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Basic Concepts Of Electronic Printing. William J. “Bill” McCalpin EDPP, CDIA, MIT, LIT The Xenos Group (972) 857-0776 Xplor Global Conference Los Angeles, CA 1999. About The Speaker. Mr. McCalpin is Director of Product Management at Xenos Group

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basic concepts of electronic printing

Basic Concepts Of Electronic Printing

William J. “Bill” McCalpin


The Xenos Group

(972) 857-0776

Xplor Global Conference

Los Angeles, CA 1999

about the speaker
About The Speaker
  • Mr. McCalpin is Director of Product Management at Xenos Group
  • He received the EDPP from Xplor International in 1992.
  • He received the CDIA from CompTIA in 1996.
  • He received the MIT from AIIM in 1997.
  • He received the LIT from AIIM in 1998.
about the speaker cont
About The Speaker (cont.)
  • Mr. McCalpin writes and speaks frequently on subjects in the electronic printing and imaging industries. He has spoken more than forty times at Xplor, AIIM, DocuGroup, and Guide meetings.
  • Mr. McCalpin is a member of both Xplor and AIIM. He serves on multiple committees in AIIM and Xplor.
the chinese
The Chinese
  • By the end of the 2nd century A.D., the Chinese had the three requirements for printing:
    • paper
    • ink
    • relief surfaces.
the chinese cont
The Chinese (cont.)
  • By the 8th century, wooden blocks were used for the reliefs. The oldest known printed works date from this time
    • 764-770 - Buddhist incantations printed in Japan
    • 868 - The first known book was made in China, ‘The Diamond Sutra.”
the chinese cont7
The Chinese (cont.)
  • Movable type was invented in China in the 11th century, but this invention did not catch on.
  • In the early 14th century, a Chinese magistrate had a set of 60,000 Chinese characters carved on wooden blocks for the printing of a treatise on the history of technology.
the arabs bring paper to the west
The Arabs Bring Paper To The West
  • 8th century - The knowledge of how to make paper came through the caravan routes of Central Asia.
  • 12th century - Italians begin trading with the Arabs to bring paper to Europe.
  • 13th & 14th centuries - Europeans create papermaking centers in Italy, France, and Germany.
europe learned about paper but not printing
Europe Learned About Paper, But Not Printing

Despite trade and the travels of people like Marco Polo, Europeans never learned the art of xylography (printing from wood carving) from the Chinese. The ability to print in this way was spontaneously learned by the Europeans no earlier than the last quarter of the 14th century.

the europeans start to print
The Europeans Start To Print
  • The first printed items were relief images pressed onto paper, typically religious in nature.
  • Text was added to the images, and so the first real books appeared in Europe in the first half of the 15th century.
metallographic printing
Metallographic Printing

1430-1450 - After 12 centuries, Europeans finally go beyond the Chinese by making durable components for Metallographic printing:

  • the metal die
  • the matrix
  • cast lead
johannes gutenberg
Johannes Gutenberg

About 1450, Johannes Gutenberg first associated the idea of using die, matrix, and lead with the invention of the printing press.

the screw press
The Screw Press

The ‘screw press’ was used for the next 350 years with technological improvements allowing such a press to print up to 250 copies an hour.

technology improves printing 19th century
Technology Improves Printing 19th Century

The 19th century saw the introduction of:

  • stereotypy (stereotyped plates allow several presses to print the same text at the same time)
  • steam power
  • cylinder presses
  • roll-fed rotary presses
  • typecasting machines such as the Linotype and Monotype.
technology improves printing 20th century
Technology Improves Printing 20th Century

The 20th century introduced many more advance- ments in printing: offset printing, dry offset, color printing, photocomposition, even three dimensional printing.

at last electronic printing
At Last - Electronic Printing!
  • 1923 - Electrostatic printing was first demonstrated when the ink of a cylindrical typeform was attracted to paper by means of an electronic charge.
  • 1948 - two Americans conceived the idea of using a dry powder rather than ink, and the first modern office copiers were born.
the 9700
The 9700

In 1977 or so, Xerox introduces the 9700, the first cut sheet production printer, and our industry starts to take off!

how electronic printers print
How Electronic Printers Print
  • Xerox Centralized Printers are white on black
  • HP and other printers are black on white
how a xerox 9700 prints
1. The image is resolved into a bit map.

2. Each 'scan line' is dispatched to the engine.

3. A photoelectric drum which is on a circular belt is charged with a high voltage.

4. A laser is fired through a

piece of glass at a rotating, mirrored polygon.

