Output Manager Concepts

Output Manager is a complex application with numerous features targeted at increased efficiency in managing output. This section covers the core concepts of the system.

Sources

Documents are received into Output Manager via sources. These sources can be created, configured, and monitored by administrators using the Output Manager Console. Sources can be organized into source groups, which allow for easier monitoring from the Output Manager Console. The following table lists the source types supported by Output Manager.

Table 1. Source types
AutoStore Output Manager servers
Email Socket
FTP TCP/IP NJE
IPP WCF API
LPD Web Upload
Mobile Server WebSphere MQ
NetWeaver Windows queue
Network folders  

Destinations

Documents are sent from Output Manager to destinations. These can be printers or other devices, as shown in the following table. Destinations can be created, configured, and monitored by administrators using the Output Manager Console.

Destinations can be organized into destination groups, which allow for easier monitoring from the Output Manager Console. These destination groups also play an important role in configuring functions such as failover printing, load balancing, and print splitting.

Table 2. Destination types
AutoStore Network folders
Email Output Manager servers
Fiery Device PRISMAProduction
FTP SharePoint
IPDS Socket
IPP WebSphere MQ
JDF/JMF Windows queues
LPR  
Printer families
The concept of printer families is used in Output Manager to configure commands for print languages and map them to destinations based on their capabilities.
SNMP devices
Modern printers can provide information about their status and capabilities via SNMP. Output Manager uses SNMP to both discover and monitor printers. Once discovered, administrators can create destinations associated with these physical devices.

Documents

The main purpose of Output Manager is to manage the flow of documents. The concept of the document is therefore present in virtually all areas of the product.

Document properties
Every document in Output Manager has metadata associated with it. This can range from obvious items like document name and type, to finishing options like stapling and binding. All of these are called document properties. Some of the properties are editable, while others are shown only for informational and reporting purposes. When setting up Output Manager, administrators configure which document properties are active, their display names, and their default initial values.
Active documents
Documents coming into Output Manager are considered Active, until they are either printed or deleted.
Retained documents
Once a document is printed or deleted, it is retained. Retained documents can be easily restored to the Active status from one of Output Manager’s various user interfaces. There are global and document specific settings that govern whether a document is retained or not.
Document library
This destination is intended for long-term document storage and web presentation purposes. The Library application is similar to the Documents application because it has a folder structure that you can modify for better organization and queries for finding documents. The documents are put in the library folder when they are routed to the Document Library destination.
Document folders
Documents can be organized into document folders. These folders govern the security rights that users and user groups have over documents.
Document queries
Document queries are used to quickly locate documents based on their properties. Queries can be run ad hoc or saved for future use.
Routing of documents
There are three ways to route documents from a source to a destination:
  • Include a default destination in the source configuration.
  • Create a business rule to route to a destination.
  • Manually route the document from one of Output Manager’s user interfaces.
Document transformations
Output Manager supports a variety of document types, such as PCL, PS, PDF, Text, TIFF, JPG, PGN, AFP, IPDS, LCDS, and so on. The system also supports transforming documents between these print description languages (PDL).
Document re-engineering
There are times when customers want to add or remove information from documents without making changes to the application that generates the document. Examples include adding barcodes, OMR marks, logos, and so on. Similarly, bundling and splitting of documents is sometimes desired. Output Manager includes broad support for all these actions.
Package
Output Manager uses a package to describe a collection of documents. In most cases, there is only one document in a package. You can think of packages as documents. Packages are used to group multiple documents together to be sent to a destination as a single unit. A package can be created or modified using Business or Ad Hoc Rules. You can select documents that you want to add or remove from packages by selecting Package Manager from the document context menu.

Output processes

Output Manager includes the powerful concept of output processes. These processes can be associated with either destinations or documents. They represent a predefined set of actions which would impact a document as it is being sent to a destination. Examples include search and replace, setting finishing options, and inserting overlays.

The output Process Designer is a utility included in the Output Manager Console that is used by administrators to design Output Processes. The visual flowchart style designer makes it easy and intuitive to create complex, powerful processes.

File stores

Output Manager’s architecture includes a database which only stores document properties. The actual files are stored in network folders, called file stores. Administrators can define multiple file stores, and configure which documents go into which file stores.

Security

Security control is a central component of Output Manager. Granular rights can be assigned to users and user groups for every major area of the system: destinations, sources, documents, administration, and user interfaces. These rights control both visibility and which actions can be performed. The use of inheritance throughout the product greatly simplifies the process of setting up security.

Failover profiles

In an ideal world, destinations are always ready to receive documents. In the real world, at times printers or other devices are inaccessible. Output Manager includes failover profiles, which allow administrators to specify what should happen to documents in such cases. Included in the failover profiles is the ability to pick alternate destinations where the documents can be routed.

Business rules

Output Manager is designed to operate unattended. It is a system geared towards automation of document processes. Business rules represent the main interface for managing and configuring these automatic processes. Administrators can create rules which include conditions and actions. Conditions have to be true in order for the rule to affect the document. Actions impact documents in a variety of ways. Examples include routing to destinations, transforming to other print languages, assigning to document folders, editing document properties, and so on.

Ad Hoc Rules

Ad Hoc Rules are run on user-selected documents that already exist in Output Manager. You can manually initiate the rules or you can schedule them to run periodically using the Schedule Manager. Examples of ad hoc actions that may be in an ad hoc rule include create a package of documents, merge documents in to a package, set document states, and assign documents to a document folder.

Alert rules

Alert rules allow administrators to configure advanced alert options for when certain events happen. This is particularly useful for monitoring printer states. Through alert rules, support personnel can be proactively informed when printers have conditions that could prevent end user printing.

Billing accounts

Output Manager offers complete flexibility in configuring billing accounts. These accounts can be associated with documents. The association can occur automatically based on document properties, or manually based on input from users. Reports can then present a complete picture of total print output by billing account.

Costing

Output Manager sources and destinations can have per page costs associated with them. A cost can be assigned to every document coming in and going out of Output Manager. This cost can be based on basic document properties such as color versus black and white, or more advanced properties such as media type and finishing options.

Quota management profiles

Reporting, costing, and billing accounts can provide a complete picture of printing costs. Quota management profiles are used to take this one step further and actually modify user behavior. These profiles can be configured to set up restrictions based on the type of document. Examples include disallowing color printing, requiring documents to be duplex, disabling print from certain applications, and so on.

User balances

In addition to quota management profiles, users can be assigned balances. For example, all users in a particular department could be assigned a $50 print allowance for the month. Once reached, any print from the respective users is disallowed. Administrators have full control over setting up balance amounts and refresh periods.

Messages

Output Manager posts messages whenever an event takes place. These messages are viewable using the Message Console included in the Output Manager Console. Administrators can monitor messages in order to ensure trouble free operation of the system.