JP5663983B2 - Image forming apparatus, connection control method, and program - Google Patents

Image forming apparatus, connection control method, and program Download PDF

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JP5663983B2
JP5663983B2 JP2010154248A JP2010154248A JP5663983B2 JP 5663983 B2 JP5663983 B2 JP 5663983B2 JP 2010154248 A JP2010154248 A JP 2010154248A JP 2010154248 A JP2010154248 A JP 2010154248A JP 5663983 B2 JP5663983 B2 JP 5663983B2
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connection
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image forming
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JP2012019291A (en
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和徳 杉村
和徳 杉村
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株式会社リコー
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Description

  The present invention relates to an image forming apparatus, a connection control method, and a program.

  In recent years, image forming apparatuses (MFP: Multi-Function Peripheral) are related to MFP such as CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance improvement, memory capacity increase, communication technology speed up and digital image technology advancement. With the evolution of this technology, various functions such as a networked facsimile, printer, and scanner function are installed in addition to functions as a digital copying machine, and are used in various situations in a user's environment.

  Such an image forming apparatus (hereinafter referred to as MFP) includes hardware resources used in image forming processing such as a display unit, a printing unit, and an imaging unit, and is provided for each user service such as a printer, a copy, or a facsimile. Management of hardware resources that are commonly required by multiple applications when providing multiple user-installed applications and providing user services by interposing these applications and hardware resources. And a platform including various control services for performing execution control and image forming processing. Since such an MFP is provided with an application and a control service separately, new functions and extended functions can be easily added to the MFP, for example, in the form of a plug-in even after the device is shipped. .

  Here, the application for realizing the various functions to be added can be developed and provided by a third party (external vendor or the like) in addition to the device developer (manufacturer). In order to support this third-party application, the device developer prepares a general-purpose I / F (platform for external developers) such as SDK (Software Development Kit) so that users and external vendors can Has been developed so that the processing contents of the image processing apparatus can be freely customized to some extent. In this way, in recent MFPs with high expandability, there are various environments such as in-house applications that realize the basic functions of the system, as well as applications of other companies that are introduced and realize new functions and expansion functions. It is known that the application developed below is designed to operate (see, for example, Patent Document 1).

  As described above, the conventional platform for external developers enables easy development of MFP applications by a third party. As a result, the number of MFP applications has dramatically improved. However, when many applications are installed on the MFP, the configuration within the platform is complicated, and above all, the performance of basic functions (copying, printing, etc.) that the user mainly wants to use is affected. The situation has arisen.

  FIG. 1 is a configuration diagram of a conventional MFP platform. In the MFP platform 100, applications such as a copy application 111 and a printer application 112 are realized by using various functions inside the main body. For example, the copy application 111 which is a standard application of the MFP is realized by using an internal function A (scan) 121 and an internal function B (print) 122 as functions inside the main body.

  In addition, in order to enable application development using functions inside the main body, an external publication platform 200 is arranged, and an external publication function A201, an external publication function B202, and an external publication function C203 are provided. These functions for external disclosure provide functions that are externally disclosed to external applications, but the functions for external disclosure are actually similar to standard applications such as the copy application 111 and the printer application 112. It is implemented using internal functions. That is, the function for external disclosure substantially plays a mediating role (interface) with the internal function inside the main body. However, when viewed from the external applications 301, 302, etc., the functions inside the main body (for example, the internal function A121, the internal function B122,...) Cannot be seen directly, and the functions for external disclosure are used to the last. This is to make it easier to develop applications for users and external vendors by preparing a general-purpose I / F (platform 200 for external developers) more generally (internal function details are disclosed). There is also significance to prevent).

  When an external application is developed and installed in the MFP, first, the external applications 301, 302, 303, etc. are installed using the installation processing unit 204. After being installed, each external application realizes operation using an optional function for external disclosure.