5. The bits in the scan line cause the piece of glass through which the laser is passing to vibrate.

6. The laser beam hits the drum for each ‘off’ pixel, and discharges that spot on the drum.

How A Xerox 9700 Prints
how a xerox 9700 prints cont
7. Toner is passed over the drum, and the toner sticks to the charged areas.

8. Paper is passed over the drum, and the toner now sticks to the paper.

9. The paper, now with toner applied, passes

through a fuser, which is a set of very hot rollers (400°F) which ‘fuse’ the toner to the paper.

10. The paper is post-processed as needed and placed into an output bin.

How A Xerox 9700 Prints (cont.)
definitions in electronic printing

Definitions In Electronic Printing

Or, how what Gutenberg did five centuries still affects you today...


Type - from the Greek word typtein - to beat or strike. Even today, the phrase in Italian for ‘to type’ is battere a macchina, literally, to ‘beat with the machine’.

  • Font
  • Forms
  • Image
  • Graphic
  • Logo
please note
Please Note
  • In AFP, a graphic refers only to a vector representation.
  • In AFP, an image refers only to a raster representation.
  • The word logo is a reference to a Xerox-specific object.
  • In AFP, a form is called an overlay.

Pica Pitch




em space

en space

996 points are equivalent to 35 centimeters, or one point is equal to .01383 inches. This means about 72.3 points to the inch. We in electronic printing use 72 points per inch


From the Medieval Latin word for directory, probably referring to the usual size of the type used to print a directory, about 1/6th of an inch; hence, 12 points make up a pica, and 6 picas make up an inch.

A letter-sized sheet of paper in the U.S. is 66 picas long.

x height
The height of the lowercase x. Used in typography as the standard height of the body for all the characters in the font, minus their ascenders and descenders.

b x p

Originally, a unit of measure equal to the width of the capital M, the widest character in a font. Now the em space is equal to the height of the font, hence the em space of a 10 point font is 10 points (wide).

The default word space for this font is 1/3 an em space.

Half an em space.

Two ens add up to an em.

Probably from Middle English picchen, to strike - the number of characters per inch (applied to a monopitch font)


Referring to a font in which all the characters are the same width.


10 pitch is 10 characters per inch.

Referring to a font in which each character has a width appropriate to the size of the character. E.g., in a proportional font (like this one), ‘I’ is much narrower than ‘W”.


the ‘M’ is many times wider than the ‘i’ in a proportional font.

the character
The Character
  • Raster fonts are fonts whose characters are defined by bitmaps (see right).
  • Outline fonts (also called scalable) are fonts whose characters are defined by strokes.

Baseline - An imaginary line upon which the body of the character sits. All characters on a line of text share the same baseline, even characters in different fonts.

ascender and descender
Ascender - strokes which rise above the x-height (or body of the character).

Descender - strokes which go below the baseline (or the body of the character).

b q

Ascender And Descender
font height and baseline
Font height - the sum of the length of the longest descender, longest ascender, and x-height.

Line skip - Usually, the distance from baseline to baseline. Note, this value is often larger than the font height.



Font Height And Baseline
Kern - from the French word carne, meaning projecting angle or hinge, ultimately from the Latin word cardo (cardinis), a hinge. Kern is that part of the face of a letter which projects beyond the body.Kern
serif and sans serif
· Serif & Sans Serif - serif (also spelled cerif) comes from the Dutch word schreef, meaning a stroke or a line, from schrijve (to write, cf. German schreiben), ultimately from Latin scribere




Serif And Sans Serif
Leading - blank dies made of the metal lead were inserted between characters on a line of type to enable justifying the line of text to fit the print area

This text has been left and right justified so the word spaces vary.

upper case and lower case
Upper Case And Lower Case
  • The box on the right hand side contained individual pieces of type
  • The less frequently used characters would be at the top - away from the printer
  • Hence, capital letters were called “upper case”
mind your p s and q s
Mind Your P’s And Q’s
  • “p’s and q’s” - the phrase mind your p’s and q’s comes from the days of metal type. On metal type, the image of the character is backwards from the printed image. Since a ‘p’ and a ‘q’ are mirror images of each other, it is easy to confuse them, hence the warning.
  • Philology is the study of language, normally human languages
  • One field of study in philology is the relationship that different languages have to one another
  • What happens if we apply philology to electronic printing?
in the beginning
In The Beginning
  • The first computer created tables for artillery
  • Mechanical typewriters
  • ‘Line Data’
ebcdic versus ascii
  • BCD - Binary Coded Decimal
  • BCDIC - Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code
  • EBCDIC - IBM Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code
  • ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange
ebcdic line data
EBCDIC Line Data
  • EBCDIC encoded - 8 bit
  • Record-oriented because of IBM OS’s
  • Carriage controls
    • Machine carriage controls
    • ANSI carriage controls
ascii line data
ASCII Line Data
  • ASCII encoded - 7 bit
  • ‘Record’ orientation is not intrinsic to OS
  • Text files use print controls to delimit records
  • Common print controls
    • x’0d’ carriage return
    • x’0a’ line feed
    • x’0c’ form feed
the ebcdic family tree
The EBCDIC Family Tree
  • EBCDIC text
  • 1403 data - EBCDIC records with a carriage control
  • LCDS - ‘Line conditioned’ data stream
    • 3800 Mod I
    • 3211 data with Xerox DJDEs
    • Others
  • AFP and IPDS
the ascii family tree
The ASCII Family Tree
  • ASCII text
  • ASCII text with print controls
  • ASCII text with escape sequences

