US20120092720A1 - Dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment - Google Patents

Dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120092720A1
US20120092720A1 US13276037 US201113276037A US2012092720A1 US 20120092720 A1 US20120092720 A1 US 20120092720A1 US 13276037 US13276037 US 13276037 US 201113276037 A US201113276037 A US 201113276037A US 2012092720 A1 US2012092720 A1 US 2012092720A1
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print
job
data
server
destination
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Abandoned
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US13276037
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Joe Jaudon
David Lowrey
Adam Williams
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Aventura HQ Inc
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Aventura HQ Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • G06F3/1201Dedicated interfaces to print systems
    • G06F3/1202Dedicated interfaces to print systems specifically adapted to achieve a particular effect
    • G06F3/1203Improving or facilitating administration, e.g. print management
    • G06F3/1204Improving or facilitating administration, e.g. print management resulting in reduced user or operator actions, e.g. presetting, automatic actions, using hardware token storing data
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • G06F3/1201Dedicated interfaces to print systems
    • G06F3/1202Dedicated interfaces to print systems specifically adapted to achieve a particular effect
    • G06F3/1218Reducing or saving of used resources, e.g. avoiding waste of consumables or improving usage of hardware resources
    • G06F3/122Reducing or saving of used resources, e.g. avoiding waste of consumables or improving usage of hardware resources with regard to computing resources, e.g. memory, CPU
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • G06F3/1201Dedicated interfaces to print systems
    • G06F3/1223Dedicated interfaces to print systems specifically adapted to use a particular technique
    • G06F3/1224Client or server resources management
    • G06F3/1225Software update, e.g. print driver, modules, plug-ins, fonts
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • G06F3/1201Dedicated interfaces to print systems
    • G06F3/1223Dedicated interfaces to print systems specifically adapted to use a particular technique
    • G06F3/1237Print job management
    • G06F3/126Job scheduling, e.g. queuing, determine appropriate device
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/12Digital output to print unit, e.g. line printer, chain printer
    • G06F3/1201Dedicated interfaces to print systems
    • G06F3/1278Dedicated interfaces to print systems specifically adapted to adopt a particular infrastructure
    • G06F3/1285Remote printer device, e.g. being remote from client or server
    • G06F3/1288Remote printer device, e.g. being remote from client or server in client-server-printer device configuration

Abstract

Methods, systems, and devices are described for dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. A data store may include a set of rules for dynamically determining an identified print job destination based on at least one characteristic of a print job generated by a print job source. A rules engine may be configured to receive a notification of the print job, identify the characteristic of the print job from the received notification, and apply the set of rules in the data store to the identified characteristic of the print job to dynamically determine an updated print job destination for the print job. The updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCES
  • [0001]
    The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/394,264, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all it discloses.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Embodiments of the invention relate to computer network communication, and more particularly, printing in a dynamic roaming environment. Organizations often use a variety of computing devices. Various computer systems may use a thin-client or a virtual desktop display in conjunction with a centralized server or mainframe, and also use traditional workstations and handheld devices.
  • [0003]
    A thin-client may be a computing device that includes hardware, software, or both in a client-server architecture network. However, such a network may use a central server for processing and may transmit and receive input and output over a network or other communication medium established between the device and the remote server. In some examples, a thin-client device may run web browsers or remote desktop software, such that significant processing may occur on the server.
  • [0004]
    Printing in such environments may present a number of significant challenges. Traditionally, print drivers are stored and maintained on each device, and this can cause administrative overhead and maintenance issues. The problem may be exacerbated with mobile thin-clients and other mobile devices, as the number of drivers that may need to be stored can increase substantially as more printers become available.
  • [0005]
    There are also challenges related to selecting the right printer and print server in a dynamic environment. For example, with a mobile device or a roaming user, it may be a challenge to identify the appropriate printers because of the legacy architecture for printing networks. Also, because of the traditional ways printer networks communicate, feedback for print jobs and identifying available printers can present challenges, as well. Thus, there may be a need in the art for novel system architectures to address one or more of these issues.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0006]
    Methods, systems, and devices are described for dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment.
  • [0007]
    In one set of embodiments, a distributed printing system includes a print job source that generates a print job, multiple printers, a data store, and a rules engine. The data store includes a set of rules for dynamically determining an updated print job destination for the print job based on at least one characteristic of the print job. The rules engine receives a notification of the print job, identifies the at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification, and applies the set of rules in the data store to the identified characteristic(s) of the print job to dynamically determine an updated print job destination for the print job. The updated print job destination is associated with at least one of the printers.
  • [0008]
    In another set of embodiments, a method of dynamic print routing in a distributed printing environment includes receiving a notification of a print job from a print job source, identifying at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification; and dynamically determining an updated print job destination for the print job based on the at least one characteristic of the print data. The updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer.
  • [0009]
    In another set of embodiments, a rules engine apparatus includes a receiving module, an identification module, and a destination updating module. The receiving module receives a notification of a print job from a print job source. The identification module identifies at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification of the print job. The destination updating module dynamically determines an updated print job destination for the print job based on the at least one characteristic of the print job. The updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0010]
    A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the following drawings. In the appended figures, similar components or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a dash and a second label that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a central server computer system in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a data store in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a backend in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating a logical path taken by print data in a system for distributed printing in a dynamic roaming and traditional static environments, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating an example of a system for dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0017]
    FIGS. 7A, 7B, and 7C are diagrams illustrating tables which may be stored in a centralized data store of distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0018]
    FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C are diagrams illustrating tables which may be stored in a centralized data store of distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 9 is a block diagram illustrating an example of a rules engine in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 10 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 11 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 12 is a flowchart diagram illustrating an example of a method of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram that illustrates a representative device structure that may be used in various embodiments of the present invention
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0024]
    The present description sets forth examples of systems, methods, and devices for dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. In these systems, methods, and devices, a set of rules is stored in a data store for dynamically determining an updated print job destination for a print job based on at least one characteristic of the print job. A rules engine receives a notification of the print job, identifies the characteristic(s) of the print job from the received notification, and applies the set of rules in the data store to the identified characteristic(s) of the print job to dynamically determine the updated print job destination for the print job. The print job destination is associated with a printer.
  • [0025]
    This description provides examples, and is not intended to limit the scope, applicability or configuration of the invention. Rather, the ensuing description will provide those skilled in the art with an enabling description for implementing embodiments of the invention. Various changes may be made in the function and arrangement of elements.
  • [0026]
    Thus, various embodiments may omit, substitute, or add various procedures or components as appropriate. For instance, it should be appreciated that the methods may be performed in an order different than that described, and that various steps may be added, omitted or combined. Also, aspects and elements described with respect to certain embodiments may be combined in various other embodiments. It should also be appreciated that the following systems, methods, devices, and software may individually or collectively be components of a larger system, wherein other procedures may take precedence over or otherwise modify their application.
  • [0027]
    Systems, devices, methods, and software are described for dynamic print job routing within a distributed printing environment. In one set of embodiments, shown in FIG. 1, system 100 includes a central server computer system 105, a data store 110, print servers 145, and printers 150. Each of these components may be in communication with each other, directly or indirectly.
  • [0028]
    The central server computer system 105 may include a rules engine 130, a session manager 135, and a print router 140. The central server computer system 105 may be made up of one or more server computers, workstations, web servers, or other suitable computing devices. The central server computer system 105 may be fully located within a single facility or distributed geographically, in which case a network may be used to integrate different components.
