HP is looking for beta test sites starting this week, companies who want to try out the new networked printing enhancements for the HP 3000. Jeff Vance posted a note on the HP 3000 newsgroup late Friday evening, as well as on the OpenMPE mailing list, asking for beta sites:
The #1 2004 SIB item -- support non-HP printers via MPE/iX network printing -- is complete and ready for beta testing. The patch ID is: MPEMXU1A.
Please, if at all possible, request this patch so that beta testing can complete in a timely manner and thus MXU1A can be placed in General Release (GR) status shortly.
The engineering is designed to make it easier to use non-HP printers with the 3000. HP's done the work by adding a new option in networked printing's configuration file. PCL_ENABLED can be set to false, to remove all PCL sequences at the beginning and end of a spool file. You can also control flushing of the last printed page.
HP offered an update on this work one year ago, agreeing to the engineering project. Vance is referencing the last official vote on a System Improvement Ballot for HP 3000s when he talks about #1, but keep in mind that only 223 ballots rolled in. That's one reason why there was no vote on the many requests submitted for an SIB this year. Lots of ideas on how to improve the 3000, from customers still using the system. But the desire hasn't been matched by numbers that can spring loose more engineering time from HP.
Customers have wanted this kind of flexibility for 3000 printing for a long time. That's why companies like RAC Consulting and Minisoft (reselling the RAC engineering) have been able to sell a first-rate third party package to tie printers to 3000, one with fewer blind spots than this new free patch. HP's offering won't let Windows-hosted printers participate in the 3000 network printing enhancement, for example. And you'd better be on the latest MPE/iX release to use the patch, too.
HP gives a rundown on the functionality of the feature in what Vance calls "a Communicator-like article" on the 3000 group's Jazz Web site. But the vendor warns customers not to expect too much apres-engineering on this new feature one it clears beta testing:
HP will support this enhancement on a “best-effort” basis, meaning we will attempt to duplicate and resolve specific spooler problems, but we cannot guarantee that all ASCII based printers are supported by this enhancement.