Document Print and Output Formats Supported by DocPath

Choose your output format... PCL, PostScript, AFP, Epson, Zebra, TEC, GDI, MATRIX,

Printronix, Metacode, PDF,  QMF, RTF, HTML ...

Apart from providing multiple choices of standard data input formats such as Plain Text, SAP-RDI, Tag Mode, FCFC and XML, DocPath also allows you to choose among a wide range of the most commonly used document print and output formats. Following you will find the output formats grouped and briefly explained by "output print formats" and "output generation formats".

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Document Output PRINT formats

A document output print format is represented by a data stream that is sent directly to the printer so that it can be interpreted by the output device without any previous conversion process. It is already written in the "language" the printer understands.

These formats are usually used when there is no need to generate an intermediate document in electronic format that is stored or viewed by the user, but the document will be printed directly, as speed is an important factor too.

PCL, PostScript, AFP, Epson, Zebra, TEC, GDI, MATRIX, XEROX Metacode, and Printronix are supported by DocPath.

Following is a brief description of each of the document output print formats:

AFP : IBM Transactional Data Format

Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) is a document and information presentation architecture that was originally designed and developed by IBM. Its main features are: data integrity, resource management and high speed printing.

The AFP architecture consists of a number of sub-architectures that define the properties of texts (PTOCA), fonts (FOCA), graphics (GOCA), images (IOCA), colors (CMOCA) and barcodes (BCOCA).

AFP is primarily used in large enterprises and is considered to be a cornerstone for the high volume printing industry. The architecture is mainly employed in financial and insurance sectors and governmental financial and banking institutions.

DocPath provides professional users with the required tools for the design and generation of AFPDS and OGL/PPFA format documents.

EPL2: Eltron Programming Language II

Eltron Programming Language 2 (EPL2), a page description language, is designed to assemble all the elements of the label prior to printing. This increases the speed of the printing process and makes EPL2 an ideal language for labelling and bar code requirements.

DocPath allows users to generate labels for printers that use Eltron Programming Language II (EPLII). More recent printers also support the Zebra Programming Language(ZPL). EPL can be used for Zebra printers too and is used frequently by Zebra's desktop bar code printers.

GDI: Graphics Device Interface

The Microsoft® Windows® Graphics Device Interface (GDI) enables applications to use graphics and formatted text on both the video display and the printer. Windows-based applications do not access the graphics hardware directly. Instead, GDI interacts with device drivers on behalf of applications.

One important capability of GDI over more direct methods of accessing the hardware is its scaling capabilities, and abstraction of target devices. Using GDI, it is very easy to draw on multiple printer devices, and expect proper output for each of them.

Using the DocPath GDI option generates graphic device independent outputs. It indicates that the output will be submitted to the printer using the printer driver installed in the Operating System.

IGP/PGL : Intelligent Graphics Printing

Intelligent Graphics Printing (IGP) is a special printer language which is used by Printronix printing systems. IGP allows you to create and store forms, generate logos, bar codes, expanded characters, and create other graphics.

The DocPath components for label printers allow users to generate labels for those printers that use the Intelligent Graphics Printing software for the Printronix Graphics Language (IGP/PGL).

Matrix: (Line) Printer

A line matrix printer is a computer printer that is a compromise between a line printer and a dot matrix printer. It prints a page-wide line of dots and builds the line of text by printing lines of dots. Letters are produced out of a dot matrix, and therefore, varied fonts and arbitrary graphics can be produced. Because the printing involves mechanical pressure, these printers can create carbon and carbonless copies.

Line printers are often used for printing box labels as well as invoices and reports. When implemented as impact printers, they can be the least expensive to operate, per page.

DocPath allows users to generate output for high speed printers, capable of printing an entire line at one time.

TEC Printer Command Language (TPCL)

Using TEC bar code printers you can issue various labels for various applications such as shipping labels, Item labels, Container labels, Bar code labels, Ticket, and Industry standard labels (UCC/EAN-128, UCC/EAN-13, etc.).

The DocPath components for label printers allow users to generate labels for those printers that use the Printer Command Language (TPCL).

PCL: Printing Control/Command Language

Also sometimes called "Printing Control Language, PCL is better described as a Page Description Language (PDL). The Printer Control Language (PCL) was created in the 1980s by Hewlett-Packard as a simpler, faster and less expensive alternative to PostScript-based laser printers.

Although PCL has fewer features than PostScript, its simplicity and speed makes it the first choice for most business documents and network printing environments. As Hewlett-Packard decided to create PCL as an open and non proprietary page description language, it very soon became an industry standard used world wide.

The PCL files contain the printer commands and the HP printers decode those commands directly. No other intermediate conversion is required. You can store the PCL file and send it directly to any PCL compliant printer for printing. Today PCL print outputs are supported by a wide variety of printer manufacturers.


Like PCL, PostScript it is a Page Description Language (PDL). The concepts of PostScript (PS) language were already set in 1976, but it was not until 1982 that the language evolved into the PostScript language as such (as a trademark of Adobe systems), which went on the market in 1984.

