UniPrint - "Universal" Network Printer Driver

for RISC OS/Windows Computers and VirtualAcorn


unictrl.png - 8Kb For some years now, we have been developing and selling our UniPrint software (which has now evolved beyond just printing, and is sometimes known as UniServer). Going beyond its original printing goal, the software is, at heart, designed to take the strengths of Windows and deliver them neatly present to RISC OS users. Now, whilst some might argue whether Windows has any strengths at all (!), its very nature as the dominant platform ensures that almost every peripheral comes, first and foremost, with drivers for Windows. Similarly, almost any kind of file can be handled by Windows (with suitable software), and every website (given a suitable browser). Our software delivers those benefits to RISC OS users, essentially solving many of the compatibility issues we face. It sounds a lofty claim, but as our many users will testify, UniPrint just works!

Full v4 Price: £79

Older or limited versions may be available for lower prices

Upgrades
From v3 - £33.50
From v2 Deluxe - £43.50
From v1/UPVA - £53.50
Includes new CD & manuals

Please add £2 P&P for Europe/Overseas.

Visa, MasterCard, Switch & Delta payments accepted

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  The software works for both VirtualAcorn users, and users with dedicated RISC OS machines on a network. With the release of UniPrint 4, the software has grown into a more all-encompassing solution for bringing the capabilities of Windows systems under the control of RISC OS users. The window below shows the the functions available at the time of writing, although even more are under development!

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Note that for UniPrint 4, the terms UniPrint and UniServer are interchangeable. The actual software is known as UniServer internally (since it does so much more than printing), but people refer to it as UniPrint, so we have kept the recognizable brand name!

Requirements for VirtualAcorn use

  • Any version of of VirtualRPC (OS4, Adjust, SE / SA) or VirtualA5000 (unsupported)
  • 256Mb of system RAM or more (1Gb recommended for Win Vista+)
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Win 7
Note that versions of UniPrint prior to v3 pre-date (ie. don't support) the SA editions of VA, as well as Windows Vista / Win 7, so watch out if you're trying to save a bit with an older version - make sure it meets your needs!

Requirements for Network use

  • Any RISC OS 3.1 or higher computer with a network card.
  • Yes, that includes Iyonix, A9 and RiscStation, as well as RiscPCs etc.
  • Network or Hard Drive System
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Win7 PC on the same network as the RISC OS machine

Capabilities

So, you're asking yourself - what does the software actually do? Will it allow me to use *my* peripherals, and what sort of results will I get? This is the section for you! The features of each part are explained below:

UniPrint

We can't start off talking about the features of the software without discussing the original component, and arguably the most-used portion of the software - UniPrint. If you were to ask a RISC OS user what the holy grail of printing was, the chances are he'd say "to be able to print at a decent quality to any kind of printer". This would probably be followed by references to flying pigs. Well, those pigs just grew wings!

How does it work? Well, the system relies on a printer being connected to a machine running Windows (note that we have had some success running it on Macs via Darwine and WineBottler). The PC must have a working driver for the printer installed, but since every printer ships with a Windows driver, this isn't a problem. The RISC OS machine then prints to the PC, which then prints out the job natively, using the full range of quality settings available through the Windows driver.

printer list   properties

Over the years we have tested hundreds of printers, ranging from cheap £30 inkjets, all-in-one printer/scanner combi devices, more expensive photo printers, right up to giant A3 colour lasers and the like. UniPrint has worked flawlessly, although we'd hazard a guess that old dot-matrix printers might not be suitable!

You can even use UniPrint to send faxes! Most modern version of Windows come with built-in fax software which works as a printer-driver, so as long as you have a modem, you can send faxes straight away. Just UniPrint to that printer-driver, and away you go!

Clearly the beauty of the system is that you can buy a printer that meets your needs, not the restrictions of the RISC OS printing system. And, having bought the printer, you can rest assured that its features work from RISC OS. In the screenshot above, you'll see a reference to a Samsung colour printer, which has duplex capabilities (double sided printing). We regularly use this to print from our favourite RISC OS design apps (Impression and Ovation Pro), printing booklets, manuals, and publicity.

Almost every RISC OS application will work with UniPrint (really the only requirement is to support the standard RISC OS printing system). That means Impression, Ovation, Artworks, Draw, Paint, Sibelius, EasiWriter, PhotoDesk and hundreds (thousands?) more. We even support printing from your own BASIC programs, and text-editors.

Another aspect of UniPrint which deserves mention is the quality. One of the areas where RISC OS struggles is in driving printers to the best quality. This is because each printer will tend to use its own combination of inks/toners and dither/processing. Not to mention resolution! Because Windows does the printing, with the manufacturer's drivers, all RISC OS has to do is provide an accurate rendition of the page. That it *can* do! This means that you'll be able to do anything from quick, draft printing, up to super-quality photos.

