White Paper | October 1, 2012

Now You're Speaking My Language: New Standards For Enterprise Thermal Printer Management

Source: Source Technologies, LLC

Unlike most technology solutions, thermal printers have not used an open standard programming language for communication and print control. Printer manufacturers developed their own proprietary language because it was easy to develop, required a minimal investment to enter the market and there were no incentives to standardize a printer language in the thermal printing industry.

Over the years, the lack of a standard printer language in the thermal printing industry has created problems for system integrators by:

  • Keeping administrators locked into one printer manufacturer for their printing needs
  • Preventing companies’ IT infrastructure from evolving due to slower advances in thermal printing technology
  • Requiring staff to learn many different proprietary languages
  • Incurring higher costs to maintain existing applications
  • Having no portability of label template libraries
  • Having limited or no support for international labels.

In 1984, Hewlett-Packard introduced PCL to provide an open, economical and efficient language for application programs to control a range of printer features across a number of printing devices.

PCL is a command based language using control sequences that are processed and interpreted in the order they are received. At the consumer level, PCL data streams are generated by a print driver. PCL output can also be easily generated by custom applications. Today, PCL is the “de facto industry standard” printer language.

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