  As described above, even an external application developed by a third party is an application that operates using an internal function (for example, internal function A121, internal function B122,...) Of the MFP as long as it is an application on the MFP. There are many things. As more and more such applications are installed and installed in the MFP, the number of links from functions for external disclosure to internal functions increases cumulatively as shown in the figure. The performance of the application 111, the print application 112, and the like is degraded.

  The copy application 111 and the print application 112 are basic functions of the MFP, and are functions that are most frequently used by the user. In particular, in the case of a multifunction product such as an MFP, the product performance is evaluated by productivity per unit of time (for example, one minute), and thus the performance degradation of the basic functions of the MFP is a serious problem.

  In view of the above problems, the present invention optimizes processing performance by dynamically providing link information to an internal function for an external application that operates using the internal function of the main body. An object is to provide an image forming apparatus, a connection control method, and a program.

In order to achieve the above object, an image forming apparatus according to the present invention includes a plurality of function execution units that are always connected to a first application and execute an image forming function, and the one or more function execution units are provided. be an additional image forming apparatus capable of a second application which is realized by the connection to, an interface means for mediating a connection from the second application to the function executing unit, said interface means, said first When the second application is added, from a plurality of the function executing unit, an analysis unit for the second application to identify and analyze the function executing means for performing the connection, the analysis result by the analyzing means, the every two applications, application connectivity information that associates the function executing unit to which the second application makes a connection And a management unit for managing, when starting the second application, on the basis of the application connection function information, the relative second application, the connection to the second application and the associated said function executing means And connection control means for performing the above.

  In addition, what applied the arbitrary combination of the component of this invention, expression, or a component to a method, an apparatus, a system, a computer program, a recording medium, etc. is also effective as an aspect of this invention.

  According to the present invention, an image forming apparatus that optimizes processing performance by dynamically giving link destination information to an internal function to an external application that operates using the internal function of the main body, a connection control method, and the like A program can be provided.

It is a block diagram of a conventional MFP platform 2 shows an exemplary hardware configuration of an MFP 1 according to the present embodiment. 2 is a configuration diagram of an MFP platform of the MFP 1 according to the present embodiment. FIG. It is a sequence diagram explaining the installation process of an external application. This is a known information example in which a function for external disclosure and an internal function are associated with each other. An example of application connection function information is shown. It is a sequence diagram explaining the information processing accompanying starting of an external application. FIG. 3 is a configuration diagram of the MFP platform 100 of the MFP 1 after the external application 301 is activated. It is a sequence diagram explaining the information processing accompanying execution of an external application.

  The best mode for carrying out the present invention will be described below with reference to the drawings.

[System configuration]
(hardware)
First, a hardware configuration of an MFP (image forming apparatus) according to the present embodiment will be briefly described. FIG. 2 shows an example of the hardware configuration of the MFP 1 according to the present embodiment.

  The MFP 1 according to the present embodiment includes an operation panel 11, a storage medium I / F 12, a controller 13, a data communication I / F 14, a scanner 15, a plotter 16, and an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) 17. Are connected to each other.

  The operation panel 11 includes an input device 11a and a display device 11b. The input device 11a is configured by a hard key or the like, and is used to input each operation signal to the apparatus main body. Further, the display device 11b is configured by a display or the like, and displays, for example, various types of information related to the image forming operation. The data communication I / F 14 includes an interface device 14a, and is an interface that connects the image forming apparatus to a data transmission path such as a network or a fax machine. The HDD 17 stores various data such as received document data and read image data handled by the image forming apparatus, and data used by each application. Further, the HDD 17 manages these various data by a predetermined file system or DB (Data Base).

  Various data stored in the HDD 17 includes data input from the recording medium 12b. The recording medium 12b is set in the drive device 12a included in the storage medium I / F 12, and various data are stored in the HDD 17 from the recording medium 12b via the drive device 12a.