  • [0029]
    The central server computer system 105 may receive a print job. The print job may be received from a windows session 125. Alternatively, the print job may be received from an application session 115 via a backend 120. The print job may also or alternatively be received from an application session 115 via a cloud computing environment (not specifically shown). The print job may be received from thin-clients (e.g., SUN RAY clients available from Oracle Corporation, WYSE clients available from Wyse Technology, etc.), thick clients (e.g., desktops, laptops), mobile devices, tablets, etc., although these devices are not specifically shown in the diagram Moreover, the print job may be received from any type of desktop or virtual desktop environment. Examples of suitable desktop environments from which the print job may be received include, but are not limited to, LINUX environments based on the open-source Linux kernel; WINDOWS environments based on software available from Microsoft, Inc.; OS/X environments based on software available from Apple, Inc.; VMWARE virtual environments based on software available from VMware, Inc.; CITRIX virtual environments based on software available from Citrix Systems, Inc.; Windows Terminal Services/Remote Desktop virtual environments based on software available from Microsoft, Inc.; ANDROID environments based on software available from Google, Inc.; IOS environments based on software available from Apple, Inc.; WEBOS environments based on software available from Hewlett Packard Company; combinations thereof; and the like. In some embodiments, the central server computer system 105 may receive notice or identification for a print job, and perform the functionality described herein based on such notice or identification only.
  • [0030]
    A set of drivers may be stored at data store 110. Data store 110 may be a single database, or may be made up of any number of separate and distinct databases. The data store 110 may include one, or more, relational databases or components of relational databases (e.g., tables), object databases, or components of object databases, spreadsheets, text files, internal software lists, or any other type of data structure suitable for storing data. Thus, it should be appreciated that a data store 110 may each be multiple data storages (of the same or different type), or may share a common data storage with other data stores. Although in some embodiments the data store 110 may be distinct from a central server computer system 105, in other embodiments it may be integrated therein to varying degrees.
  • [0031]
    As noted above, notification of a requested print job may be received at the central server computer system 105. A session manager 135 may receive the notification, and may assign a terminal identifier (TID) to a device requesting the job. The central server computer system 105 may identify information about the print job (e.g., identification and location of the applicable print server 145 and printer 150, and identification of the proper driver). Drivers for the print job may be transmitted to the appropriate print server 145 and to the client device requesting the job. The drivers may be installed, and the device and print server 145 may execute the print job with the installed drivers. Thus, the central server computer system 105 may access the data store 110 to distribute drivers to the print server 145 or the device, and thus in some embodiments the drivers do not need to be maintained on each device or print server 145. The drivers may be taken down or uninstalled after each job, set of jobs, or period with no use.
  • [0032]
    In some embodiments, the central server computer system 105 may use the information about a print job to identify an appropriate operating system (OS) and print driver for the print server for a given print job. The central server computer system 105 may access the data store 110 to retrieve the OS and print driver, and load an OS in real-time in response to receiving a print job. The central server computer system 105 may install the appropriate driver, thus creating a virtual print server (which may, but need not be, print server 145). The virtual print server executes the print job. After the print job is complete, the driver and OS may be taken down. In alternative embodiments, print servers may not be dynamically generated in response to individual print jobs or at all. For example, the central server computer system 105 may distribute incoming print jobs among a fixed set of physical or virtual print servers 145.
  • [0033]
    In some embodiments, a printer 150 is selected (e.g., automatically or by a user). The print router 140 at the central server computer system 105 may receive the selection. At the print router 140, the selected printer may be mapped to a 1) driver of a table of drivers, and 2) a print server 145 of a table of print servers. A rules engine 130 at the central server computer system 105 may be used in the selection of the printer. The rules engine 130 may be configured to dynamically map a print job to a print server 145 and printer 150 for the print job. By way of example, upon notification or receipt of the print job, the rules engine 130 may access a set of rules to determine the correct print server 145 and printer 150 for the print job. The rules may dynamically make this determination based on the location of the device. The type of device, attributes of the print job, and other factors may be used by the rules engine 130 to determine the correct type and location for the print server 145 and printer 150.
  • [0034]
    It should be understood that the print servers 145 may be any real or virtual machine or environment that hosts a print driver for controlling a printer 150. Thus, in certain examples a print server 145 may be implemented by circuitry, logic, and/or software within the printer 150. Additionally or alternatively, a print server 145 may include a real or virtual network server and/or a personal computing device in communication with a printer 150.
  • [0035]
    In some embodiments, feedback from a printer 150 is received at the print server 145, and then forwarded on to a print router 140. The print router 140 may route the feedback (e.g., job failed, out of ink, out of paper, etc.) to the client device. This report may be in the form of a dialogue box. The feedback may be routed to avoid the backend 120, even when the print job is initially routed through the backend 120. In response to feedback from a print router 140, a client device may direct or route a print job. This routing may be to a new printer, or may call up alternative functionality (e.g., a new tray) for a printer that is already in use. Thus, instead of unidirectional printing, print jobs (e.g., sent through a backend 120) may be controlled by two-way communication between the print router 140 and the device.
  • [0036]
    The components of the system 100 may be directly connected, or may be connected via a network (not shown), which may be any combination of the following: the Internet, an IP network, an intranet, a wide-area network (“WAN”), a local-area network (“LAN”), a virtual private network, the Public Switched Telephone Network (“PSTN”), or any other type of network supporting data communication between devices described herein, in different embodiments. A network may include both wired and wireless connections, including optical links. Many other examples are possible and apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure. In the discussion herein, a network may or may not be noted specifically. If no specific means of connection is noted, it may be assumed that the link, communication, or other connection between devices may be via a network.
  • [0037]
    Session manager 135 may include an API architecture which serves as the communication control point, managing virtual desktop sessions and brokering sessions for clients to backend 120 virtual desktop and application sessions. The session manager 135 may broker and pass through mechanisms for client devices to active virtual sessions. The central server computer system 105 may include a centralized management console (not shown), which may be a web-based management console for configuration, real time monitoring, and reporting. There may be management capabilities for the entire virtual desktop/application environment.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a central server computer system 105-a. The central server computer system 105-a may be one example of the central server computer system 105 in FIG. 1. The central server computer system 105-a shown in FIG. 2 includes a rules engine 130, a session manager 135, a print router 140-a, and a print server manager 205. The rules engine 130 and the session manager 135 shown in FIG. 2 may be substantially the same as the rules engine 130 and the session manager 135 shown in FIG. 1. The print router 140-a may be one example of the print router 140 shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0039]
    The print router 140-a may match print jobs received from external sessions 115, 125 to one or more destination printers 150 and/or print servers 145. To accomplish these tasks, the print router 140-a may include at least a print data receiving module 210, a print source identification module 215, a print parameters identification module 220, a printer destination identification module 225, and a printer feedback routing module 230.
  • [0040]
    The print data receiving module 210 may be configured to receive print data corresponding to a print job from an external session 115, 125 via a communication channel established by the session manager 135. In certain embodiments, the print data received from the external session 115, 125 may be in the form of one or more page description languages (PDLs). Examples of page description languages that may be received at the receiving module 210 include, but are not limited to, PostScript, Portable Document Format (PDF), Printer Command Language (PCL), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Open XML Paper Specification (XPS), and any other page description language that may suit a particular implementation of the principles described herein.
  • [0041]
    In other embodiments, the print data received from the external session 115, 125 may be in the form of text or images for use with a standard template stored by a print server 145 or a printer 150. For example, the print data may be used to print a personalized bracelet worn by a patient in a medical facility. In this example, the print data may include text corresponding to the name of the patient, and the name of the patient's doctor. This text, when received by a print server 145 or a printer 150, may be applied to a standard bracelet template to print a bracelet having the name of the patient and the name of the patient's doctor.
