IPDS - AFP Printing Overview

In 1984 IBM created a set of standards known as Systems Application Architecture (SAA). SAA was created to give programmers and system designers an easier way to link data applications with any IBM platform. Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS) is the host-to-printer data stream used by SAA for Advanced Function Printing (AFP).

IPDS provides the following advantages:

  • An interface for identifying, monitoring, and controlling all-points-addressable (APA) printers
  • The presentation of pages with combinations of various data types including text, vector graphics, images, and bar codes
  • The merging of different data types, often produced by independent applications, at print time
  • Two-way printer communication that provides detailed exception reporting and allows IPDS to adapt to specific printer resources and to deal with errors in real time.

Advanced Function Printing (AFP) Background

ExcelliPrint preserves the advantages of IPDS, including two-way communication and complex printing abilities, but frees the user from purchasing and maintaining costly IPDS printing environments. With print-to-file and Windows printer capabilities, ExcelliPrint bridges the gap between advanced printing and output device choice.

Also developed by IBM, AFP is a print management architecture that uses IPDS to interact with printers. Unlike IPDS, which is device-dependent, AFP is device-independent and object-oriented. AFP uses the Mixed Object Document Content Architecture (MO:DCA) to define a document's presentation. MO:DCA allows various data types, including text, images, graphics, and bar codes, to be incorporated into the final print job.

If you are receiving straight AFP files (not via IPDS), please visit IHS Systems for AFP to PDF conversion.

When a job is ready for printing, AFP incorporates the MO:DCA elements and then the AFP data stream is converted into an IPDS data stream by the Print Service Facility (PSF) - the IBM software product that drives IPDS printers. Even though the AFP data stream is device-independent, it becomes device-dependent when converted to IPDS. ExcelliPrint supports AFP to PDF.