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WHAT IS POSTSCRIPT PRINTING?

(14/07/2018)

 

While it isn’t exactly a very common question amongst printer users, it is still one that has been asked a few times in the history of Inkjet Wholesale. However, of late, we’ve seen a certain rise in the number of times our users have asked us, “what is postscript printing”. Our internal investigation (formal for a “guesstimate”) suggests that the reason could be the number of reviews we’ve done in the recent past. You see, in our reviews, posted every Monday, there have been numerous times when we’ve mentioned postscripts.

Printers that support postscript printing tend to be significantly more expensive than devices that don’t. In addition to this, there is very little information online about postscript printing. What is clear, however, is that postscript printing is required for certain specialised types of documents. Therefore, if a potential buyer has to decide between a postscripts enabled printer and the standard configuration; he needs to know what is postscript printing.

Unfortunately, with the type of information available online or lack of it thereof, it is downright impossible for potential users to figure out what is postscript printing, hence, whether they need to buy a postscript enabled machine or not. Taking cognisance of this gap in knowledge, we decided to create a post explaining what is postscript printing and whether you need a postscript enabled printer or not.

Answering What Is Postscript Printing Through the Historical Perspective

Postscript printing is nothing but printing some document through the use of postscripts. Postscript is a computer language. Its purpose is to interpret elements of the image on a document so that it can be presented by an output device such as a printer. The placement of postscript programming language in the printing process can be traced all the back to the origin of printers.

The earliest printers were ASCII printers wherein hardware based limitations defined what the printer would be capable of printing. With the ASCII printers, you couldn’t print graphics or, for that matter, anything other than the symbols that were hard coded into the printer. These types of printers weren’t all that different from typewriters in how they printed documents and, hence, had similar limitations.

ASCII printers were followed by dot matrix printers. These printers operated by breaking down images into pixels and then arranging the pixels in a way that depicted the image on the paper. The printed images were still extremely crude with the images being presented in grayscale and blocky forms. The process of printing was simple with the dot matrix printers i.e. moving the print head on the paper one line at a time, pushing the paper up, and then doing the same again.

Simultaneously to the dot matrix printers, plotters were developed. Plotters are devices that use mathematically guided movement of the substrate, stylus, or a blade to transfer images from electronic format to physical format. Plotters produce pure vector shapes, which means that the images are more realistic and graceful as opposed to chunky and “pixelated”. However, plotters have their own deficiencies. Since plotters use precise mathematically guided movements, they can’t produc

e graphics and typography at the same time on the same substrate.

The problem of printing typography and graphics on the same substrate by the same device was solved with the invention of xerography for PCs i.e. the first laser printer for computers. The printing process in xerography is distinct from all ASCII printers, dot matrix printers, and plotters. This allows for clean typography and graphics to be printed on the same substrate by the same device.

However, there was a hitch even with this new printing process. The hitch was to formulate instructions for the printer that could support both typography and graphic printing. This was when postscript was developed by John Warnock and Charles Geschke. Thus, it can be said that postscript is an interpretive language designed to act as a bridge between various other programming languages and printers

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What Is Postscript Printing Good For?

To answer “what is postscript printing”: it is a process of printing that is utilised by advanced users with complex application challenges.  With respect to what it is used for, it would be very difficult for anyone to pinpoint industries and specific uses. However, if you’re trying to print high-end graphics combined with relatively sophisticated typography from different platforms, then you will most probably need postscript printing.

While specific applications and industries cannot be pointed out for postscript printing, it would be possible to answer “what is postscript printing good for” by listing its characteristic features. Consider the following.

  1. Postscript supports fundamental coordinate systems that incorporate multiple combinations and permutations of elements such as skewing, reflection, rotation, scaling, translation, and linear transformations.
  2. Postscript printing makes it easier for users to print documents, graphics, and images regardless of their resolution, colour schemes, and in the majority of cases even platforms.
  3. Postscript printing makes combining text and graphics much easier because the language treats text characters as graphical shapes.
  4. Postscript language supports specific colour separations, colour mapping, and repeating patterns succinctly. Shapes and graphics can be modified in terms of outlines of varied thickness as well as filled with colours as and when required. Multiple colour platforms such as CMYK, RGB, and even pseudo-grayscale are made acceptable in postscript printing too.
  5. Postscript printing supports all types of shapes when they are made out of cubic curves, rectangles, arcs, and straight lines. Moreover, complexities such as intersections and gaps in the shapes are also acceptable.
  6. Postscript printing is also useful when work is being channelled through Macintosh computers.
  7. Postscript printing can also be utilised to match font styles with other users’ computers.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Postscript Printing?

No doubt you’ve already surmised all the advantages and disadvantages of postscript printing by having read everything above about what is postscript printing. However, we’ll still give you a quick walk through the various advantages and disadvantages of postscript printing.

The biggest advantage of postscript printing is that it is device independent. You could be using any type of operating system or platform and you’ll still be able to work with postscript. In fact, you’ll even have the option of shuttling back and forth between various platforms without needing to change formats or make any conversions. Another great benefit of using postscript printing is the fact that it is compatible with your entire network regardless of what devices are being used on it.

Finally, postscript printing is beneficial because you’ll always have the chance to modify the code in the event you need to modify some little details about your work. For instance, people with basic knowledge and understanding of coding have been able to modify postscript codes to get minor modifications such as thicker lines and larger scales.

There are only two major flaws of postscript printing. The first is that postscript printing can be slower than normal printing simply because interpreting the code takes a little bit of time. Estimates suggest that postscript printing can be anything between two to five times slower than normal printing even for simple graphics, leave alone mixed documents containing graphics and typography. The second flaw of postscript printing is that it can be quite memory intensive. The memory that postscript printing requires isn’t associated with the file size but instead the complexity of the image that needs to be printed.

Source: SHALEEN, 25 SEP, 2016 - https://blog.inkjetwholesale.com.au/printer-education/what-is-postscript-printing/