Note: Print Distributor has now been discontinued.

Print Distributor Discontinued

13 June 2023

I have been developing and selling Print Distributor for over twenty five years now. It started as a free utility in 1998 which I used as part of my consulting work. After several iterations I released it as a standalone product in 2001 and by 2003 it was providing my sole income. The impetus to create it came from my background in enterprise output management, in particular working with a product called FormScape. The target was customers too small to warrant a consultingware type solution but big enough that they might have the technical ability to install and configure the software. In reality my customers have ranged from small photo printing businesses to large corporations such as Siemens and Hewlett Packard.

It won’t come as a surprise to anybody that print volumes have been falling. This is clearly visible on the sales of office paper. Alongside that there has been a lot of consolidation among printer manufacturers. When I started my career it seemed that every large corporation had a division selling printers. Now there are just a handful left and they are dominated by one company.

For a long time I’ve been swimming against this tide however it was never going to last forever. It has reached the stage where the trickle of incoming orders doesn’t justify the effort to keep the business running so I have decided to discontinue it.

Just to pre-empt some questions you may have:

  • Existing customer will be able to continue running Print Distributor. It has no requirement to be online or in the cloud and no subscription is required.

  • I will continue offering support and bug fixes through to June 2024.

  • If you are an existing customer and need to add more installations then you can use your existing license code for no extra charge.

  • I don’t intend to offer Print Distributor for free or open source it.

  • We will not issue licenses for new customers, you will need to seek out an alternative.

I’m sure there will be more questions. I will update this page accordingly.

Tony Edgecombe
Frogmore Computer Services Ltd

Regular Expression Filters - 2023 Release

2 January 2023

We have just released version 2023-01-02 which includes the following new features:

New template filters regex and regexi support search and replace on variables using regular expressions.

?? DocumentName | regex "^([A-Za-z]*) ", "$1_" ??

The first parameter is the regular expression and the second is the replacement. In this case we can use regexi to make it case insensitive.

?? DocumentName | regexi "^([a-z]*) ", "$1_" ??

These filters use the .Net regular expression engine.

Run Program now supports piping stdout to a named variable. Set the Pipe standard output to property to Variable and set the Variable name property to the name of the variable. You can then use the variable in templates in following actions.

Templates now support verbatim strings via the @ character.

String parameters to filters in the template system use the backslash to escape characters such as the double quote. In order include a backslash you need to escape it itself.

?? "Yes\\No" ??

In addition to this the regex and dateformat filters also require escaping for the backslash. This double escaping can make editing these parameters messy.

?? now | dateformat "yyyy\\\\MM\\\\dd" ??

Verbatim strings can simplify this:

?? now | dateformat @"yyyy\\MM\\dd" ??

Previous versions of Print Distributor used WMI to query the host for various bits of system information as well as adding and configuring TCP/IP printer ports. This created a number of support issues as it seems WMI is broken on a significant number of machines. We would get dragged into resolving issues that had very little to do with Print Distributor. This release removes all the WMI code and relies purely on win32 calls for these tasks.

There is some improved error handling in the datetime filter which should make it easier to configure.

We have dropped support for the 32-bit editions of Windows.

As always this is a free update for users with version 5.0 and later.

Lexmark Universal Driver Changing Ports

4 March 2022

We are getting some reports that the latest version of the Lexmark Universal printer driver is changing the port number of the printer port on Print Distributor virtual printers.

The printer port is used by the virtual printer to redirect the print documents into Print Distributor so if the port is changed then Print Distributor will not receive the document and the print queue will show an error.

You can resolve this issue with these steps:

  1. Right click on the virtual printer.
  2. Select “Printer Properties”.
  3. Go to the “Ports” tab.
  4. Select “Configure Port”.
  5. Find the correct port number from the end of the field “Port Name”.
  6. Enter that number in the field “Port Number”.
  7. Select “OK”.
  8. Select “Close”.

If you change any of the other printer properties then the driver will change the port number so you will need to go through this procedure again.

We have released a small update today which checks for any mis-configured ports on startup and logs an error.

We have also contacted Lexmark to try and find a permanent fix to this problem.

Note: Switching to the Named Pipe based virtual printer also resolves this problem. This virtual printer was labelled as the Legacy printer however we have had a change of heart on that and in the latest release it is back as a fully supported virtual printer.