Epson MX-80 Xerox UDK (XES)


HP PCL Xerox Metacode

  • Print programming languages using ASCII

Interpress PostScript

escape sequences versus programming language
Escape Sequences Versus Programming Language
  • For escape sequence data streams, the host completely formats the documents - the printer merely follows the instructions
  • For programming language data streams, the host describes the document to be printed - the printer finishes the composition process
escape sequences versus programming language cont
Escape Sequences Versus Programming Language (cont.)
  • Escape sequence data streams normally print faster on the printer
  • Programming language data streams enable superior graphics
  • Both are capable of printing the average business document: text, fonts, graphics, scanned images, etc.
line data versus apa data
Line Data versus APA Data
  • Line Data
    • Character-based
    • Row and column oriented
  • All Points Addressable
    • Lets you place toner almost anywhere on a page
    • Requires significantly more information to print or view than “line data”
printing resources basics
Printing Resources: Basics
  • Anything the printer needs to resolve the print datastream
  • Specialized groups of control records
  • Fonts, Forms, and Graphics
  • The file(s) that define how the characters should appear when the file is created
  • One or more files in a vendor-specific format
  • Contain mappings of specific codepoints (codepages/symbol sets) to images of the characters
font basics
Font Basics
  • Serif or Sans Serif
  • Weight: UltraLight or UltraBold
  • Stress: Roman, Oblique, Italic
  • Point Size - 72 points per inch
  • Character set / Code page
  • Custom Logo and signature fonts

No two shops have exactly the same set of fonts installed!

