3 Replies Latest reply on Dec 4, 2016 5:31 PM by Scott Olswold

    Slow PowerPoint printing issue - long spooling time

    David Alexander Scout

      We have been closely watching our Pharos print queue while trying to solve a different problem (see Error releasing print job: Failed to render document, because of timeout ).

       

      While watching the queues, we finally caught a Pharos issue that has been plaguing us since we originally rolled Pharos out to our students - slow PowerPoint printing.  We opened a Pharos support ticket to help us fix this issue, but I also wanted to reach out to the Pharos community to see if anyone else has run into this issue.

       

      The behavior the end user sees is that their print job comes out one page a time with a long delay between pages.  In the screen shot below you can see the file size is large and the print job had been in the queue for six minutes.

       

      We think this has to do with a student printing multiple slides per page and the spooling process takes a long time to render the document.

       

      Has anyone else run into this, and if so, how were you able to solve it?

       

      Thanks,

      Dave

        • Re: Slow PowerPoint printing issue - long spooling time
          Scott Olswold Guide

          Shucks, Dave, that ain't nothin'.

           

          One of the sad truths about PowerPoint is that it has undergone very little improvement in its print processing capabilities since back in the days when it shipped with a Genicom driver to create (gulp!) 35mm slides. More to point, when you print a slide deck from PowerPoint you are rendering, as sad as it sounds, each slide, in color or monochrome depending on the setting in the Print dialog box, at the set resolution of the printer driver. I've gone through the math before in painstaking detail, but here's the quick back-of-the-napkin equation for color:

           

          (24 bits x ((Slide Width x Resolution) x (Slide Height) x Resolution))) x #Slides = Your PowerPoint spool file size

           

          So if my printer driver is set for 600dpi, slide dimensions are 10x7.5, and I have 10 slides:

           

          (24 bits x ((10 x 600) x (7.5 x 600))) x 10 = 6,480,000,000 bits, or 772.5MB.

           

          In the field (I was once a Systems Engineer for an EFI Fiery reseller) I've seen a PPT file consume upwards of 3GB in a spool file (I won't say why; let's just say that scanning images at 2400x2400 ppi (pixels per inch) isn't always wise). The only thing that you can do is set your driver resolution to something lower, but still visually pleasing. Historically, web offset press (even in the mostly-digital age) settled on 300 ppi for images because it was within the "twice your line screen" (line screen is the true measure for high-resolution printing) rule, when most offset presses function at 150 lines per inch. Your printer driver should support a "300 dpi" setting or similar. Elsewhere in the forum, I've discussed letting the print queue "reach out and touch" a physical printer so that it can auto-configure and give you better/more resolution options (like using HP's RET technology). I see that you are using the MobilePrint port in your screenshot, which makes a bit easier. But since resolution is a user-level setting in most drivers, you'll need to log into the PrintManagement.msc snap-in on the server as the SYSTEM user (use the PSExec tool from Microsoft to get here; this is a KB article, see MobilePrint print jobs do not print as configured (color mode, single-sided/double-sided). Once in, go to Properties > Advanced > Printing Defaults for the print queue and change it there.

           

          I hope the explanation as to "why" and the "how" to potentially reduce this nuisance are helpful.

           

          -Scott

            • Re: Slow PowerPoint printing issue - long spooling time
              David Alexander Scout

              Does installing Office on the print server help at all?

               

              This slow PowerPoint printing issue has the following impact:

              1) The experience sucks for the end user.  Students don't understand what's happening behind the scenes.  They just think the system and/or the printers suck because it takes 5+ minutes to print out a PowerPoint

              2) The slow printing ties up a printer until the job is complete

              3) The rendering process takes up server resources, which could cause slow system throughput for all students printing via Pharos

               

              It seems like MyPrintCenter shouldn't allow you to upload PowerPoints or should at least come with a warning pop-up that says, "Are you sure you want to stand around for up to 10 minutes waiting for your PowerPoint to print?".

               

              I'd like to know if other schools are seeing this issue, and if so, how they are tackling this problem.

               

              Dave

                • Re: Slow PowerPoint printing issue - long spooling time
                  Scott Olswold Guide

                  Dave,

                   

                  Installing PowerPoint on a server hosting the MobilePrint Worker can help some. In my experience, the trials that are experienced with PowerPoint printing are all user-driven...they use graphics that are too big (a lot of scaling down to make them fit the slide), backgrounds that take a lot of effort to duplicate in print, or fonts that must be rendered as images. One of the slickest ways to get PPT out of the mix is to use some free PDF driver to "print" to PDF file and then upload the PDF file. Most of the free PDF drivers available allow you to downsample images (take a 600 ppi image and knock it down to 200 ppi) and also embed/include fonts.

                   

                  You say pages spit out of the printer at a glacial speed. This means that it is chewing on quite a lot of data (it still has the job of converting the PCL or PostScript into an array of laser dots). Reducing the overall resolution of things sounds to me to be the greatest salve to your problem.

                   

                  -Scott