Speed... UniPrint is often faster than any RISC OS driver you might have for a printer, because it passes the hard work over to Windows. Typically, Windows machines have much faster processors than RISC OS (they need to, given the demands of Windows, and its apps!) so our software makes use of that by farming the hard work out. All RISC OS has to do is tell it what it needs printing.

For historical reference, here are the UniPrint and UniPrint 2 press releases.

UniScan

UniScan builds on the success of UniPrint, allowing RISC OS users to hook into a wide variety of Windows-compatible scanners. By using Microsoft's official Windows Imaging Architecture (WIA) we are able to drive any scanner conforming to the standards and protocols laid down in 2000 and XP. Note that in v4, we also support Vista and Win7.

Most modern scanners (which tend to be USB-based) conform to these WIA standards, either "out of the box", or in some cases by downloading the latest WIA driver from the internet. Because WIA is a simple, easy standard, most cheaper scanners will use WIA from the get-go, so you won't need to buy expensive scanning equipment to use UniScan!

You can check if your scanner is UniScan compatible by opening My Computer, and seeing if the scanner is listed there (along with your hard drive and CD drive). This isn't a categorical test, but its easy to do. Another test is to try scanning via the File menu in MS Paint, as that *only* supports WIA. By all means contact your favourite scanner manufacturer and check they support the WIA standard, but since it is an official part of Windows XP onwards the answer should be "yes". We have tested with affordable scanners from Mustek, Canon, HP etc. WIA is the method that Microsoft's own applications such as MS-Paint (the built-in painting program) scan images, so don't fear!

scan window

UniScan follow's UniPrint's design by integrating easily into RISC OS. The supplied scanning program allows you to scan a variety of preset page sizes, or pick your own area. Colour depths of 1bpp (b/w), 256 grays, and 24bpp full colour are supported, and you can adjust image settings (eg. brightness, contrast) to suit. The resulting scan appears as a standard sprite, ready to be dragged into your favourite DTP or graphics program.

You can preview the scan, and also crop the image to only scan the section you require. The software will remember your selection, which makes it easy to scan (for example) a series of photos.

The software also supports photocopying, by combining UniPrint and UniScan functionality together! With so many printer/scanner/copier devices on the market now, UniScan makes the ideal partner for UniPrint, allowing you to take advantage of all the facilities offered by your multifunction device.

UniLaunch

UniLaunch consists of two portions - file launching and URL launching:

Programs such as Messenger Pro (and others, including non-R-Comp software), include native support for UniLaunch. For example, in MPro you can right click a link in an email to automatically open it with a Windows web browser. This way we are able to blend the use of RISC OS apps with Windows apps, for maximum security and productivity!

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UniPrint 4 makes a number of improvements to UniLaunch. Not only is the feature now part of the main UniControl software, but it also provides fine control (via your RISC OS desktop) over exactly what is and isn't launched by the software. We've improved the mechanics of the system too, including "in place" launching for VirtualAcorn users (ie. the file gets launched directly from the VA section of your hard drive). This makes working on the same files in both Windows and RISC OS a doddle.

People have come up with many creative uses of this feature by thinking "outside the box". For example, one user reported that he set up playlists for his music as files on his RISC OS machine, and just double-clicked them to change the music playing on his PC (acting like a jukebox). We have also seen it used to burn CDs by sending ISO CD images straight through!

UniClip

UniClip provides automatic, two-way sharing of information between RISC OS and Windows machines, or any combination thereof. That means that you can, literally, press Ctrl-C to copy a selection in a RISC OS application, and ctrl-V to paste into a Windows app! The software works both ways, and also allows drag'n'drop operation under RISC OS for applications which don't support the standard clipboard mechanics. We've tested with a wide variety of applications such as Impression, EasiWriter, Messenger Pro, DataPower, Ovation Pro, Edit/Zap/StrongEd, WebsterXL, Netsurf and many more.

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An example use (one of many) might be if you're viewing a webpage in Windows, and find some text relevant to what you're doing on RISC OS. Just highlight the text, press Ctrl-C, then go into RISC OS and Ctrl-V (or drag'n'drop). It is also worth remembering that Windows (and some versions of RISC OS) supports cut'n'paste in any text icon, too. This means that any writable field can have its contents copied backwards and forwards. An example might be the URL bar of your web browser - you could copy a link straight into an email that you're writing on RISC OS!

UniCom

UniCom provides remote access to any command on the Windows (or a RISC OS) machine. It is a very powerful tool, but also one which some users may never need. Essentially you are presented with a command line, and can issue commands to the remote machine. The software feeds back any results to you. You could use it to run programs on the remote machine, or alter the sharing of files or discs, or search for information.


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