  • [0042]
    In additional or alternative embodiments, the print data received by the print data receiving module 210 may be in the form of an image that has already been rasterized by the external session 115, 125 in preparation for delivery to a printer 150.
  • [0043]
    The print data receiving module 210 may be configured to cache the received print data at a designated storage area. In certain examples, the designated storage area may be in a data store 110. The cached print data may be accessible to the rules engine 130 or any other module or process.
  • [0044]
    The print source identification module 215 may be configured to analyze the received print data to determine certain attributes or characteristics of the received print data. These attributes or characteristics may also be stored for use by the other modules or processes. For example, the print source identification module 215 may associate the received print data with a format in the data store 110. This format information may be available to the rules engine 130 for use in enforcing one or more rule sets.
  • [0045]
    In certain examples, the print source identification module 215 may analyze the print data received by the print data receiving module 210 to determine a source of the print data. By way of example, the source may be determined using information from the session manager 135, information acquired by the print data receiving module 210, and/or information attached to the print data itself by the source. Once the print source has been identified, the identity of the print source may be associated with the received print data. For example, the identity of the print source may be stored in the data store 110.
  • [0046]
    The print parameters identification module 220 may identify certain print parameters for the received print data. These print parameters may be included with the received print data and/or determined by logical deduction (e.g., using the rules engine 130). For instance, a user of an external session 115, 125 may specify a particular print parameter which may be transmitted to the central server computer system 105-a with the print data or logically deduced from the received print data. Additionally or alternatively, certain default print parameters may be determined for the print data based on the identity of the source of the print data and/or another attribute associated with the print data.
  • [0047]
    Examples of print parameters that may be identified by the print parameters identification module 220 include, but are not limited to, a selected type of printing media, a selected size of printing media, a selected source of printing media, an ink or toner color setting, a collation setting, a staple setting, a duplex setting, a scaling setting, combinations thereof, and the like.
  • [0048]
    The printer destination identification module 225 may be configured to identify an appropriate destination printer 150 and/or print server 145 for print data received at the print data receiving module 210. The printer destination identification module 225 may identify the appropriate destination printer 150 based on one or more attributes of the print data. In certain examples, the printer destination identification module 225 may pass certain attributes of the print data (e.g., the identity and/or location of the source of the print data determined by the print source identification module 215, the print parameters determined by the print parameters identification module 220, etc.) to the rules engine 130.
  • [0049]
    The rules engine 130 may apply a certain set of predetermined or dynamically updated rules to the input it receives from the printer destination identification module 225 to determine the destination printer 150 and/or print server 145 for the print data. The destination printer 150 and/or print server 145 determined by the rules engine 130 may then be returned to the printer destination identification module 225.
  • [0050]
    Once the destination printer 150 and/or print server 145 has been identified for the print data, the print data forwarding module 230 may be configured to forward the print data on to the identified printer 150 and/or print server 145. The print data may be forwarded over a local connection and/or over a network or logical connection. Additionally, in certain examples, the print data forwarding module 230 may be configured to receive feedback from a printer 150 and/or a print server 145 about a specific print job and process the feedback and/or forward the feedback to a third party, such as the source of that particular print job.
  • [0051]
    The print server manager 205 of the central server computer system 105-a may handle certain aspects related to the distribution of drivers for printers to the print servers 145 and the general maintenance of the print servers 145. Accordingly, the print server manager 205 may include a driver identification module 235, a driver deployment module 240, an operating system identification module 245, and a print server instantiation module 250.
  • [0052]
    The driver identification module 235 may, in response to a set of print data being assigned to a particular printer 150, determine an appropriate driver for that printer 150. As described above with regard to FIG. 1, the appropriate driver may be selected from a central repository of drivers stored, for example, at data store 110. The driver identification module 235 may be further configured to determine whether an appropriate driver for the selected printer 150 is already installed on a print server 145 chosen to send the print data to the selected printer 150. In certain examples, the driver identification module 235 may compare a version of the driver stored by the chosen print server 145 with a version of the driver stored at the central repository to determine whether the driver stored by the chosen print server 145 is current.
  • [0053]
    In the event that a determination is made that the chosen print server 145 does not have the appropriate driver or a correct version of the appropriate driver, the driver deployment module 240 may install the appropriate driver on the print server 145. In certain examples, the driver deployment module 240 may access and write to storage associated with the print server 145 via a local connection, network connection, and/or a logical connection to install the appropriate driver to the print server 145.
  • [0054]
    The operating system identification module 245 may be configured to identify an appropriate operating system associated with an appropriate driver for the selected printer 150. In the event that a print server 145 running the appropriate operating system and in communication with the selected printer 150 does not exist or is unavailable, the print server instantiation module 250 may instantiate a new print server 145. The newly instantiated print server 145 may be created on a dedicated or virtual machine by loading the appropriate operating system to the dedicated or virtual machine. In certain examples, an operating system image having the appropriate driver preinstalled may be used to instantiate the new print server 145.
  • [0055]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of one example of a data store 110-a that may be associated with a central server computer system 105. The data store 110-a shown in FIG. 3 may be an example of data store 110 shown in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 3, data store 110-a may store drivers 305, libraries 310, device configurations 315, tables 320, rules 325, and operating system images 330.
  • [0056]
    Data store 110-a may maintain a repository of drivers 305 for various printers 150 supported by a distributed printing system 100. In accordance with the description of FIGS. 1-2, as a print job is received at the central server computer system 105, the central server computer system 105 may associate the print job with a specific printer 150, dynamically access the data store 110 to retrieve a driver 305 appropriate for the specific printer, and provide the retrieved driver 305 to a print server 145 associated with the specific printer.
  • [0057]
    Because the drivers 305 are stored centrally at data store 110-a, individual machines implementing sessions 115, 125 and individual print servers 145 need not store a local print driver for each printer supported by the system 100. Moreover, as updated versions of drivers 305 become available, a network administrator may make the updated versions available to each print server 145 in the system by simply updating the repository of drivers 305 stored at the data store 110-a, thereby avoiding the need to roll out driver updates to each print server 145 separately.
  • [0058]
    The data store 110-a may also store software libraries 310. For example, the data store 110-a may store libraries 310 associated with the drivers 305. In certain embodiments, the libraries 310 may include Dynamic-Link Library (DLL) or Dynamic Shared Object (DSO) files that allow the print servers 145 to dynamically communicate with the sessions 115, 125 which generate the print jobs sent to printers 150. Thus, where the central server computer system 105 provides a driver 305 to a print server 145 for a specific printer 150, the central server computer system 105 may include with the driver 305 one or more DLL files for that printer 150. The DLL(s) files may allow the print server 145 to provide feedback to a session 125 from which a print job originates in a way that is understandable to the session 125. For instance, if a user of the session 125 generates the print job using a print Graphical User Interface (GUI), the DLL transmitted to the print server 145 may allow the print server 145 to provide feedback to the user of the session 125 through the print GUI.
  • [0059]
    By way of example and not limitation, consider the case where a print job generated by a session 125 has been sent to a print server 145 for printing by a specific printer 150, and that the printer 150 is out of paper. The printer 150 may send a feedback message to the print server 145 indicating that the printer 150 is out of paper, and the print server 145 may provide this feedback message to a print dialog window in the session 125 using a DLL received from the central server computer system 105. This process may allow for a more seamless printing experience for a user of session 125, despite the fact that the session 125 may not locally store a print driver or DLL for communicating with the printer 150.
