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Managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment

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Title: Managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment.
Abstract: Methods, systems, and devices are described for dynamic print server generation in a distributed printing environment. In these methods, systems, and devices, a print router may receive a print job from a print source over a unidirectional print data path. The print router may transmit the print job to a print job destination associated with a printer of a number of printers in communication with the print router. The print router may receive a message from the printer and transmit the message from the printer to the print job source over a network path separate from the unidirectional print data path. ...


Browse recent Aventura Hq, Inc. patents - Denver, CO, US
Inventors: Joe Jaudon, David Lowrey, Adam Williams
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120092722 - Class: 358 115 (USPTO) - 04/19/12 - Class 358 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120092722, Managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment.

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CROSS REFERENCES

The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/394,264, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all it discloses.

BACKGROUND

Embodiments of the invention relate to computer network communication, and more particularly, printing in a dynamic roaming environment. Organizations often use a variety of computing devices. Various computer systems may use a thin-client or a virtual desktop display in conjunction with a centralized server or mainframe, and also use traditional workstations and handheld devices.

A thin-client may be a computing device that includes hardware, software, or both in a client-server architecture network. However, such a network may use a central server for processing and may transmit and receive input and output over a network or other communication medium established between the device and the remote server. In some examples, a thin-client device may run web browsers or remote desktop software, such that significant processing may occur on the server.

Printing in such environments may present a number of significant challenges. Traditionally, print drivers are stored and maintained on each device, and this can cause administrative overhead and maintenance issues. The problem may be exacerbated with mobile thin-clients and other mobile devices, as the number of drivers that may need to be stored can increase substantially as more printers become available.

There are also challenges related to communicating with printers in a dynamic environment. For example, in a distributed printing system, it may be a challenge to receive printer status updates in a dynamic environment using a unidirectional backend architecture. Thus, there may be a need in the art for novel system architectures to address one or more of these issues.

SUMMARY

Methods, systems, and devices are described for managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment.

In one set of embodiments, a distributed printing system includes a number of printers, a print job source, a backend in communication with the print job source, and a print router in communication with the backend and a number of print job destinations associated with a number of printers. The backend receives a print job from the print job source and transmits the print job over a unidirectional print data path to a print router. The print router receives the print job from the backend over the unidirectional print data path of the backend, transmits the print job to a print job destination associated with one of the printers, receives a message from the printer, and transmits the message from the printer to the print job source over a network path separate from the unidirectional print data path.

In another set of embodiments, a method of printing in a distributed printing environment includes receiving a print job at a print router from a print job source over a unidirectional data path. The print job is transmitted from the print router to a print job destination associated with a printer of a plurality of printers in communication with the print router. A message is received from the printer, and the message is transmitted to the print job source over a network path separate from the unidirectional print data path.

In another set of embodiments, a print router apparatus includes a print data receiving module, a print data forwarding module, a message receiving module, and a message forwarding module. The print data receiving module is configured to receive a print job from a print job source over a unidirectional print data path. The print data forwarding module is communicatively coupled with the print data receiving module and configured to transmit the print job from the print router to a print job destination associated with the printer. The message receiving module is configured to receive a message from the printer. The message forwarding module is communicatively coupled with the message receiving module and configured to transmit the message from the printer to the print job source over a network path separate from the unidirectional print data path.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the following drawings. In the appended figures, similar components or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a dash and a second label that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a central server computer system in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a data store in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a backend in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating a logical path taken by print data in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating an example of a system for managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating a logical path taken by a printer feedback message in a system for managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a block diagram illustrating an example of a print router, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating an example of a system for managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of printing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of printing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of printing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram that illustrates a representative device structure that may be used in various embodiments of the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

The present description sets forth examples of systems, methods, and devices for managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment. In these systems, methods, and devices, a print router receives a print job from a print job source over a unidirectional print data path. The print router forwards the print job to a print job destination associated with a printer, and receives a message from the printer. The message is transmitted to the print job source over a network path other than the unidirectional print data path.

This description provides examples, and is not intended to limit the scope, applicability or configuration of the invention. Rather, the ensuing description will provide those skilled in the art with an enabling description for implementing embodiments of the invention. Various changes may be made in the function and arrangement of elements.

Thus, various embodiments may omit, substitute, or add various procedures or components as appropriate. For instance, it should be appreciated that the methods may be performed in an order different than that described, and that various steps may be added, omitted or combined. Also, aspects and elements described with respect to certain embodiments may be combined in various other embodiments. It should also be appreciated that the following systems, methods, devices, and software may individually or collectively be components of a larger system, wherein other procedures may take precedence over or otherwise modify their application.

