[Desktop_printing] Usability: Printing roles, tasks and environments

Michael Sweet mike at easysw.com
Wed Mar 8 06:42:13 PST 2006

Ellen Reitmayr wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Michael Sweet wrote:
>> CUPS 1.2's web interface is, IMHO, a step in the right direction
>> (but hey, I'm biased ;) in that administration and printer
>> installation/configuration happen in one place for the user.
> Does there happen to be a demo online? and if so: could you give us a
> demo account where we can play a bit? :)

I'll point you at the forthcoming CUPS 1.2 beta on cups.org for
now.  I'm also doing screenshots for the new CUPS book and will
be including them with my presentation for the summit, so you'll
get a static view of the new interface in the near future as well.

>> All printers have some common configuration information:
>>     Name (queue name, sometimes human-readable, e.g. "LJ4000")
>>     Description (human-readable text, e.g. "HP LaserJet 4000")
>>     Location (human-readable text, e.g. "Building 4 Room 301")
>>     Device URI (geek-readable, e.g. "ipp://")
>>     Printer Driver (PPD filename, e.g. "hp4000_6.ppd")
>>     Page Size (e.g. "Letter", "A4", etc.)
>> Most of this can be auto-assigned via device discovery, and this is
>> how CUPS 1.2 does things...
> that means CUPS also knows about the proper ppd file when a printer is
> connected to a computer (plug-and-play)?

In general, yes.  The kicker is providing drivers for all of the
printers - that area is improving but still needs work by the
Linux distros...

>> Many printers provide optional accessors such as auto-duplexers
>> and extra paper trays.  These show up as "installable options"
>> in the PPD file and must (currently) be manually selected by the
>> user when they setup the queue:
>>     Auto Duplexer: Installed/Not-Installed
>>     Large Capacity Tray: Installed/Not-Installed
>>     ...
> is there a special reason why they have to be selected manually?

Currently there is no way to auto-detect these things via CUPS.

Apple has been working on some SNMP-based stuff for network
printers, and in some cases we can auto-detect based on 1284
device ID attributes.  That is one of the post-1.2 things we
will be working on for inclusion in CUPS 1.3, along with any
cleanup of the automated setup of printers we are introducing
in 1.2.

> and how many optional accessors may that be (max number in a high-end user)?

The high-end stuff we've worked with tops out at about a dozen -
not overwhelming.

>> Most printers offer additional device output/quality options:
>>     Media Type (plain, glossy, matte, etc.)
>>     Media source (auto, tray 1, upper, lower, etc.)
>>     Duplexing (1-sided, 2-sided long edge, 2-sided short edge)
>>     Color Mode (grayscale, color, photo, etc.)
>>     Resolution (600dpi, 2880x1440dpi, etc.)
>>     Output Tray (top, side)
>> High-end printers (basically copiers with built-in computers)
>> typically offer finishing options:
>>     Staple (top-left, side, saddle)
>>     Fold (booklet, Z-fold for brochures, etc.)
>>     2/3 Hole Punch (top, bottom, left, right sides)
>>     Mailbox (next available, specific slot, etc.)
> ok, thanks.
> are these lists complete?

No, but they cover the common things you'll see.

If you look at the Gimp/Gutenprint driver options, you'll see a
LOT of output quality controls (that is one of the major complaints
I have about the current Gutenprint drivers), and that is something
I'd like to talk about at the summit - focusing on usability WRT
driver options.

>> It might be more productive to focus more on classes of users that
>> perform all of the classic printing roles, for example:
> sure, next step ;-)
> but the classic printing roles basically cover all the tasks that need
> to be performed, no? The reason I ask is that we still need to get clear
> about the possible task space before thinking of concrete use scenarios,
> just to make sure we do not forget anything..

Yes, the printing tasks are still the same, but the roles/use cases
have evolved a bit, expanding into the home space and blurring the
lines in the business space.

Michael Sweet, Easy Software Products           mike at easysw dot com
Internet Printing and Document Software          http://www.easysw.com

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