  • [0060]
    In certain examples, the data store 110-a may also store device configurations 315, such as settings configurations for printers 150. Thus, when the central server computer system 105 transmits a print job to a print server 145 associated with a specific printer 150, the central server computer system 105 may also include in the transmission a configuration 315 retrieved from the data store 110-a for that printer 150. The configuration 315 may specify, for example, settings such as printer margin settings, duplex settings, paper tray settings, ink color settings, collation settings, and the like. The configuration 315 transmitted to the print server 145 by the central server computer system 105 may be specific to the printer 150, the session 115, 125 generating the print job, and/or the character or content of the print job itself.
  • [0061]
    Additionally, the data store 110-a may store and maintain various tables 320. The tables 320 may reflect certain relationships present in the system 100. For example, the tables 320 may include one or more tables 320 associating specific sessions 115, 125 with terminal identifiers or node identifiers, one or more tables 320 associating specific sessions 115, 125 with physical locations, one or more tables 320 associating specific printers 150 or print servers 145 with physical locations, one or more tables 320 associating specific sessions 115, 125 with default printers 150, and/or one or more tables 320 tracking any other association in the system 100 that may suit a particular implementation of the principles described herein.
  • [0062]
    In certain examples, two or more of the tables 320 stored by the data store 110-a may be interrelated in such a way that allows for logical deductions in routing print jobs to print servers 145 or other useful purposes. For instance, the data store 110-a may include: a) a first table 320 associating each terminal identifier at a port with a particular session 115, 125 at a specific physical location; and b) a second table 320 associating each physical location for a session 115, 125 with a default printer 150. In this case, the information in the first table 320 and the second table 320 may be used by the central server computer system 105 to associate a print job received at a port with a specific default printer 150.
  • [0063]
    The data store 110-a may also include one or more rules 325 for use by the central server computer system 105 in routing received print jobs to print servers 145 and printers 150. As noted above in the description of FIGS. 1-2, the rules engine 130 of the central server computer system 105 may be configured to dynamically map a print job to a print server 145 and printer 150 for the print job by accessing the set of rules 325 stored in the data store 110-a. The rules 325 may take into account factors such as the location of the device generating the print job, the type of device generating the print job, attributes of the print job, and other factors. Some of these factors may be stored in the tables 320.
  • [0064]
    Additionally, the data store 110-a may include one or more operating system images 330. The operating system images 330 may be used, for example, in the dynamic creation of print servers 145. As described above, certain drivers 305 may not be compatible with the standard operating systems executed by typical print servers 145 in the system 100. Accordingly, when a print job is indicated for a printer 150 using one of these drivers 305, the central server computer system 105 may retrieve a compatible operating system image 330 from the data store 110-a and instantiate a new print server 145 by loading the operating system image 330 onto a real or virtual machine. The newly instantiated print server 145 may then receive the print job from the central server computer system 105 and control the indicated printer 150 using the appropriate driver 305 to complete the print job.
  • [0065]
    Turning now to FIG. 4, a block diagram is shown of an illustrative backend 120-a for use in a distributed printing system 100. The backend 120-a shown in FIG. 3 may be an example of the backend 120 shown in FIG. 1. The backend 120-a may be configured to forward print data 405 to a next destination in the printing pipeline, such as a central server computer system 105, a print server 145, or a printer 150, as described in more detail below. To accomplish this functionality, the backend 120 may include a receiving module 410 to receive the print data 405 from an application session 115, a backend routing module 415 for determining the next destination of the print data 405, and a transmission module 425 to transmit the print data 405 to the determined next destination. In some examples, the backend 120-a may also include a rasterization module 420 for rasterizing the print data 405 prior to transmitting the print data 405 to the central server computer system 105.
  • [0066]
    The receiving module 410 of the backend 120-a may be configured to receive the print data 405 over a channel of communication with the application session 115. In some examples, the channel of communication may include one or more local connections (e.g., serial ports, parallel ports, etc.) between the backend 120-a and a device implementing the application session 115. Additionally or alternatively, the channel of communication may include one or more network connections (e.g., Ethernet, WiFi, etc.) and/or logical connections (e.g., where the receiving module 410 of the backend 120-a and the application session 115 are implemented by the same physical machine).
  • [0067]
    In addition to receiving the print data 405, the receiving module 410 may also identify the application session 115 providing the print data 405. For example, the receiving module 410 may monitor a number of ports associated with various application sessions 115. Each of the application sessions 115 may be assigned a terminal identifier or a node identifier. Thus, when print data 405 is received, the receiving module 410 may take note of the terminal identifier, the node identifier, and/or the port on which the print data is received to associate the print data 405 with a known application session.
  • [0068]
    The backend routing module 415 may determine the next destination of the print data 405 based on the application session 115 from which the print data 405 was received. To this end, the destination identification module 415 may maintain a table associating specific application sessions 115 with specific destinations. In certain examples, such as in the system 100 of FIG. 1, all print data 405 received at the backend 120-a, regardless of source, may be transmitted by the backend 120-a to a single central server computer system 105.
  • [0069]
    In alternative examples, the backend 120-a may be communicatively coupled to a number of separate central server computer systems 105 such that print data 405 from different application sessions 115 is transmitted by the backend to different central server computer systems 105. In additional or alternative examples, the backend 120-a may be communicatively coupled to one or more central server computer systems 105 in addition to one or more print servers 145 such that print data 405 from some application sessions 115 is transmitted to a central server computer system 105 and print data 405 from other application sessions 115 is transmitted directly to a print server 145. In these examples, the backend routing module 415 may determine the next destination of each instance of print data 405 based on the application session 115 from which the print data 405 was received.
  • [0070]
    In certain examples, the backend routing module 415 may further include logic for dynamically determining in real-time how a print job is to be routed. For example, based on certain characteristics of the print data 405, the backend routing module 415 may determine that it would be more appropriate to forward the print data 405 to a central server computer system 105 than to a print server 145 or printer 150. Additionally or alternatively, in examples where the backend 120-a is communicatively coupled to multiple alternative central server computer systems 105, the backend routing module 415 may perform load balancing in its distribution of different print jobs between the separate central server computer systems 105.
  • [0071]
    As mentioned above, in certain embodiments the backend 120-a may include a rasterization module 420. The rasterization module 420 may convert the received print data 405 into a raster image that can be understood by a printer. In other embodiments, the print data 405 may already have been rasterized by the application session 115 from which the print data 405 was received. In still other embodiments, the print data 405 may be rasterized at a print server 145 prior to printing.
  • [0072]
    The transmission module 425 of the backend 120-a may transmit the received print data 405 to the destination determined by the next destination identification module 415. This transmission may occur over one or more local connections (e.g., serial ports, parallel ports), one or more network connections (e.g., Ethernet, WiFi), and/or one or more logical connections (e.g., where the backend 120 and the next destination are implemented by the same physical machine).
  • [0073]
    FIG. 5 illustrates a diagram of one illustrative path 500 of print data 405 through a distributed printing system. The print data 405 may first be generated and transmitted to a central server computer system 105-b by a session 125. The central server computer system 105-b may be an example of the central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or FIG. 2. The session 125 may include an application executed by a host device. In certain examples, a user of the application issues a command to print data generated or hosted by the application.
  • [0074]
    In certain embodiments, the session 125 may transmit the print data 405 directly to the central sever computer system 105-b. Alternatively, the session 125 may utilize a backend 120 to transmit the print data 405 to the central server computer system 105. The central server computer system 105-b may perform session identification 510 to determine the source of the print data 405. For example, the central server computer system 105-b may look up a terminal identifier and/or a port associated with the print data 405 in a table to identify a device from which the print data 405 originated.