  The controller 13 includes a ROM (Read Only Memory) 13a, a RAM (Random Access Memory) 13b, and a CPU (Central Processing Unit) 13c. The ROM 13a is executed when the image forming apparatus is activated. Stores programs and various data. The RAM 13b temporarily stores various programs and data read from the ROM 13a and the HDD 17. Further, the CPU 13c executes a program temporarily stored in the RAM 13b. For example, when the print data is received via the data communication I / F 14, the controller 13 reads a program (PDL parser) that can read PDL (Page Description Language) read from the ROM 13a onto the RAM 13b by the CPU 13c. Execute and interpret the print data to generate a bitmap image.

  The scanner 15 includes an image reading device 15a, and optically reads a document placed on a reading surface and generates image data. The plotter 16 has a printing device 16a and prints a bitmap image on a recording sheet by, for example, an electrophotographic process method.

  As described above, the MFP according to the present embodiment realizes basic functions related to image formation, such as copying, scanning, printing, and facsimile, with the above hardware configuration.

(Functional configuration)
FIG. 3 is a configuration diagram of the MFP platform of the MFP 1 according to the present embodiment. Compared to FIG. 1 (conventional example), the external platform 200 according to the present embodiment further includes an application analysis unit 205, an application connection function management unit 206, and a connection control unit 207.

  The copy application 111 and the printer application 112 are installed in the MFP 1 from the time of shipment, and are standard applications (groups) for realizing the basic functions inherent in the image forming apparatus. These applications connect to internal functions (internal functions A121 to D124) of an arbitrary main body for each application, and provide each function (service) to the user. The internal functions of the main unit that receives the connection request from the application and the execution request use the hardware resources described above (FIG. 2) to perform functions such as scan, print, and fax that are basic functions of the MFP as software and hardware. Are realized in cooperation (function execution means).

  On the other hand, the external platform 200 provides an external application function (external disclosure function) to an external application in order to enable application development using functions inside the MFP main body. However, since the function for external publication is actually realized by using the internal functions of the MFP 1 as in the case of standard applications such as the copy application 111 and the printer application 112, the external platform 200 is substantially the external application. It can be said that it plays an intermediary role in the connection between and the internal functions inside the main body (interface means).

  The external applications 301, 302, and 303 are software that is developed by a third party such as an external vendor and provides a new function or an extended function that realizes an individual correspondence function (customization function) to the user. The external application is additionally installed after the MFP 1 is shipped from the factory, for example. The MFP 1 according to the present embodiment can execute an external application developed using a dedicated SDK (Software Development Kit) on the MFP via the external platform 200. The external application has software developed using instructions and functions that can be used by the SDK, and the function for external publication of the external platform 200 can receive a processing request from the external application using a predefined function. Interface.

  Now, the installation processing unit 204 performs an installation process for a newly installed external application. At this time, the application analysis unit 205 analyzes and identifies the internal function to which the installed application connects from among the internal functions (internal functions A121 to D124) of the plurality of main bodies. For example, when the external application 301 is installed, the application analysis unit 205 analyzes the external application 301, analyzes which internal function (internal functions A121 to D124) the external application 301 uses, Identify internal functions to use. Since the external application 301 is a copy-type application, in this case, it is analyzed that the application uses the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124.

  The application connection function management unit 206 manages internal functions used by installed external applications as application connection function information. In the case of the external application 301 described above, since it is analyzed that the application uses the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124, the analysis result is stored and managed in the application connection function information. A specific example of the application connection function information will be described later.

  When the application is activated, the connection control unit 207 determines whether the application (for example, the external application 301) is associated with the internal function (for example, the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the like) based on the above-described application connection function information. Connection (link) to the internal function D124) is performed. When the application is terminated, the connected internal function is disconnected. In other words, the connection between the application and the internal function is made when the application is used (activated) and disconnected when the use is completed.

