We had a two-part question recently about driving multiple printers. The first question was, can we do this?
The answer is, yes. RPM Remote Print Manager® ("RPM") has provided raw print, or pass-through print, starting in the earliest version. RPM also provides text print which mimics the way your computer screen displays a document. Your app doesn't need to know who manufactured your screen. Windows itself knows which device your screen is. Printers work the same way with Windows.
Whether you send your print jobs to RPM using LPD or Telnet (raw socket) your requests end up routing through a print queue. The queue has the setup instructions for processing. To send your print job to multiple printers, you would add a print action for each printer to the queue setup. For instance, to send a job to a printer unchanged, you would add a Raw Print action, and specify the Windows name of the printer.
Note that there is no penalty for adding multiple actions to a queue. RPM manages each action independently. There is no limit to the number of actions you can add to a queue, similarly no limit to the number of queues.
We have several customers who drive nearly 800 printers from RPM. The only limitation we enforce is the number of devices you use at any one given time in RPM, and the license sets that. RPM Select limits you to ten devices, and the base RPM Elite to 99. We have options beyond that.
The second question the customer had for us was what data format RPM requires.
If you are sending your data to the printer directly using a Raw Print action, then RPM doesn't require a data format at all. Only your printer needs specific data formats if you use the Raw Print action.
If you want RPM to interpret the data and do text print, then the data formats we need include text, SCS, ASA and FCFC. It's also possible to extract plain text from PCL and PostScript. The latter requires you to run an external program such as GhostScript.
Similarly, we have worked with external programs which extract plain text from other formats such as PDF. In these instances, we worked with a systems integrator and configured the print queue to use the program they provided.
RPM has a nearly unlimited ability to work with third-party software. Many of our integration partners use RPM that way.