Systems, devices, methods, and software are described for managing printer feedback within a distributed printing environment. In one set of embodiments, shown in FIG. 1, system 100 includes a central server computer system 105, a data store 110, print servers 145, and printers 150. Each of these components may be in communication with each other, directly or indirectly.

The central server computer system 105 may include a rules engine 130, a session manager 135, and a print router 140. The central server computer system 105 may be made up of one or more server computers, workstations, web servers, or other suitable computing devices. The central server computer system 105 may be fully located within a single facility or distributed geographically, in which case a network may be used to integrate different components.

The central server computer system 105 may receive a print job. The print job may be received from a windows session 125. Alternatively, the print job may be received from an application session 115 via a backend 120. The print job may also or alternatively be received from an application session 115 via a cloud computing environment (not specifically shown). The print job may be received from thin-clients (e.g., SUN RAY clients available from Oracle Corporation, WYSE clients available from Wyse Technology, etc.), thick clients (e.g., desktops, laptops), mobile devices, tablets, etc., although these devices are not specifically shown in the diagram Moreover, the print job may be received from any type of desktop or virtual desktop environment. Examples of suitable desktop environments from which the print job may be received include, but are not limited to, LINUX environments based on the open-source Linux kernel; WINDOWS environments based on software available from Microsoft, Inc.; OS/X environments based on software available from Apple, Inc.; VMWARE virtual environments based on software available from VMware, Inc.; CITRIX virtual environments based on software available from Citrix Systems, Inc.; Windows Terminal Services/Remote Desktop virtual environments based on software available from Microsoft, Inc.; ANDROID environments based on software available from Google, Inc.; IOS environments based on software available from Apple, Inc.; WEBOS environments based on software available from Hewlett Packard Company; combinations thereof; and the like. In some embodiments, the central server computer system 105 may receive notice or identification for a print job, and perform the functionality described herein based on such notice or identification only.

A set of drivers may be stored at data store 110. Data store 110 may be a single database, or may be made up of any number of separate and distinct databases. The data store 110 may include one, or more, relational databases or components of relational databases (e.g., tables), object databases, or components of object databases, spreadsheets, text files, internal software lists, or any other type of data structure suitable for storing data. Thus, it should be appreciated that a data store 110 may each be multiple data storages (of the same or different type), or may share a common data storage with other data stores. Although in some embodiments the data store 110 may be distinct from a central server computer system 105, in other embodiments it may be integrated therein to varying degrees.

As noted above, notification of a requested print job may be received at the central server computer system 105. A session manager 135 may receive the notification, and may assign a terminal identifier (TID) to a device requesting the job. The central server computer system 105 may identify information about the print job (e.g., identification and location of the applicable print server 145 and printer 150, and identification of the proper driver). Drivers for the print job may be transmitted to the appropriate print server 145 and to the client device requesting the job. The drivers may be installed, and the device and print server 145 may execute the print job with the installed drivers. Thus, the central server computer system 105 may access the data store 110 to distribute drivers to the print server 145 or the device, and thus in some embodiments the drivers do not need to be maintained on each device or print server 145. The drivers may be taken down or uninstalled after each job, set of jobs, or period with no use.

It should be understood that the print servers 145 may be any real or virtual machine or environment that hosts a print driver for controlling a printer 150. Thus, in certain examples a print server 145 may be implemented by circuitry, logic, and/or software within the printer 150. Additionally or alternatively, a print server 145 may include a real or virtual network server and/or a personal computing device in communication with a printer 150.

In some embodiments, the central server computer system 105 may use the information about a print job to identify an appropriate operating system (OS) and print driver for the print server for a given print job. The central server computer system 105 may access the data store 110 to retrieve the operating system and print driver, and build an operating system in real-time in response to receiving a print job. The central server computer system 105 may install the appropriate driver, thus creating a virtual print server (which may, but need not be, print server 145). The virtual print server executes the print job. After the print job is complete, the driver and operating system may be taken down.

In some embodiments, a printer 150 is selected (e.g., automatically or by a user). The print router 140 at the central server computer system 105 may receive the selection. At the print router 140, the selected printer may be mapped to a 1) driver of a table of drivers, and 2) a print server 145 of a table of print servers. In certain examples, this mapping may be performed based on static relationships between printers, drivers, and print servers. For example, these static relationships may be stored as tables within the data store 110.