  In the conventional example (FIG. 1), the external application 301, which is a copy application (scan + printer), for example, has a connection with the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124 via a function for external disclosure. On the other hand, in the present embodiment (FIG. 3), there is no connection to the internal function when the application is not arranged (activated). In other words, before the application is started after the application is installed, the external application 301 has a connection to the connection control unit 207 via the function for external disclosure, and the application connection function management unit 206 determines that “the external application 301 operates. Only needs to use internal function A121, internal function B122, and internal function D124 ". Actually, connections from the connection control unit 207 to the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124 are not established.

  As described above, each of these functional units is actually realized by the CPU 13c executing the program. Next, a specific processing operation of the MFP 1 will be described.

[Processing behavior]
(Installation process)
FIG. 4 is a sequence diagram illustrating an external application installation process. Hereinafter, description will be given with reference to the drawings.

  First, when an external application installation operation is performed by the user, the external application 300 (for example, the external applications 301, 302, and 303) makes an installation execution request to the installation processing unit 204 (S401).

  Upon receiving the installation execution request, the installation processing unit 204 issues an analysis request for the external application to the application analysis unit 205 (S402). The application analysis unit 205 performs application analysis (S403). The analysis is a process of analyzing and specifying the internal function to which the installed application connects from the internal functions of the MFP 1 main body. In this case, when the external application 300 is installed, the application analysis unit 205 analyzes the external application 300 and analyzes which internal function (internal functions A121 to D124) the external application 300 uses. Identify internal functions to use.

  The application analysis unit 205 registers the analysis result content in the application connection function management unit 206 as application connection function information (S404). The application connection function information (analysis result content) is, for example, the application name of the external application 300, the internal function name, and the like.

  When the registration is completed, the application connection function management unit 206 returns a registration completion response to the application analysis unit 205 (S405), and the application analysis unit 205 returns an analysis completion response to the installation processing unit 204 (S406). The installation processing unit 204 sends a response indicating that the installation is complete to the external application 300 (S407).

  This is the process until the external application 300 is installed in the MFP 1. Needless to say, the installation processing unit 204 performs installation including not only the above-described application analysis but also all processes necessary for installing the external application 300. The following description will be given assuming that the external applications 301, 302, and 303 have been installed by the above installation process.

(App connection function information)
As described above, the application connection function management unit 206 manages the analysis result contents by the application analysis unit 205 as application connection function information. Here, the application connection function management unit 206 holds, as known information, information on which internal function is used (connected) by each function for external disclosure.

  FIG. 5 is an example of known information in which a function for external disclosure and an internal function are associated with each other. This known information holds information on which internal function each external public function uses (connects). This is because if the function for external disclosure and the internal function are not registered in association with each other, the connection control unit 207 does not know which internal function is connected to the function for external disclosure.

  For example, the function A201 for external disclosure shown in FIG. 3 is an interface that provides a scan function to an external application, and is therefore registered in association with the internal function A121. Similarly, since the function B202 for external disclosure is an interface that provides a print function to an external application, the internal function B122 and the internal function D124 are registered in association with each other. Similarly, since the function C203 for external disclosure is an interface that provides a fax function to an external application, the internal function C123 is associated and registered.

  FIG. 6A shows an example of application connection function information. As a result of analyzing the installed application, it is information on which function for external disclosure the application uses (connects).

  For example, when the external application 301 shown in FIG. 3 is installed, since the external application (copy application) 301 is a copy application, it is analyzed that the application uses the function A201 for external disclosure and the function B202 for external disclosure. And registered as application connection function information. When the external application 302 shown in FIG. 3 is installed, since the external application (scan application) 302 is a scan application, it is analyzed and registered as an application that uses the function A201 for external disclosure. When the external application 303 shown in FIG. 3 is installed, since the external application (scan application) 302 is a fax application, it is analyzed and registered as an application that uses the function C203 for external disclosure.

  FIG. 6B shows a modification of the application connection function information example. That is, if both the known information in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6A are taken into account, the internal function is associated with the application, and which internal function is used by the installed application via the function for external disclosure (connection) Can also be registered as information. However, in the end, the connection control unit 207 refers to both the known information in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 (a) or only FIG. 6 (b) when connecting the external application and the internal function. It is a difference and can be said to be substantially the same.

