Spooler / Print Server options


Active member
I've been searching the internets and can't seem to find what used to be somewhat common.

We are a mostly digital shop that uses both Postscript and PDF for printing to a number of devices.
Most of these are Xerox B&W or colour presses with previous generations of UNIX FreeFlow. We recently got a newer Windows-based FreeFlow RIP attached to a Brenva. And we have Fiery now, too. And a standalone older Prinergy rip for plates.
We've always had issues with an all PDF workflow due to dynamic stock selection needs mixing with various composition engines for our variable print jobs. We accomplish this with Postscript.
In addition, we have control reports accompanying jobs that are just text files. The newer FreeFlow RIP dropped support of ASCII file printing totally, so those need to be converted or they error out. As it stands, we use the Freeflow RIPs on the various printers for queuing, and sometimes move from one RIP to another. Which is awkward with the different versions.

And because of approved existing workflow using old programming, we can't just switch workflows without a bunch of work and verification.

For a long time, we made use of PrintFile https://www.lerup.com/printfile/ which does a couple useful things. It features hot folders and command line control. And it copies the print file to another directory. (We script these directories to allow easy access to whats been recently printed, in case of remakes when the actual print file is no longer on the RIP.) This software still works but hasn't been updated since 2007. But it does have reliability issues.

Our print files are either dropped manually into the queues by humans or by programming or a web-based order.

There used to be many choices for commercial print servers/spoolers. My favourite was PServe by CoOperative Printing Solutions (COPS) in Georgia but I'm dating myself. And there was Color Central. And UltimateFlow. But now I can't find many choices to do something similar. There are a few choices that are built to translate documents to print, resize pages, or impose/gang jobs. But we don't want to translate the files because that would lose what we programmed into the Postscript. An interesting product I found was PaperCut, which seems to run on top of a print server (like Windows). This adds accounting features and security/encryption which will be useful going forward. I am also guessing Enfocus Switch could possibly do the sorts of things we need (along with identify & flag missing fonts). But it seems like overkill. Back when OPI was all the rage, there were several options to do this sort of thing.

Are there suggestions for a centralized system that accepts print files on one end and queues them to RIPs on the other end — with a few features like saving the files, logging and hot folders? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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