LabelVision Classic: Technical Notes

Optimizing Print Speed
This technical note explains the various factors that affect print speed in LabelVision, including a detailed description of graphics, TrueType fonts, printer settings and printer communications.

How fast a particular label prints depends on a number of factors. If you're trying to speed up printing of a label, you must determine which of the factors is important for your label. In this document, we will describe the following factors:

1. Graphics
Graphic images (both variable and constant) are bitmapped and downloaded to the printer at print-time. Depending on your printer, graphics may be stored in the printer's memory. See section 3 for information about files in printer memory.

Also, most printers support some kind of graphic compression to reduce the size of the downloaded graphic. In that case, graphics with large areas of black or white achieve better compression, and are therefore quicker to download.

2. TrueType Fonts
The Hewlett Packard LaserJet, DATAMAX, most Fargo, and most Zebra printers support printing TrueType fonts. If your printer is not listed here, then this section does not apply to you.

When you use TrueType fonts on your label, LabelVision draws all the necessary letters of each font, and saves the pre-drawn font files in the label file for eventual download to the printer.

Note that every time you use a different font name, size or style, LabelVision must create and download a different font file. In other words, Arial 12 point and Arial 12 point bold are entirely different font files. To improve print speed, first minimize the number of different font files included on your label.

TrueType fonts are actually faster than printer generated "smooth" fonts in some cases. When you print with printer generated smooth fonts, the printer must draw every character every time you print. When you print with TrueType fonts (after the fonts are downloaded), the fonts are already drawn in printer memory and can print faster. However, you must weigh this speed improvement against the extra printer memory and download time required by TrueType fonts.

The next step to reduce download time for TrueType fonts is to make sure that LabelVision downloads only the characters that are actually required. For constant text, LabelVision will automatically determine which characters are used. However, when you include a field in a text object which uses a TrueType font, you should click on the "TrueType Data" button for that field (from the "Add Field" or "Edit Field" dialog box). This brings up the "Allowable Data for Field" dialog box which lets you define which types of characters might be included in the field. Then, LabelVision will download only those characters, and won't waste any time downloading characters you don't need. Note that LabelVision collects all the characters used by all text objects which have the same TrueType font (name, size and style) on the label, and downloads them in a single font file to the printer.

Finally, font files are stored in printer memory. See section 3 for more information about storing files in printer memory.

3. Files Stored in Printer Memory
On certain printers, fonts and/or graphic files can be stored in the printer's memory. If you will be printing the same label repeatedly (even in different print sessions), or you are sharing graphics and/or TrueType fonts between labels, then you can speed up printing if you allow LabelVision to re-use the files it already downloaded.

DATAMAX, Zebra and most Fargo printers support stored graphic files. Hewlett Packard LaserJet (only in left-to-right label orientation), DATAMAX, most Fargo, and most Zebra printers support stored TrueType font files. If your printer does not support stored files, then this section does not apply to you.

To re-use a font or graphic file, LabelVision must know that the file exists in the printer's memory. You can ensure this in one of two ways:

  1. DATAMAX, most Zebra and most Fargo printers support directory commands, which allow LabelVision to read the contents of the printer's memory. Enabling two-way communications for these printers allows LabelVision to reuse font and graphic files.
  2. Even if you cannot inquire the directory command (either because your printer does not support it, or because you operate in one-way communications), you can avoid re-downloading files to printer memory. So long as you stay within the same LPRINT session and do not exit, LabelVision remembers which files have been downloaded to the printer. Once the print program is terminated this information is lost. Printing from the LabelVision Designer or a LabelVision menu creates a new print session every time you print, and LabelVision, therefore, does not remember what files are in the printer.

Also note that all files are removed from a printer's memory when LabelVision detects that the memory is full. Likewise, turning off your printer will erase all files from the printer's memory (with the exception of a Fargo or DATAMAX printer with non-volatile memory).

4. Communications Settings
The communication settings in the print program can also affect print speed. There are two basic types of communication: parallel or serial. Parallel communication is always one-way (i.e., LabelVision cannot read data from the printer), but serial communication can be either one-way or two-way. In two-way, LabelVision can read printer information. You can change the communication settings from the "Edit Printer" dialog box in either the Print program or the Application Editor.

Although parallel communication is faster than serial, serial communication allows LabelVision to use the directory command (see section 3 for an explanation) and might prevent the download of graphic or font files. Therefore, the right choice for your application should be determined as follows:

Parallel communication is fastest under the following circumstances:

  1. You do not need to exit the print program each time you print, but rather will keep it open.
  2. You are printing on a printer that doesn't support the directory command (e.g., LaserJet or Sato).
  3. You have a lot of different labels, with very little or no TrueType fonts or graphics in common.

Otherwise, use serial two-way communications.

If you're printing to a networked printer, then you have no choice but to use parallel, one-way printing. Serial ports cannot be re-routed to a network printer.

5. Printer Features
For some printers (such as Zebra), LabelVision will optimize reprints of the same label with different data. In these printers, only the variable information is downloaded for the second and subsequent prints within the same print session. A good example would be printing the same label with data from multiple database records.

Also note that many printers have a print speed setting, which is adjustable with LabelVision. You can set the print speed from the "Select Printer" dialog box in the label Designer. You should choose the highest print speed setting that doesn't degrade the quality of the label being printed.

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