  • [0075]
    Once the source of the print data 405 is known, the central server computer system 105-b may perform print routing 515 on the print data 405 to select an appropriate printer 150-a for the print data 405. The printer 150-a may be an example of one of the printers 150 shown in FIG. 1. The print routing 515 may include applying a set of rules to one or more parameters associated with the print data 405 and/or the identified session 125. Additionally, the central server computer system 105-b may retrieve 520 an appropriate driver 305-a for the identified printer 150-a from a data store 110. The driver 305-a may be transmitted, together with the print data 405, from the central server computer system 105-b to a print server 145-a associated with the identified printer 150-a. The print server 145-a may be an example of the print server 145 shown in FIG. 1. In certain examples, as described above, the print server 145-a may be dynamically instantiated in response to a particular printer 150-a being selected for the print data 405.
  • [0076]
    The print server 145-a may install 530 the driver 305-a received from the central server computer system 105-b to enable the print server 145-a to communicate with the selected printer 150-a. Additionally, the print server may perform spooling 535 operations to receive and collect the print data 405, scheduling 540 operations to schedule the print data 405 for printing by the printer 150-a, and one or more conversion 545 operations to transform the print data into a format understood by the printer 150-a. In certain examples, the conversion 545 operations may include rasterization of the print data 405. The print server 145-a may then transmit the print data 405 to the selected printer 150-a over a local connection, a network connection, and/or a logical connection for printing.
  • [0077]
    It is worth noting that while an entire distributed printing system 100 has been described as a whole for the sake of context, the present specification is directed to methods, systems, and apparatus that may be used with, but are not tied to the system 100 of FIGS. 1-5. Individual aspects of the present specification may be broken out and used exclusive of other aspects of the foregoing description. This will be described in more detail, below.
  • [0078]
    In one set of embodiments, systems, devices, methods, and software are described for rules-based routing. A rules engine may be configured to dynamically map a print job to a destination, such as a print server or a printer. Upon notification or receipt of the print job, the rules engine may access a set of rules to determine the correct printer and/or print server for the print job based on at least one characteristic of the print job. In certain examples, the rules engine may make this determination based on the location of the print job source. The type of print source, attributes of the print job, and other factors may also be used by the rules engine to determine the correct print server and/or printer for the print job.
  • [0079]
    FIG. 6 illustrates an example of a system 600 using a rules engine 130-a for dynamically routing print jobs in a distributed printing environment, according to various embodiments of the invention. The system 600 includes a print job source 605, a rules engine 130-a, a print router 140-c, and print job destinations 610. Each of these components may be in communication with each other, directly or indirectly. This system 600 may be an example of the systems 100 or 500 described with reference to FIG. 1, or 5, and the rules engine 130-a and print router 140-c may be a part of the central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or 2. The print job source 605 may be an example of the user sessions 115, 125 of FIG. 1, a device that hosts the users sessions 115, 125 of FIG. 1, or another device that generates print data. The print job destinations 610 may be examples of the print servers 145 or the printers 150 of FIG. 1 or 5.
  • [0080]
    The print job source 605 may transmit print data (not shown) for a print job. The print data may include the image data for the print job and/or metadata. The metadata may be indicative of one or more characteristics of the print job. For example, the metadata may include an identifier or a type associated with the print job source 605, a location associated with the print job source 605, and other data. In other embodiments, the image data may, in whole or in part, come from sources other than the print job source 605.
  • [0081]
    The print data may be received by rules engine 130-a. In one example, the rules engine 130-a may evaluate the location of the print job source 605, and may select the print job destination 610 for the print data based on this location. A variety of location-based technologies may be used to identify the print job source 605 location. When a user smooth roams to a new device and initiates a session, a collection program may be initiated to collect location data to be sent to the rules engine 130-a. By way of example, an update program may dynamically update appropriate variables on a virtual desktop and/or application user session to reflect a current user location, and other attributes. In some embodiments, a program running on a device or a server (e.g., the central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or 3) may update the system registry and/or any other selected files with appropriate variables.
  • [0082]
    In other embodiments, the rules engine 130-a may evaluate additional aspects of the print data, including, but not limited to, print source 605 type, print data type, print source 605 identity, print data identity, print data content, print data size, and the like. The rules engine 130-a may also evaluate additional factors, including but not limited to time of day, printer status or availability, initial or default print job destination identity, and/or user preferences. Based on the evaluation of the additional aspects of the print data and/or the other factors, the rules engine 130-a may apply a set of rules to dynamically identify an updated print job destination 610 for the print job. In still other embodiments, the print data may be associated with other types of addressing or identifiers, and the rules engine 130-a may use this information to dynamically identify a selected or default print job destination 610. The rules engine 130-a may make this determination for each print job, for a set of print jobs, or periodically.
  • [0083]
    To dynamically determine the updated print job destination 610 for the print data, the rules engine 130-a may access a data store 110-b storing various types of rules 325. The rules 325 may be used by the rules engine 130-a to dynamically determine the specific print job destination 610 based on at least one characteristic of the print job. The data store 110-b may be an example of the data store 110 described above with respect to FIG. 1 or 3. Additionally, the rules 325 stored by data store 110-b may be examples of the rules 325 described above with respect to FIG. 3.
  • [0084]
    In the present example, the data store 110-b includes location rules 325-a, device print job source rules 325-b, print job destination rules 325-c, print job type rules 325-d, time of day rules 325-e, and user preference rules 325-f In other examples, the data store 110-b may store more or fewer categories of rules 325 for dynamically determining the print job destination 610 for a print job. The different types of rules 325 may be applied separately or in combination to determine a particular updated print job destination 610. Thus, in certain examples, only one rule 325 may be used to dynamically determine an updated print job destination 610 for a print job. Alternatively, multiple rules 325 of the same or different types may be applied in series or in parallel to one or more characteristics of a print job to dynamically determine the updated print job destination 610. By way of example, if different types of rules applied to a print job conflict with each other, a set of priority rules may be used to resolve the conflict and definitively determine the updated print job destination 610.
  • [0085]
    The location rules 325-a may allow for the dynamic selection of an updated print job destination 610 based on a determined location of the print job source 605 and/or a determined location of one or more possible print job destinations 610. In some examples, the location rules 325-a may allow for the dynamic selection of a print job destination 610 that is nearest to the print job source 605.
  • [0086]
    By way of example, the location rules 325-a may be configured to update the print job destination 610 of a print job by changing a previous or default print job destination 610 associated with the print job source 605 based on a change in location by the print job source 605. For instance, where the print job source 605 is a user session 115 or 125 on a host device, the location rules 325-a may be configured to determine that a user has logged into a new device associated with a new location and dynamically change the print job destination 610 associated with the session 115 or 125 to a print job destination 610-a (e.g., a printer 150) that is closer to the new device.
  • [0087]
    Additionally or alternatively, where the print job source 605 is a mobile device (e.g., a laptop computer or mobile phone), the location rules 325-a may be configured to determine a print job destination 610-a for the mobile device based on a current location of the mobile device. The location of the mobile device may be identified using, for example, the known location of one or more network access points or other network devices with which the mobile device has associated, a GPS calculation performed by the mobile device or a device known to be near the mobile device, a cellular base station triangulation calculation performed by the mobile device or a device known to be near the mobile device, and/or any other method of the location that may suit a particular application of these principles.