PostScript (PS) language files provide excellent facilities for managing texts and graphics. The ease, speed and quality, together with the widespread adoption, made PostScript the language of choice and de facto standard for graphical output for printing applications. Although today it is being more frequently substituted by one of its descendants, the Portable Document Format (PDF), PostScript laser printer can significantly reduce the CPU workload involved in printing documents by transferring the work of rendering PostScript images from the computer to the printer.

ZPL2: Zebra Programming Language II

ZPL is one of three programming languages used by Zebra’s high performance, industrial & commercial, RFID, print engines, desktop and mobile printers.

DocPath generates labels for printers that use Zebra Programming Language II (ZPLII).

XEROX Metacode

XEROX metacode is the native format of Xerox LPS (Laser Printing System) printer and represents a defined number of reserved character codes that are formatting instructions directly understood by the printer. As a data stream containing embedded metacodes is sent to the printer, no intermediate conversion needs to takes place and, printing forms is much faster when output is generated for Xerox LPS printers.

DocPath transforms the document/form design into FDL commands (Forms Description Language). The resulting file will be an FSL (Forms Source Library) containing the FDL commands required for definition of page size and non-variable form design elements. In addition, an IMG file will be generated for each image on the page.

Document output GENERATION formats

In contrast, when talking about document output generation formats, we refer to commonly used document formats which are not directly printed, but stored as human readable documents in a specific digital format.

This format is displayed on the screen and the document can also be edited by the user if the correct, corresponding application is used, but can not be interpreted by the printer as-is. It is the underlying printer driver software, part of the application that converts the document to the basic print output format. A known example is the Portable Document Format (PDF), originally created by Adobe Systems, but today there are multiple software programs available that are capable of generating and reading this format.

PDF, QMF, RTF and HTML are the formats for documents generation supported by DocPath.

Right, a brief description of each of the document output generation formats:

HTML: HyperText Markup Language

HTML is a well known tagged markup language used world wide for creation of internet and intranet pages. HTML is the standard programming language for presenting and formatting text based documents in an Internet environment. It also allows for embedding images, videos and scripting languages, such as Java Script. Navigation between pages within a site or to other websites is achieved through hyperlinks. Internet browser programs like Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox render the code and present the final result to the end-user when downloading the web pages from the web servers to the users desktop.

DocPath generates files with HTML format. No HTML programming skills are required and HTML pages can be generated from existing DocPath forms and documents. The Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) templates provided are completely customizable and adaptable to the user's needs.

HTML5: Latest HyperText Markup Language

HTML5 is the latest hypertext markup language for Web sites developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Today, all Web browsers support HTML5 technology and features, which means that it is accessible to any type of company.

DocPath´s HTML5 Output allows companies to generate the same documents as the ones they are already using, but in a format that can be displayed via any browser and with the same quality as the corresponding PDF or printed format. This means that these documents can now be attached to emails or sent over an organization´s Intranet and viewed without the need of a PDF viewer. This turns HTML5 into an ideal format for document display on a wide variety of mobile devices.

PDF : Portable Document Format

As the name, "Portable Document Format" suggests, the PDF format was created by Adobe Systems in 1993 to ease portability and exchange of documents independently of the underlying hardware, operating systems or application software. PDF was officially published as an open standard (ISO 32000-1:2008) on July 1, 2008.

DocPath is able to generate Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), while preserving document integrity and giving users flexibility when sharing their documents in this standard output format. PDF is the most used document format for distribution and exchange of human readable documents.

During document generation, diverse options can be set. Examples are: creating a compressed/uncompressed PDF, encryption and embedding a user password or the possibility of limiting document operations to printing, modification, copying and adding text notes. Additionally, PKCS#12 compliant certificates for digital signatures and the corresponding password can be added to the PDF at generation time.

Additionally, DocPath allows the generation of output files which are compliant with the PDF/A (PDF/Archive) format. PDF/A is a standard which describes how to generate PDF files with an electronic document file format that is used for long-term preservation and archiving of documents. This output format will ensure that the documents can be retrieved and rendered with a consistent and predictable result in the future. PDF/A is a restricted subset of PDF, and was originally designed for the Archive needs of governments, newspapers, corporations, libraries, etc. In order to achieve the desired appearance reliability some of the restrictions that were considered are:

  • Prohibition of External files, non-embedded fonts, etc.
  • Restricted programming. E.g. No Java Script.
  • Some restrictions on annotations.
  • etc.

PDF/A-1 is part one of this standard and is described in ISO 19005-1:2005(E). PDF/A-2 is still "work in progress".

RTF : Rich Text Format

The Rich Text Format (RTF) output format is intended as a universal standard for exchanging documents between different programs and word processors. It was first defined by Microsoft in 1987 to allow interchange documents across different computer platforms. Although still owned by Microsoft, RTF is a free document file format that simplifies the exchange of document files between different processors, computer operating systems or program versions.

QMF : DocPath proprietary data output format

This DocPath proprietary data output format generates highly compressed electronic documents that maintain all the characteristics of any document (much like a PDF) generated by the DocPath DocProcessor and can be viewed and/or printed by using the DocPath DocViewer. This format facilitates document distribution via Internet/Intranet environments as well as document storage in data bases with the DocPath Archiver.

During document generation various options like creating a compressed/uncompressed document, embedding the user password, copying, etc. can be set.


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