Hi Tamas,
        Thanks For the response.  I have printed to these printers before
using rpg and understand the 'language' they talk fairly well.  What
classes/methods should I use to locate the printer in windows and send
strings of commands to it?  This is all new to me in Java and sometimes the
approach or terminology they use is so foreign to me that I can't even find
where to get started - it always looks simple after I get it to work
<smile>. 

Regards,
Rick

-----Original Message-----
From: java400-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:java400-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Tamas Perlaky
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 8:43 AM
To: Java Programming on and around the iSeries / AS400
Subject: Re: Printing in Java

Hi Rick,

There are two different issues here: (1) printing from Java 
and (2) printing to a thermal printer.

Printing from Java is relatively easy; the standard Java 
libraries include reasonably good printing APIs for obtaining 
a printer, creating pages, and using graphics primitives to 
populate the pages with text and/or graphics.  This works 
great when printing to today's typical output devices (laser 
printers, etc.).  It doesn't work so well for printing to 
line printers (dot matrix or whatever), and when I've had to 
do that in the past I've gone a bit lower level and just sent 
a text stream directly to the printer port, an approach which 
has plenty of its own issues and for which someone else may 
have a better solution.

With thermal printers (at least in the warehouse/shipping 
environments that I've worked with them in) the challenge is 
that each one has it's own printer control language to define 
the label and send data to the printer.  It's really a lot 
like printing to a line printer, except instead of printing 
lines of text you're printing control instructions.  Some 
thermal printers come with windows printer drivers that allow 
you to treat them as a regular windows printer (and there are 
third-party drivers available also) and while that would 
allow you to use the normal Java printing APIs but it would 
also mean that each label would be sent to the thermal 
printer as a bitmap, which tends to be grossly inefficient 
compared to sending raw control instructions.

If I had to do this, my approach would actually be to use a 
label printing tool (my choice would be Seagull Scientific's 
BarTender) to drive the actual label printing.  The way that 
would work is you'd define the label layout using their GUI 
interface, and then from your Java code you'd either create a 
CSV data file or populate some DB2 tables which the label 
design is tied to, and let BarTender worry about the details 
of sending that to the printer.  You can get an 
unlimited-user three-printer Enterprise license of BarTender 
for under $800, which is I suspect is much less than the cost 
of going it alone.  The main downside of this is that 
BarTender is Windows only (but the printer can be connected 
via the network).

Alternately you could just use the regular Java printing 
system with a Windows driver, or you could hit the books and 
learn the control language for your printer and control the 
printer directly.  Many current thermal printers actually 
have a direct network interface, so depending on the model 
you might be able to avoid issues of having to send data 
directly to a serial or parallel port.

Hope some of this rambling helps!

(Oh also, just in terms of general printing, there are lots 
of libraries both free and commercial to help you do 
printing/reporting from Java.  I haven't used one is several 
years as I do all my reporting to PDF via iText, but if it 
wasn't for the thermal printer requirement here I'd recommend 
looking around for one of those, too.)

t.

On 1-Feb-07, at 9:07 AM, Rick DuVall wrote:

Hi Group,

    I have written several swing apps (desktop client ->
iSeries-i5-whatever), but have never used java to print anything.   
I now
have a need to produce print-out on a little thermal 
printer as part 
of the new app I'm working on.  Can anybody point me in the right 
direction?  What I've found so far seems a bit convoluted. ;)  Of 
course much of java has struck me that way... <smile>

    I continue to dig, but pointers are always welcome.  Thanks in 
advance!



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