  • [0088]
    The print job source rules 325-b in the data store 110-b may allow for the dynamic determination of an updated print job destination 610 for a print job based on at least one or more attributes of the print job source 605. The print job source rules 325-b may include, for example, rules based on an identity of the print job source 605 or an identifier associated with the print job source 605. For example, a print job source 605 may be associated with one or more default print job destinations 610. By determining the identity of the print job source 605, the rules engine 130-a may apply the print job source rules 325-b to identify a default print job destination 610 associated with that print job source 605.
  • [0089]
    In certain examples, the print job source 605 may be associated with a particular level of security clearance and the print job source rules 325-b may determine a print job destination 610 for a print job based on the level of security clearance associated with the identity of the print job source 605.
  • [0090]
    Additionally or alternatively, the print job source rules 325-b may include rules based on the type of print job source 605. Thus, in some examples different print job destinations 610 may be selected depending on whether the print job source 605 is a session 115, 125 or a device. In other examples, different types of print job source 605 devices may be associated with different print job destinations 610.
  • [0091]
    The print job destination rules 325-c in the data store 110-b may be used to determine a print job destination 610 for a print job based on the status or identity of one or more possible print job destinations 610. In one example, a print job destination rule 325-c may associate a print job originally intended for a first print job destination 610-a with a different print job destination 610-e in response to a determination that the first print job destination 610-a is busy, low on supplies, experiencing technical problems, or otherwise unavailable.
  • [0092]
    In other examples, a print job destination rule 325-c may associate each of the various print job destinations 610 with a security level and allow print jobs to be associated with a print job destination 610 if security requirements associated with the print job destination 610 are met. In still other examples, a print job destination rule 325-c may allow print jobs to be associated with a print job destination 610 only if certain security credentials are presented at the print job destination 610 by a recipient.
  • [0093]
    The print job type rules 325-d in the data store 110-b may allow for the dynamic determination of an updated print job destination 610 for a print job based on a type associated with the print job. In certain examples, the print job type rules 325-d may dynamically determine a print job destination 610 for a print job of a certain type by matching the print job to a print job destination 610 capable of handling that type of print job. For instance, a print job destination 610 for a label print job may be selected based on the ability of the print job destination 610 to accept and process label print jobs.
  • [0094]
    Additionally or alternatively, the print job type rules 325-d may dynamically determine print job destinations 610 based on the size or difficulty of certain types of print jobs (e.g., sending large print jobs to less popular print destinations 610 to ease congestion at more popular print destinations 610). In other examples, the print job type rules 325-d may enforce different levels of priority associated with different types of print jobs. For instance, a print job for a label may be given preferred access to a particular print job destination 610 with label printing capabilities over a print job for a generic document on standard paper that can be printed by general-purpose printers.
  • [0095]
    In still other examples, the print job type rules 325-d may dynamically determine print job destinations 610 for a print job based on security considerations associated with the type of print job. For instance, the print job type rules 325-d may not permit a type of print job associated with a certain level of security to be associated with a printer that is commonly used by personnel who do not have authorization to view the contents of that type of print job.
  • [0096]
    The time of day rules 325-e in the data store 110-b may be used to dynamically determine an updated print job destination 610 for a print job based on a current time of day. These time of day rules 325-e may enforce policies put in place for individual distributed printing systems 600. For instance, a security policy may permit a certain print job destination 610 to receive print jobs at some times of the day, but not at others (e.g., to prevent a confidential document from being left in a printer tray overnight). Additionally or alternatively, the time of day rules 325-e may be used to ease congestion. For example, where it is known that a certain print job destination 610 is predictably congested at certain times of the day, the time of day rules 325-e may divert print jobs to alternate print job destinations 610 during those times of the day to lessen the burden on the congested print job destination 610.
  • [0097]
    The user preference rules 325-f of the data store 110-b may allow for the dynamic determination of an updated print job destination 610 for a print job based on a preference specified by a user associated with the print job source 605. The preference may be an unsolicited preference transmitted with the print job from the print job source 605 (e.g., a printer selection made at the time the print job is generated) or solicited from the user. In one example, the rules engine 130-a may receive the print job, identify multiple possible print job destinations 610 for the print job based on at least one characteristic of the print job, provide the identified possible print job destinations 610 to the print job source 605, receive a selection of one of the identified possible print job destinations 610 from the print job source 605, and dynamically determine the updated print job destination 610 for the print job based on the selection received from the print job source 605.
  • [0098]
    With the information identifying the dynamically selected print job destination 610, the print router 140-c may identify, for example, a particular print server 145, a particular printer 150, and driver(s) 305 associated with the selected printer 150 (e.g., if a printer 150 is selected, the print router 140-c may identify a print server 145 and drivers 305 to be used for the print server 145 and the print job source 605). The drivers 305 may be retrieved and distributed to the print server 145 (e.g., by the print router 140-c or another server, such as the central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or 3), and the drivers 305 may be installed.
  • [0099]
    The print router 140-c may transmit or otherwise provide the print data to an identified print server 145 (note, however, that the print server 145 may be a virtual print server, and thus in some embodiments both the print router 140-c and print server 145 may be part of the central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or 3). A print server 145 may process and format the print data, and transmit the processed data to a printer 150 for printing.
  • [0100]
    In one set of embodiments, a set of tables may be stored in a data store (e.g., data store 110 of FIG. 1, 3, or 6) to track associations between print job sources (e.g., print job source 605 of FIG. 6), characteristics associated with the print job (e.g., locations) and print job destinations (e.g., print destinations 610 of FIG. 6). A rules engine (e.g., rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6) may determine the location of a print job source, and map the print job source to an updated print job destination based on the determination. FIGS. 7A, 7B, 7C illustrate one such set of tables.
  • [0101]
    FIG. 7A illustrates a first table 705 that associates a virtual printer identifier with a terminal identifier, a terminal identifier port, and a device. The virtual printer identifier may identify a virtual print destination initially associated with a print job received at central server computer system (e.g., central server computer system 105 of FIG. 1 or FIG. 2) from a print job source. The terminal identifier may identify the print job source. A rules engine (e.g., rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6) may determine the identity of a device associated with the print job source. The first table 705 shows an inference by the rules engine that the print job transmitted to virtual printer ID VPRT01 by terminal ID L184001 on port 9100 is associated with device DTU-1.
  • [0102]
    FIG. 7B illustrates a second table 710 of possible print job destinations for a print job from terminal ID L184001 associated with device DTU-1. The second table 710 may be dynamically generated by a rules engine based at least on the location of device DTU-1. Alternatively, the second table 710 may be continuously stored in a data store and updated from time to time as changes to the rules engine and/or the system architecture occur. As shown in FIG. 7B, the possible print job destinations for the print job of the present example include three printers, each of which is identified by a printer name. The second table 710 may further associate each of the printers with a location and a function. Additionally, the second table 710 indicates a default printer (Dell_F1) for the print job from terminal ID L184001 on device DTU-1.
  • [0103]
    FIG. 7C illustrates a third table (715) which maps a print job received from terminal ID L184001 associated with device DTU-1 at port 9100 to default printer Dell_F1. This mapping may be performed by the rules engine to dynamically update the print destination of the print job, and may occur on a per-print job basis.
  • [0104]
    FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C illustrate the set of tables 705, 710, 715 of FIGS. 7A, 7B, and 7C, respectively, after the print source corresponding to terminal identifier L184001 has moved from device DTU-1 to device DTU-2. This move may occur, for example, if a user associated with terminal identifier L184001 logs off of device DTU-1 and logs in to DTU-2, or if a session associated with terminal identifier L184001 transitions from network access point DTU-1 to network access point DTU-2.
