Virtual Printers

Note: Print Distributor has now been discontinued.

Virtual Printers are the mechanism Print Distributor uses to receive print jobs. You can create as many as you need and each one has it’s own defined actions that control what happens when you print to it.

There are three types of virtual printer available.

Standard Virtual Printer

This is the most common virtual printer. Standard virtual printers look like any other printer to users and Applications. They have a printer driver associated with them which controls settings like paper size and which tray to use. They can be shared just like any other Windows printer. They also queue incoming print jobs.

Right clicking on a standard printer gives you access to the printers properties which let you set the physical configuration and preferences which control the document defaults.

Internally the standard printer uses TCP/IP over a loopback port to receive jobs, this is not available for direct access as it is integrated tightly into the Windows print queue mechanisms.

Direct Virtual Printer

The direct virtual printer listens on a TCP/IP port for incoming jobs. Typically this is port 9100 but you can change this and will need to if you have multiple printers as they can’t share a single port.

This printer does not have a printer driver associated with it, it assumes the print document is rendered on the host and will arrive as a raw print format such as PostScript or PCL.

The protocol is sometimes refered to as App Direct, it originated with early HP print servers and assumes the host opens a connection, dumps the print file and disconnects. This virtual printer does not support LPR/LPD on port 515, that can be achieved using the Microsoft LPD service.

It is important to note this protocol does not support encryption, authentication or authorisation. For these reasons it should be considered the last resort. If you can use the standard printer instead.

Legacy Virtual Printer

If you upgrade from Print Distributor 6 the virtual printers will all use the legacy virtual printer type. It uses a protocol called Named Pipes to receive print jobs. Some applications (Adobe Acrobat in particular) can have problems with this type so we do not recommend it for new applications.

Printer Drivers

Both the standard and legacy virtual printers have a Windows printer driver associated with them. This means all the printer settings such as which paper tray to pull from are set when the document is printed to the virtual printer. They cannot be overriden by settings in any of the physical printers you reprint to.