forms overlays macros
Forms / Overlays / Macros
  • Contain data used repeatedly
  • designed to replace preprinted forms
  • may contain lines, text and/or graphics
  • may be inline or in a separately- called file
  • format is different for each datastream
images graphics
Images / Graphics
  • Bitmap images are made of a pattern of dots
  • Vector graphics are mathematical instructions for drawing lines
  • All datastreams support one or more types of bitmap images
  • Not all datastreams support vectors
the datastreams
The Datastreams
  • What are they?
  • What are the pieces? (resources)
  • Where do you find the pieces?
  • Who uses them?
what is afp
What is AFP?
  • Advanced Function Printing (1980’s) / Presentation (1990’s)
  • Publicly documented, open architecture from IBM - an industry standard
  • Provides integration of data and resources to create pages for printing, viewing, or archiving
  • All Points Addressable datastream
  • The device independent, object-based structured datastream
  • Contains text, image, forms, fonts, bar codes, graphics, formatting instructions, tagging for indexing or finishing
  • Uses internal and external fonts, graphics, & forms
  • Resources are centrally controlled
print services facility
Print Services Facility
  • Printers are most often attached to a mainframe or workstation that maintains control of the print process via PSF
  • PSF transforms device independent AFPDS to device dependent IPDS
  • PSF provides error recovery
flavors of afp
Flavors of AFP
  • Line Data (3211) - usually EBCDIC
    • may have CC and/or font index characters
  • Conditioned Line Data / Mixed Mode
  • Fully Composed - MO:DCA
    • Mixed Object Document Content Architecture
    • New objects: multimedia, page grouping, navigation, non-AFP
  • ACIF - resources are bundled in a single file
what creates afp
What Creates AFP?
  • Script Languages
    • DCF, BookMaster, CompuSet
  • Industry-specific applications:
    • CSF, EZ-Letter, DocuMerge, CBIS
  • Transforms
    • Xenos’ Meta2AFP, PCL2AFP, etc.
  • Report management systems:
    • CA, New Dimension, RDS
  • AFP Print Driver for Windows, APIs, Toolbox
  • Form Design Packages
    • Elixir, ISIS, ProForm, DOC1, XPRINT
  • User Created programs
afp wrap up
AFP Wrap-up
  • IBM AFP is based on an architecture, which is published
  • AFP printers are centrally managed from a host
  • Resources normally reside on the host, not the printer
xerox printer datastreams
Xerox Printer Datastreams
  • 2 “languages” for high-speed centralized printing: Metacode and DJDE
  • UDK/XES for Xerox decentralized printing
  • PostScript (Midrange and DocuTech)
  • PCL (Midrange)
  • XES/Metacode mixed - 4235
xerox terms
Xerox Terms
  • Online Printing: Printer is attached to a host computer which controls the print job.
  • Offline Printing: Printer is not attached to a host computer. Print jobs are fed via an attached peripheral device, usually a tape drive. Some commands behave differently.
what is metacode
What is Metacode?
  • Native printer language to Xerox ESS/Centralized printers
  • Fastest way to print on a Xerox Centralized printer
  • Partially documented, proprietary Xerox Format - not an architecture
  • A set of ASCII formatting controls that more closely resembles stream I/O
metacode djdes
Metacode / DJDEs
  • Printer control commands may be interspersed with print data; sometimes the printer control commands appear within the same record as the print data.
  • The Metacode printer may switch between EBCDIC and ASCII data modes between print jobs, or within jobs as required.
other flavors of metacode
Other Flavors of “Metacode”
  • Conditioned Line Data: DJDE
    • line data with DJDE records to change fonts, and call forms and images
    • The bulk of all Xerox printing
  • Mixed Mode
    • Metacode and line data in the same print file, sometimes in alternating records
    • Usually generated by 3rd-party products
    • “page interleaved” files slow the printer down
what creates metacode
What Creates Metacode?
  • Script Languages
    • DCF/BookMaster with DCF/PLUS, CompuSet/XICS
  • Industry-specific applications
    • CSF, EZ-Letter, or DocuMerge
  • Transforms
    • Xenos’ AFP2Meta, PCL2Meta, etc.
  • Forms design packages
    • Elixir or Intran, Proform
  • User created programs (rare)
  • Application of DJDEs to legacy line data
metacode wrap up
Metacode Wrap-up
  • Metacode is not an architecture
  • There is no PSF to monitor resource usage
  • Resources are usually stored on the printer
  • Data and printer commands can be either ASCII or EBCDIC
what is pcl
What is PCL?
  • All Points Addressable Datastream
  • Publicly documented, owned by HP
  • Provides integration of data and resources to create pages for printing
  • ASCII data with escape sequences to designate printer commands
  • Many levels, newest is Level 6
  • Levels 4 and 5 are most commonly used
what creates pcl
What Creates PCL?
  • A variety of programs such as PeopleSoft
  • User created programs
  • Print Drivers
  • Transforms such as Xenos’s AFP2PCL, Meta2PCL, XES2PCL, PDF2PCL
pcl wrap up
PCL Wrap-up
  • PCL is an ASCII datastream most often generated by PC-based programs
  • PCL uses very few external resource files
  • PCL fonts are often stored on the printer either in ROM or on cartridges
what is postscript
What is PostScript?
  • Adobe’s Document Formatting Language
  • All Points Addressable
  • Complex Language with standard computing operators
  • Still changing
  • Designed for flexibility, not speed
what creates postscript
What Creates PostScript?
  • Adobe and 3rd Party Software packages
  • Many graphics and page layout programs
  • User created software (rare)
  • Windows Print Drivers
  • Transforms such as Xenos’s AFP2PS, Meta2PS, PCL2PS, XES2PS
what is pdf
What is PDF?
  • Adobe’s Portable Document Format
  • NOT exactly PostScript -No math or GOTOs
  • Self-contained for easier sharing
  • Designed for rapid Viewing
  • Designed to support Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Exchange.
  • Supported by web browsers via plug-in
  • Designed for cross-platform compatibility (Windows, MAC, UNIX, WWW)
what can you do with pdf
What Can You Do with PDF?
  • Post documents on the WWW
  • Create viewable versions of business documents
  • Index, annotate, link and bookmark documents
  • Combine, extract, and manipulate document pages
  • View Thumbnails of pages
what creates pdf
What Creates PDF?
  • Created from PostScript files by Adobe Distiller
  • PDF Writer (emulates a print driver)
  • Transforms such as Xenos’s AFP2PDF, Meta2PDF, PCL2PDF, and XES2PDF
  • A growing number of other software packages
the other pieces adobe fonts
The Other Pieces - Adobe Fonts
  • Define how the characters should appear when the file is created
  • Printer-resident fonts used for most PostScript jobs.
  • TrueType and Type 1 scaleable fonts may reside on the host and be sent to the printer with the job
  • May also use Type 3 bitmapped fonts
pdf fonts base 14
PDF Fonts - Base 14
  • All Acrobat installations contain 14 base fonts:

Helvetica Helvetica-Oblique



Times-Bold Times-BoldItalic


Courier-Bold Courier-BoldOblique

Symbol ( ZapfDingbats ()

postscript wrap up
PostScript Wrap-up
  • PostScript in a complex printer language that allows inline programming
  • PostScript is evolving into a language which can be used in high volume printing applications
pdf wrap up
PDF Wrap-up
  • PDF is optimized for online viewing and offers many features not available with printed paper.
  • PDF is changing …. PDF 1.3 was announced earlier this year.
what is xes
What is XES?
  • Xerox Escape Sequences, also called UDK for User Defined Keys
  • Proprietary Xerox text-based formatting for Xerox low-speed decentralized (departmental) printers
  • Usually ASCII
  • Obsolete - these printers have been “end-of-life’d” by Xerox
xes pieces
XES Pieces
  • Bitmapped font files are usually stored on the printer
  • Forms are usually defined inline
  • Bitmapped image and logo files are usually stored on the printer
  • Vector Graphics (Line Draw) may be defined inline
what creates xes
What Creates XES?
  • XES only has about 20 commands so it is usually hand coded or built by user-created programs
what do we do with xes
What Do We Do With XES?
  • Since XES printers have been “end-of-life’d” by Xerox, users will have to:
    • Convert applications generating XES to PCL or PostScript (usually), or
    • Acquire 3rd party transforms such as Xenos’ XES2PCL or XES2PS, or
    • Find someone willing to support these obsolete printers
xes wrap up
XES Wrap-up
  • XES is an obsolete Xerox format for low-speed printers
  • Most XES users are looking for a way to convert to less-costly PCL or PostScript printers
afp and xerox discussion lists
AFP and Xerox Discussion Lists
  • Discussion lists are for people interested in particular things to exchange information
  • Discussion lists communicate via e-mail to registered users, rather than public bulletin boards.
  • Xerox list-serve:
  • AFP list-serve:
additional sessions this week
Additional Sessions This Week
  • CAV 01 -A broad view of document standardsMarilyn WrightWED 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • FOC 21 - Moving your legacy documents to new media

Pat McGrew, EDPP

WED 7:15 AM - 8:15 AM

additional sessions this week94
Additional Sessions This Week
  • FOC 32- The EDPP certification process revealed

Stephen Wowelko, EDPP, Diana Hillman, EDPP

WED 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

  • INT 20- XML update - Where is XML going and how will it affect you? Bill McCalpin - EDPP

THU 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

additional sessions this week95
Additional Sessions This Week
  • FUN 06 - From hardcopy to electronic delivery: making the migrationStephen Poe, EDPP

WED 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

  • FUN 04 - Buzz word central

David Weinberger and Stephen Poe, EDPP

TUE 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (right now!)

additional sessions this week96
Additional Sessions This Week
  • KNO 07 - What knowledge management is and isn't

David Weinberger

THU 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

  • ORG 25 - Is the document dead?

Bill McCalpin, EDPP, and Bill McDaniel, EDPP

THU 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

  • ‘Kern’- graphic from IBM’s Font Object Content Architecture manual found at
  • Many data stream slides courtesy of Linda McDaniel, EDPP, Xenos Group
  • Gutenberg Bible graphic - found at
  • ‘A...History Of Printing’ (Japanese character for vigor) - found at
  • ‘Technology..20th Century’ (actually a SM102 Heidelberg press) - found at
  • History of Printing - Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • ‘Screw Press’ (actually the first stop-cylinder press) - Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • ‘Type’ - graphic from The Imperial Dictionary Of The English Language
  • ‘The Character’ (raster A) - from ‘In-House Publishing In A Mainframe Environment (McGrew/McDaniel)
  • ‘Character Anatomy’ - from ‘The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide To Style And Usage’
  • ‘The 9700’ (actually a 4090) - from a PC graphics package
  • ‘Chinese print shop’, portrait of Gutenberg, image of single page of manuscript, woodcut of a European print shop, and the outside of the Gutenberg Museum are all found at
  • All other graphics created by Bill McCalpin, EDPP, and Chris Halicki, EDPP
  • On the right, the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany
bill mccalpin edpp cdia mit lit
Bill McCalpin EDPP, CDIA, MIT, LIT

Director of Product Management

Xenos Group

3010 LBJ Freeway Suite 1500

Dallas, TX 75234

(972) 857-0776 (voice) (972) 857-0979 (fax)