  • [0105]
    FIG. 8A illustrates the first table 705-a, as updated to reflect the new association of virtual printer identifier VPRT01, the print source corresponding to terminal identifier L184001, and port 9100 with device DTU-2.
  • [0106]
    FIG. 8B illustrates the second table 710-a as updated to reflect the selection of a new default printer (HP_F3) for the print source, as dynamically assigned by a rules engine based on the location of DTU-2. The default printer for the print source may be dynamically updated to the new default printer shown in FIG. 8B in response to the rules engine or a related module receiving a notification of a print job from the print source.
  • [0107]
    FIG. 8C illustrates the third table 715-a as updated to reflect a new mapping of a print job received from the print source corresponding to terminal identifier L184001 and port 9100 to printer (HP_F3).
  • [0108]
    The tables 705, 710, 715 of FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 may be updated dynamically to reflect printer availability, printer backlog, and use patterns at a given printer. The tables 705, 710, 715 may be generated or maintained on a per-user, or class of user, basis. In other tables, additional factors may be considered, such as time of day, time of week, type of document, application type, user type, and so on.
  • [0109]
    FIG. 9 illustrates an example of a rules engine 130-b that may be used for dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. The rules engine 140-d may be an example of the rules engine 130 described above with respect to FIG. 1, 2, or 6. The rules engine 130-b of the present example includes a receiving module 905, an identification module 910, and a destination updating module 915. Each of these components may be in communication, directly or indirectly.
  • [0110]
    The receiving module 905 may include logic configured to receive a notification of a print job. In certain examples, the notification of the print job may be received from a print job source (e.g., session 115, 125 of FIG. 1, print job source 605 of FIG. 6). The notification of the print job may include the print job itself. Alternatively, the notification of the print job may include a notification of the print job, but not the print job itself.
  • [0111]
    The identification module 910 may include logic configured to identify at least one characteristic of the print job from the notification of the print job received at the receiving module 905. The identified characteristic(s) of the print job may include one or more of a variety of attributes associated with the print job. For example, the characteristic(s) of the print job may include location information, such as location information associated with a print job source, including information regarding a change in print job source location.
  • [0112]
    Additionally or alternatively, the characteristic(s) of the print job may include information regarding the type of print job, time of day, security permissions and policies, the identity of the print job source, the identity of a device generating the print data, and/or other information about the print job. In certain examples, the characteristic(s) of the print job may include information regarding one or more possible print job destinations (e.g., print servers 145 of FIG. 1, 5, or 6, printers 150 of FIG. 1, 5, or 6). The information regarding the one or more possible print job destinations may include, but is not limited to, information regarding user preferences for print job destinations, information regarding the status of one or more possible print job destinations, information regarding default print job destinations, and the like.
  • [0113]
    In certain examples, the identification module 910 may communicate with an external entity to identify the one or more characteristic(s) of the print job. For example, the identification module 910 may identify an initial set of possible print job destinations for the print job based on the received notification of the print job, provide the set of possible print job destinations to the print job source, and receive a selection of one of the possible print job destinations from the print job source.
  • [0114]
    The destination updating module 915 may include logic for enforcing a set of one or more rules in a data store (e.g., data store 110 of FIG. 1, 3, or 6) to dynamically determine an updated print job destination for the print job based on the identified characteristic(s) of the print job.
  • [0115]
    In certain examples, the destination updating module 915 may dynamically determine the updated print job destination for the print job based on the location of the print job source. The updated print job destination may be, for example, a print job destination that is geographically closest to the print job source or to a user of the print job source. In certain examples, the destination updating module 915 may dynamically determine the updated print job destination in response to a determination that the location of the print job source has changed.
  • [0116]
    Additionally or alternatively, the destination updating module 915 may dynamically determine the updated print job destination based on the type of the print job, a status of at least one possible print job destination for the print job, a current time of day, a user preference, security permissions and policies, the identity of the print job source, the identity of a device generating the print data, and/or other characteristic(s) of the print job.
  • [0117]
    In certain examples, the destination updating module 915 may replace a previous print job destination associated with the print job with the updated print job destination. The previous print job destination may be, for example, a default print job destination or a virtual print job destination associated with the print job. In certain examples, replacing the previous print job with the updated print job may include changing the default print job destination for the print job source.
  • [0118]
    FIG. 10 illustrates an example of a method 1000 of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. The method 1000 may be performed, for example, by the central server computer system 105 of 1, 2, or 5, the rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6, or the print router 140 of FIG. 1, 2, or 5. At block 1005, a notification of a print job is received from a print job source. At block 1010, at least one characteristic of the print job is identified from the received notification. At block 1015, an updated print job destination is dynamically identified for the print job based on the at least one identified characteristic.
  • [0119]
    FIG. 11 illustrates an example of another method 1100 of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. The method 1100 may be performed, for example, by the central server computer system 105 of 1, 2, or 5, the rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6, or the print router 140 of FIG. 1, 2, or 5. At block 1105, a notification of a print job having a first print job destination is received. The first print job destination may be a default print job destination, a virtual print job destination, and/or a print job destination preliminarily selected for the print job. At block 1110, at least one characteristic of the print job is identified from the received notification. At block 1115, a print server destination is dynamically identified for the print job based on the identified characteristic(s) of the print job. At block 1120, the destination of the print job is updated to the identified print server destination. The destination of the print job may be updated by replacing the first print job destination with the identified print server destination. At block 1125, the print job is transmitted to the identified print server destination.
  • [0120]
    FIG. 12 illustrates an example of another method 1200 of dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment. The method 1200 may be performed, for example, by the central server computer system 105 of 1, 2, or 5, the rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6, or the print router 140 of FIG. 1, 2, or 5. At block 1205, a notification of a print job having a first virtual print job destination is received. At block 1210, at least one characteristic of the print job is identified from the received notification. At block 1215, an updated print job destination is dynamically determined for the print job based on the identified characteristic(s). At block 1220, the virtual first destination of the print job is replaced with the updated print job destination. At block 1225, the print job is transmitted to the second print job destination.
  • [0121]
    The functionality of the central server computer system 105 of 1, 2, or 5, the rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6, the print router 140 of FIG. 1, 2, or 5, the backend 120 of FIG. 1 or 4, or the print server 145 of FIG. 1, 5, or 6, may, individually or collectively, be implemented with one or more Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) adapted to perform some or all of the applicable functions in hardware. Alternatively, the functions may be performed by one or more other processing units (or cores), on one or more integrated circuits. In other embodiments, other types of integrated circuits may be used (e.g., Structured/Platform ASICs, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), and other Semi-Custom ICs), which may be programmed in any manner known in the art. The functions of each unit may also be implemented, in whole or in part, with instructions embodied in a memory, formatted to be executed by one or more general or application-specific processors.
  • [0122]
    A device structure 1400 that may be used for one or more components of the central server computer system 105 of 1, 2, or 5, the rules engine 130 of FIG. 1, 2, or 6, the print router 140 of FIG. 1, 2, or 5, the backend 120 of FIG. 1 or 4, the print server 145 of FIG. 1, 5, or 6, or for other computing devices or printers described herein, is illustrated with the schematic diagram of FIG. 13.