(Start process)
FIG. 7 is a sequence diagram for explaining information processing accompanying activation of an external application. Hereinafter, description will be given with reference to the drawings. In this example, it is assumed that an external application (copy application) 301 is activated.

  First, when the external application (copy application) 301 is activated (S701), the connection control unit 207 requests the application connection function management unit 206 for application connection function information (S702). At this time, in order to identify the application, the application name (external application (copy application) 301) is passed as a parameter. Then, the application connection function management unit 206 returns application connection function information about the external application (copy application) 301 to the connection control unit 207. In this example, referring to FIG. 6B, “external application 301 → internal function A121, internal function B122, internal function D124” is returned as the application connection function information.

  The connection control unit 207 acquires “external application 301 → internal function A121, internal function B122, internal function D124” as application connection function information and refers to this (S703). In this case, it can be seen that the external application 301 is an application that uses the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124, and therefore the connection control unit 207 determines the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124. Determine that a connection (link) is required.

  The connection control unit 207 performs connection to each of the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124 (S704). FIG. 8 shows the connection status when the above processing is performed.

  FIG. 8 is a configuration diagram of the MFP platform 100 of the MFP 1 after the external application 301 is activated. Compared to FIG. 3, the connection control unit 207 shows that the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124 are connected (linked) as a situation after the external application 301 is activated (see FIG. 3). Thick solid line).

  On the other hand, although the external applications 302 and 303 are installed on the MFP 1, they are not activated and are not connected to the external applications 302 and 303. However, the external application (scan application) 302 is an application that uses the function A201 for external disclosure, and the external application (copy application) 301 that is already activated overlaps the function for external disclosure that is used. Although the external application (scan application) 302 is not activated, a connection from the connection control unit 207 to the internal function (scan) A 121 is established. However, with respect to the external application (fax application) 303, the external application (fax application) 303 is not activated, and therefore the connection control unit 207 is not connected to the internal function (fax) C123. Even if it is clear.

  At the end of the external application 301, the connection control unit 207 disconnects the connection with each of the internal function A121, the internal function B122, and the internal function D124. As described above, since the connection to the internal function is established only while the external application 301 is activated, there is an influence when the copy application 111, the print application 112, and the like, which are original MFP original applications, use the internal function. Less is required, that is, the performance to the original basic function of the MFP 1 can be maintained.

(Execution process)
FIG. 9 is a sequence diagram illustrating information processing accompanying execution of an external application. In the description so far, the process up to the installation and activation of the external application (copy application) 301 has been described. In this sequence, the external application (copy application) 301 is already activated, and the external application 301 is actually executed on the MFP 1.

When executing the application, the external application 301 requests the external disclosure function A201 to execute the scan when executing the scan function. Similarly, when executing the print function, the external public function B202 is requested to execute the print.
This is because the function for external disclosure is merely an interface, and the internal function is actually responsible for processing on the MFP 1. However, from the external application 301, the function for external disclosure appears as a function unit that provides various functions on the MFP 1. .

  Then, the scan or print execution request is transmitted from the function external disclosure function A 201 or the external disclosure function B 202 to the internal function A 121, the internal function B 122, or the internal function D 124 via the connection control unit 207, and the execution of the scan or print is performed. Will be made.

  As is generally known, since it is necessary to perform print processing after first analyzing print data as is generally known, the function B202 for external disclosure in the figure includes an internal function B122 and an internal function. A function execution request is made to D124.

(Summary)
The MFP 1 according to the present embodiment is an image forming apparatus that includes a plurality of function execution units that execute an image forming function, and that can add an application realized by connecting to one or more of the function execution units. Interface means for mediating connection from the application to the function execution means is provided. The interface unit analyzes the function execution unit to which the application connects from among the plurality of function execution units, and the analysis result is associated with the application execution unit that associates the function execution unit to which the application connects for each application. Managed as function information, and when the application is activated, based on the application connection function information, the application is connected to the function execution means associated with the application.