Additionally or alternatively, a rules engine 130 at the central server computer system 105 may be used in the selection of the printer. The rules engine 130 may be configured to dynamically map a print job to a print server 145 and printer 150 for the print job. By way of example, upon notification or receipt of the print job, the rules engine 130 may access a set of rules to determine the correct print server 145 and printer 150 for the print job. The rules may dynamically make this determination based on the location of the device. The type of device, attributes of the print job, and other factors may be used by the rules engine 130 to determine the correct type and location for the print server 145 and printer 150. This rules engine 130 functionality may not be necessary in all embodiments of the invention to identify an appropriate printer 150, print server 145, or driver for a print job. Accordingly, the rules engine 130 may be eliminated from certain embodiments.

In some embodiments, feedback from a printer 150 is received at the print server 145, and then forwarded on to a print router 140. The print router 140 may route the feedback (e.g., job failed, out of ink, out of paper, etc.) to the client device. This report may be in the form of a dialogue box. The feedback may be routed to avoid the backend 120, even when the print job is initially routed through the backend 120. In response to feedback from a print router 140, a client device may direct or route a print job. This routing may be to a new printer, or may call up alternative functionality (e.g., a new tray) for a printer that is already in use. Thus, instead of unidirectional printing, print jobs (e.g., sent through a backend 120) may be controlled by two-way communication between the print router 140 and the device.

The components of the system 100 may be directly connected, or may be connected via a network (not shown), which may be any combination of the following: the Internet, an IP network, an intranet, a wide-area network (“WAN”), a local-area network (“LAN”), a virtual private network, the Public Switched Telephone Network (“PSTN”), or any other type of network supporting data communication between devices described herein, in different embodiments. A network may include both wired and wireless connections, including optical links. Many other examples are possible and apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure. In the discussion herein, a network may or may not be noted specifically. If no specific means of connection is noted, it may be assumed that the link, communication, or other connection between devices may be via a network.

Session manager 135 may include an API architecture which serves as the communication control point, managing virtual desktop sessions and brokering sessions for clients to backend 120 virtual desktop and application sessions. The session manager 135 may broker and pass through mechanisms for client devices to active virtual sessions. The central server computer system 105 may include a centralized management console (not shown), which may be a web-based management console for configuration, real time monitoring, and reporting. There may be management capabilities for the entire virtual desktop/application environment.

FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a central server computer system 105-a. The central server computer system 105-a may be one example of the central server computer system 105 in FIG. 1. The central server computer system 105-a shown in FIG. 2 includes a rules engine 130, a session manager 135, a print router 140-a, and a print server manager 205. The rules engine 130 and the session manager 135 shown in FIG. 2 may be substantially the same as the rules engine 130 and the session manager 135 shown in FIG. 1. The print router 140-a may be one example of the print router 140 shown in FIG. 1.

The print router 140-a may match print jobs received from external sessions 115, 125 to one or more destination printers 150 and/or print servers 145. To accomplish these tasks, the print router 140-a may include at least a print data receiving module 210, a print source identification module 215, a print parameters identification module 220, a printer destination identification module 225, and a printer feedback routing module 230.

The print data receiving module 210 may be configured to receive print data corresponding to a print job from an external session 115, 125 via a communication channel established by the session manager 135. In certain embodiments, the print data received from the external session 115, 125 may be in the form of one or more page description languages (PDLs). Examples of page description languages that may be received at the receiving module 210 include, but are not limited to, PostScript, Portable Document Format (PDF), Printer Command Language (PCL), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Open XML Paper Specification (XPS), and any other page description language that may suit a particular implementation of the principles described herein.

In other embodiments, the print data received from the external session 115, 125 may be in the form of text or images for use with a standard template stored by a print server 145 or a printer 150. For example, the print data may be used to print a personalized bracelet worn by a patient in a medical facility. In this example, the print data may include text corresponding to the name of the patient, and the name of the patient\'s doctor. This text, when received by a print server 145 or a printer 150, may be applied to a standard bracelet template to print a bracelet having the name of the patient and the name of the patient\'s doctor.

In additional or alternative embodiments, the print data received by the print data receiving module 210 may be in the form of an image that has already been rasterized by the external session 115, 125 in preparation for delivery to a printer 150.

The print data receiving module 210 may be configured to cache the received print data at a designated storage area. In certain examples, the designated storage area may be in a data store 110. The cached print data may be accessible to the rules engine 130 or any other module or process.

The print source identification module 215 may be configured to analyze the received print data to determine certain attributes or characteristics of the received print data. These attributes or characteristics may also be stored for use by the other modules or processes. For example, the print source identification module 215 may associate the received print data with a format in the data store 110. This format information may be available to the rules engine 130 for use in enforcing one or more rule sets.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120092722 A1
Publish Date
04/19/2012
Document #
13276065
File Date
10/18/2011
USPTO Class
358/115
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06F3/12
Drawings
14


Print Server


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