  • [0123]
    This drawing broadly illustrates how individual system elements of each of the aforementioned devices may be implemented, whether in a separated or more integrated manner. Thus, any or all of the various components of one of the aforementioned devices may be combined in a single unit or separately maintained and can further be distributed in multiple groupings or physical units or across multiple locations. The example structure shown is made up of hardware elements that are electrically coupled via bus 1305, including processor(s) 1310 (which may further comprise a digital signal processor (DSP) or special-purpose processor), storage device(s) 1315, input device(s) 1320, and output device(s) 1325. The storage device(s) 1315 may be a machine-readable storage media reader connected to any machine-readable storage medium, the combination comprehensively representing remote, local, fixed, or removable storage devices or storage media for temporarily or more permanently containing computer-readable information. The communications system(s) interface 1345 may interface to a wired, wireless, or other type of interfacing connection that permits data to be exchanged with other devices. The communications system(s) interface 1345 may permit data to be exchanged with a network.
  • [0124]
    The structure 1300 may also include additional software elements, shown as being currently located within working memory 1330, including an operating system 1335 and other code 1340, such as programs or applications designed to implement methods of the invention. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that substantial variations may be used in accordance with specific requirements. For example, customized hardware might also be used, or particular elements might be implemented in hardware, software (including portable software, such as applets), or both.
  • [0125]
    It should be noted that the methods, systems and devices discussed above are intended merely to be examples. It must be stressed that various embodiments may omit, substitute, or add various procedures or components as appropriate. For instance, it should be appreciated that, in alternative embodiments, the methods may be performed in an order different from that described, and that various steps may be added, omitted or combined. Also, features described with respect to certain embodiments may be combined in various other embodiments. Different aspects and elements of the embodiments may be combined in a similar manner. Also, it should be emphasized that technology evolves and, thus, many of the elements are exemplary in nature and should not be interpreted to limit the scope of the invention.
  • [0126]
    Specific details are given in the description to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments. However, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the embodiments may be practiced without these specific details. For example, well-known circuits, processes, algorithms, structures, and techniques have been shown without unnecessary detail in order to avoid obscuring the embodiments.
  • [0127]
    Also, it is noted that the embodiments may be described as a process which is depicted as a flow diagram or block diagram. Although each may describe the operations as a sequential process, many of the operations can be performed in parallel or concurrently. In addition, the order of the operations may be rearranged. A process may have additional steps not included in the figure.
  • [0128]
    Moreover, as disclosed herein, the term “memory” or “memory unit” may represent one or more devices for storing data, including read-only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), magnetic RAM, core memory, magnetic disk storage mediums, optical storage mediums, flash memory devices or other computer-readable mediums for storing information. The term “computer-readable medium” includes, but is not limited to, portable or fixed storage devices, optical storage devices, wireless channels, a sim card, other smart cards, and various other mediums capable of storing, containing or carrying instructions or data.
  • [0129]
    Furthermore, embodiments may be implemented by hardware, software, firmware, middleware, microcode, hardware description languages, or any combination thereof. When implemented in software, firmware, middleware or microcode, the program code or code segments to perform the necessary tasks may be stored in a computer-readable medium such as a storage medium. Processors may perform the necessary tasks.
  • [0130]
    Having described several embodiments, it will be recognized by those of skill in the art that various modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents may be used without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, the above elements may merely be a component of a larger system, wherein other rules may take precedence over or otherwise modify the application of the invention. Also, a number of steps may be undertaken before, during, or after the above elements are considered. Accordingly, the above description should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A distributed printing system comprising:
    a print job source configured to generate a print job;
    a plurality of printers;
    a data store comprising a set of rules for dynamically determining an updated print job destination for the print job based on at least one characteristic of the print job; and
    a rules engine configured to:
    receive a notification of the print job;
    identify the at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification; and
    apply the set of rules in the data store to the identified at least one characteristic of the print job to dynamically determine the updated print job destination for the print job, wherein the updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer in the plurality of printers.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein the rules engine is further configured to:
    identify a location of the print job source as the at least one characteristic of the print job; and
    determine the updated print job destination based on the location of the print job source.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1, wherein the rules engine is further configured to:
    determine a time of day associated with the print job; and
    determine the updated print job destination based on the time of day associated with the print job.
  4. 4. The system of claim 1, wherein the rules engine is further configured to:
    determine that the print job is of a certain type; and
    determine the updated print job destination based on the type of the print job.
  5. 5. The system of claim 1, wherein the rules engine is further configured to:
    determine a status of at least one possible print job destination; and
    determine the updated print job destination based on the status of the at least one possible print job destination.
  6. 6. The system of claim 1, wherein the rules engine is further configured to replace a print job destination previously associated with the print job with the updated print job destination.
  7. 7. A method of dynamic print routing in a distributed printing environment, comprising receiving a notification of a print job from a print job source;
    identifying at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification; and
    dynamically determining an updated print job destination for the print job based on the at least one characteristic of the print data, wherein the updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer.
  8. 8. The method of claim 7, wherein the dynamically determining the updated print job destination for the print job is performed by a rules engine configured to enforce a set of rules stored in a data store.
  9. 9. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    identifying a location of the print job source as the at least one characteristic of the print job; and
    determining the updated print job destination based on the location of the print job source.
  10. 10. The method of claim 9, further comprising:
    determining that the location of the print job source has changed; and
    dynamically determining the updated print job destination for the print job in response to the determination that the location of the print job source has changed.
  11. 11. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    determining that the print job is of a certain type; and
    determining the updated print job destination based on the type of the print job.
  12. 12. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    determining a status of at least one possible print job destination; and
    determining the updated print job destination based on the status of the at least one possible print job destination.
  13. 13. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    determining a current time of day; and
    determining the updated print job destination based on the current time of day.
  14. 14. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    replacing a previous print job destination associated with the print job with the updated print job destination.
  15. 15. The method of claim 7, wherein the previous print job destination comprises a virtual print job destination.
  16. 16. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    changing a default print job destination associated with the print job source.
  17. 17. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    determining a plurality of possible print job destinations based on the at least one characteristic of the print job;
    providing the plurality of possible print job destinations to the print job source;
    receiving a selection of one of the plurality of possible print job destinations from the print job source; and
    determining the updated print job destination based on the selection received from the print job source.
  18. 18. The method of claim 7, wherein the updated print job destination comprises at least one of a print server or a printer.
  19. 19. A rules engine apparatus, comprising:
    a receiving module configured to receive a notification of a print job from a print job source;
    an identification module configured to identify at least one characteristic of the print job from the received notification; and
    a destination updating module configured to dynamically determine an updated print job destination for the print job based on the at least one characteristic of the print job, wherein the updated print job destination is associated with at least one printer.
  20. 20. The rules engine apparatus of claim 19, wherein the rules engine apparatus is implemented by at least one central server computer system.
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US13276030 Abandoned US20120092719A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Centralized print job routing in a distributed printing environment
US13276021 Abandoned US20120092693A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Centralized print driver distribution in a distributed printing environment
US13276073 Abandoned US20120092723A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Bidirectional print router communications in a distributed printing environment
US13276065 Abandoned US20120092722A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment
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US13276021 Abandoned US20120092693A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Centralized print driver distribution in a distributed printing environment
US13276073 Abandoned US20120092723A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Bidirectional print router communications in a distributed printing environment
US13276065 Abandoned US20120092722A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2011-10-18 Managing printer feedback in a distributed printing environment
US13686631 Abandoned US20130094060A1 (en) 2010-10-18 2012-11-27 Dynamic print job routing in a distributed printing environment

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US20120092722A1 (en) 2012-04-19 application
US20120092719A1 (en) 2012-04-19 application
US20120092721A1 (en) 2012-04-19 application
US8854663B2 (en) 2014-10-07 grant
US20120092693A1 (en) 2012-04-19 application
US20130094060A1 (en) 2013-04-18 application
US20120092723A1 (en) 2012-04-19 application

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