  Thereby, the connection to the function execution means is established only while the application is activated in this way. As more external applications are gradually installed and installed in the MFP 1, the performance of the original basic functions of the MFP may eventually be degraded. However, according to the MFP 1 according to the present embodiment, the copy application 111 that is an original standard application of the MFP. When the print application 112 uses the internal function, the influence is small. That is, the performance to the original basic function of the MFP 1 can be maintained.

  In other words, according to the present embodiment, an image forming apparatus or the like that optimizes processing performance by dynamically giving link destination information to an internal function to an external application that operates using the internal function of the main body. It becomes possible to provide.

  Although the present invention has been described based on each embodiment, the present invention is not limited to the requirements shown here, such as combinations with other elements listed in the above embodiments. With respect to these points, the present invention can be changed within a range that does not detract from the gist of the present invention, and can be appropriately determined according to the application form. Moreover, what applied the component, expression, or arbitrary combinations of the component of this invention to a method, an apparatus, a system, a computer program, a recording medium, etc. is also effective as an aspect of this invention.

1 MFP
11 Operation unit (operation panel)
11a Input device 11b Display device 12 Storage media I / F
12a Drive device 12b Recording medium 13 Controller (part)
13a ROM
13b RAM
13c CPU
14 Data communication I / F
14a Interface device 15 Scanner 15a Image reading device 16 Plotter 16a Printing device 17 HDD
100 MFP platform 111 Copy application 112 Printer application 121 Internal function A
122 Internal function B
123 Internal function C
124 Internal function D
200 Platform for external disclosure 201 Function A for external disclosure
202 Function B for external disclosure
203 Function C for external disclosure
204 Installation Processing Unit 205 Application Analysis Unit 206 Application Connection Function Management Unit 207 Connection Control Unit

JP 2005-269619 A

Claims (5)

  1. An image forming apparatus that includes a plurality of function execution units that are always connected to the first application and execute an image forming function, and that can add a second application realized by connection to one or more of the function execution units. Because
    Interface means for mediating connection from the second application to the function execution means;
    The interface means includes
    When the second application is added, an analysis unit that analyzes and identifies the function execution unit to which the second application connects from among the plurality of function execution units;
    The results of analysis by said analyzing means, and a second for each application, management unit to which the second application is managed as application connectivity information that associates the function executing means for performing the connection,
    When the second application starts, on the basis of the application connection function information, with respect to the second application, and connection control means for connection to the second application and the associated said function executing means;
    An image forming apparatus comprising:
  2. The connection control means disconnects the connection to the function execution means associated with the second application when the second application ends.
    The image forming apparatus according to claim 1.
  3. An image forming apparatus that includes a plurality of function execution units that are always connected to the first application and execute an image forming function, and that can add a second application realized by connection to one or more of the function execution units. A connection control method in
    The image forming apparatus includes an interface unit that mediates a connection from the second application to the function execution unit,
    The interface means includes
    When the second application is added, an analysis procedure for analyzing and specifying the function execution unit to which the second application connects from among the plurality of function execution units;
    The analysis result by the analyzing procedure, every second application, and a management order of the second application is managed as application connectivity information that associates the function executing means for performing the connection,
    When the second application starts, on the basis of the application connection function information, with respect to the second application, a connection control procedure for connection to the second application and the associated said function executing means;
    A connection control method characterized by comprising:
  4. The connection control procedure includes disconnecting the connection to the function execution unit associated with the second application when the second application ends.
    The connection control method according to claim 3.
  5.   A program for causing a computer to execute the connection control method according to claim 3 or 4.
JP2010154248A 2010-07-06 2010-07-06 Image forming apparatus, connection control method, and program Active JP5663983B2 (en)

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