Shady printing in cloudy weather

I don't usually blog about Android applications; but this one is interesting.

All I hear about printing on Android is "Cloud print" - mainly Google Cloud Print of course, but there are cloud-printing solutions too.

This "cloud print" is touted as driver-free, hassle-free solution. Never again you need to worry about looking for your printer driver discs. Never again you have to worry whether your printer will work with that new shiny OS that probably don't have driver for that old clunkers of yours. All you need to do is plug your printer to a computer that happens to be running Chrome web browser; or, if printer is already Cloud-ready, just plug it directly to the Internet and configure it with your account.

Then you can print from anywhere, from any device (that supports "cloud-print" of course). It's really that easy, amazing isn't it! Now you can finally print from your phone, to the printer under your desk, no matter what brand or model, using Cloud-print technology! Wow!! Breakthrough technology!! Save the world, now you can keep that old printer working !! Wahoo !!

But how do this Cloud-print actually works? How can it work without a driver? Does your computer and/or printer suddenly become so smart that it doesn't need a driver to talk to each other? Not so.

Cloud-print works by sending the print job (=that is, your documents: your bank statements, your tax reports, your company-confidential blueprints, for starters) to - aptly enough - the "cloud", to a bunch of undesignated servers that have the printer driver software for many printers (hopefully including yours) pre-installed. These servers take your print job, use the printer driver software to convert it to something that your printer can understand, and then send it back to your printer for actual printing. Nice. Apart from the obvious fact that no Internet == no printer, I'll leave it to your own pondering for other possible implications.

That's where this Lets Print Droid comes to the story. It enables me to print from my Android phone/tablet (when I really really need to) to the printer under my desk *directly*, without having to send my documents to halfway around the world first. It comes only with a limited set of printer drivers (mainly for Postscripts), but the beauty of it is this: for those printers that it doesn't support, all you need is a CUPS server that *can* drive your printer, and you're good to go. Well that CUPS server can be easily your Linux box (Fatdog64 and all versions of Puppy Linuxes comes with CUPS too, as does many other Linux and *BSD distros) - so if you can print with your Linux box, then you can print from your phone/tablet too.

Of course, if you really want to cloud print, the app also supports cloud print (of the Google variety) as well, for the last resort.

The app also has a companion app that enables direct PDF rendering on the phone itself (using the popular open-source mupdf renderer) so that you can print PDF files even if your printer doesn't speak PDF.

Now that's what printing should be. Printing is an embarrassingly local task that the idea of sending it to the "cloud" that I can have the convenience of printing from everywhere is too "shady" for me (pardon the pun). You can of course always find a scenario where remote-printing would be useful, but generally speaking there is not much point printing to a printer which is not physically reachable from where you are.

As a closing note. I just wish that that printer manufacturers continue to supply us with non-cloud version of their printers (and their drivers). Not all of their customers are happy with cloud-printing for the obvious reasons.

Note: I'm not affiliated with Blackspruce (author of the app), I'm just a happy user who would like to say thanks.

Posted on 28 Feb 2014, 2:55 - Categories: General
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Comments:

Posted on 8 Mar 2014, 7:21 by BlackSpruceSoftware
"Your Welcome"
I was wondering where the spike in installs came from. Thanks for the feedback.
BlackSpruce
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