000 total points
ID: 39990228
This is a function of the printer itself.  In your case, I found this page:
Select the Specifications page if needed, then scroll down to see this line:
    Print languages, standard:       HP PCL 3 GUI, HP PCL 3 Enhanced

PCL is HP's Printer Control Language, and is NOT the same as Postscript, so it looks like you are out of luck here.  In fact, my HP LaserJet 4M+ supports PostScript just fine!  So, you have to check each printer.  

Another option is to output your PostScript data to an export file (usually with a .ps extension), then use a tool that can convert PS to PCL to actually print it, such as GhostScript.  If this is something that happens a lot, you may want to consider "Pro PS to PCL" from Crawford, too.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 39990366
BillBach is correct in that your printer does not support PostScript. However, when people say PCL they usually mean PCL5 (or possibly PCL6). PCL3 is an entirely different animal.

PCL5 and PostScript are "page description languages". They allow you to send a description of the printed page (e.g. an "A" at this position, a line from here to there, etc) to the printer. The printer then converts this to ink dots on the page. PCL3 on the other hand relies on the Windows graphics engine to do this conversion. It treats the page like a high-resolution monitor. Other low-cost printers use a similar system called GDI. It's low cost because it does not require a fast processor with lots of RAM in the printer.

BillBach  is also correct in saying that Ghostscript will let you print. Ghostscript converts the PostScript output into a printer bitmap, which is then passed through the driver to the printer.

You will need to get your application to print to a file. That file can then be picked up by Ghostscript and printed. One way to do this would be to run a batch file that "watches" a directory for the appearance of a .PS file. When one appears, it starts up Ghostscript from the command line, with parameters telling it to print the file. When that is finished the batch file can delete the .PS file, wait for a while and then loop back to the beginning.

If you are serious about DTP, you should get a PostScript printer or, better yet, a high quality inkjet (e.g. Epson) with a hardware or software RIP. A RIP will give you full control over things like colour matching, trapping, separations, etc. That will give you the best possible output. On the other hand, a PostScript laser printer will not give the same quality, but it will print at much higher speed, so you can do in-house print runs. A reasonable laser should not be more expensive than an inkjet/RIP combination.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39990371
Thank you very much!

Author Comment

ID: 39990484
hdhondt - thanks for your post.  Sorry but I didn't see it until after I had accepted Bill's response
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 39990523
No problem

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