Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Printing and the Palm OS-incoming waterloo

Recently, a defective Psion Revo made it into my hands. I could reanimate it for five minutes and was heavily impressed by its applications(Word even handled Styles). The most interesting feature was the printing support-built right into the OS.
At its time, IR capable printers were rare, thus uses were limited.
Lets now end the time travel. Nowadays, most handhelds have integrated bluetooth or even WLAN. It is very easy to connect to a printer(or a printer share) nowadays-and printing is one of the essential business operations. As handhelds begin to become notebook-replacements, users will want an easy, well-supported printing facility.
Currently, some developers already react to the trend and either gang up with print products that need to be purchased seperately(DocsToGo with Printboy,...) or integrate their own solution(RepliGo). Thus, users can print-if they really want to. However, some problems arise due to this plethora of systems. People wanting to print need to install, purchase and configure many different applications, leading to annoyance. Developers will need to consider the different printing utilities, and eventually redesign their print codes as print helpers get discontinued.
Now compare this to an integrated solution. Developers don't need to worry about selecting a printing solution, and users only need to configure one application. In addition, driver development can be controlled and regulated at a central location(only one knowledge center for manufacturers), leading to a better driver selection.
It may be more work for PalmSource, but it will pay out on the long run.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

PalmSource only supply the core PIM-Apps.

Why should the PalmOS include printer drivers?
How many notes, contacts, tasks or schedules do people print out in plain text, if they could have it in a nice format out of their PC some hours later? If it is urgent, why not send it via email, BT or even beam it?

How could PalmSource implement it?
Every program uses its own database-format. Palmsource would have to create an additional (to the already existing 3?) API for printing, which must be implemented in every program. The only way to avoid this would be, to use loop-back-beaming.

The only advantage of an integrated printer program is, that you won't have to buy another product. But you already have the same result for the Tungsten C, which has Printboy as Bonussoftware on CD.


12:55 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi Hardy,
you are indeed right about why PalmSource should not create another entirely new API-it should choose one of the three and improve+standardize it...
Like the situation is now, most PalmOS handhelds cannot print when coming out of the box-but most of them contain DocumentsToGo, where printing could really be useful. In addition, when the OS contains printing support, developers will be more motivated to support it...
Thanks for the comment
Tam Hanna

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN! The one solution that's good is terribly pricey for developers and for customers (the vendor will tell you it's consistent with the market - pfaw! - we presented the pricing we got to the customer - they told us that it wasn't worth it).

If not PalmSource, this would be a good open-source project.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

this is one of the problems that I tried to outline in my article. The developers create more expensive products because the printing helpers need to be purchased seperately..
BTW, seeing this in Open Source would be wonderful!

5:07 PM  

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