The Birth of the Virtual Print Driver
Back in 2001, Tricerat was the company that pioneered ScrewDrivers, the virtual print driver, allowing a single driver to be used on a terminal server supporting many users and printers. This advance was a massive improvement to the problem of printing in server-based computing. Now, almost 15 years later, the basic approach is still the recommended and preferred method for printing from remote desktop sessions.
The advantages to this approach were many, including session stability, printer management, and ease of provisioned deployments. However, one of the few drawbacks of this technology was that a generic set of print features was used. On one hand, having one interface regardless of printer type was great. But on the other, if you had high-end printers with extra features on it, you could not use those features through a virtual print driver environment.
Evolution of ScrewDrivers
For years, ScrewDrivers offered a few methods that helped users get access to those advanced print features. First, administrators could set up different print queues with the different options pre-selected. One print queue could offer stapling, while another would do stapling and hole-punching. While this could work in some environments, it didn’t fully deliver the extended features of the printer, like PIN code secure printing, for example.
Tricerat addressed this through new options built into ScrewDrivers, specifically the ability to launch the “client print dialog.” This would bring the print job to the client system, and then display another dialog to the user. This second print dialog was the real manufacturer driver and offered a full set of print features.
This delivered great functionality to the user, but was limited to client printers only. Which raises the question: "What happens when you want to use network print server printers through our Simplify Printing program?" In this case, there is not a 'client UI' to display. It is on a print server, running as a service. This can present issues for virtual print drivers and, for some environments, can be a major drawback.
Today…The Best of Both Worlds
Finally solving this problem is the “Advanced Print Features” option of Tricerat Simplify Printing. This revolutionary technique allows communication with the native driver on the print server, streaming select UI elements to the print server for display to the user. The driver is not installed on the terminal server or virtual desktop session, maintaining the driverless approach. The user now has the opportunity to view and interact with advanced options in the native driver dialogue PIN codes for secure print or department printing? Check. Finishing features like stapling and hole-punching? Check. Custom document management and hold jobs? Check. It is the full dialog from the native driver, displayed on the remote desktop session from a virtual print driver!
For a quick overview of how this feature is presented to the user, check out the video below. And to use it, try the only virtual print driver product that supports advanced print features: Tricerat Simplify Printing.
Andrew Parlette is Vice President of Product Engineering at Tricerat, Inc. Andrew joined the company in 1999 as a software developer and now oversees the technical operations including direct management of the software development teams and customer service. Tweet him at @ParletteAndrew!