GX represents a major change in the way that printing is done on the Macintosh. It completely changes the way the user interacts with print jobs on the Macintosh. Among the changes, it eliminates the PrintMonitor application, and does away with repeated trips to the Chooser. It offers an extensible architecture for printing with the addition of printing extensions, adds the ability to do paper-matching, multiple page formats within a document as well as a new portable document format.
The Desktop Printer
QuickDraw GX offers a completely new way to print with an interface that is very intuitive. Before QuickDraw GX, you had to make a trip to the Chooser every time you changed output devices, so that the computer would know where to send the print job. With QuickDraw GX, you need only visit the Chooser once for each printer you plan to use. Afterwards, changing printers from within an application that supports GX printing is as simple as clicking on a pop-up menu within that application's print dialog box.
To use a printer, you first create a printer icon on the desktop. You do so by opening the Chooser, select a printer as you usually would, then click Create. You may create as many desktop printers as you like (for each one you plan to connect to). However Apple recommends that you not create more than 5 desktop printers at a time. Each printer icon takes more memory, and this may cause problems if you are in a low memory situation.
The QuickDraw GX printing architecture allows you to access not only traditional network printer printers, but inkjet printers and any other output devices that support QuickDraw GX, including the ability to share fax modems for fax communications.
In a non-GX aware application (eg: MacWrite Pro 1.5), the chosen printer will automatically default to the printer designated as "Default Printer" on the desktop. If you have more than one printing device on your desktop, make sure to make the device you want to print to the "default" device before selecting "Print" in you application. With GX-aware applications, all desktop printers are available from the Print dialog box.
The Printing menu
You set preferences for printer icons by selecting them in the Finder. At that point, a new menu titled "Printing" will appear to the right of the "Special" menu. With the Printing menu, you can determine a default printer. For each printer icon, you can determine the order of GX printing extensions, schedule print-jobs, the input trays, the quality of the print job, and much more. These settings become the default setting for printing from that printer icon. You will print with these settings unless you override them in your application's Print dialog box.
Paper types and paper matching
In the Printing menu there is an option called Input Trays. You tell GX what kind of paper is normally in the printing tray(s) of your printer.
One of the new features of QuickDraw GX is the use of paper types (eg: envelopes and personalized letterhead). You can create paper types with PaperType Editor. After you define a custom paper type, you may use it in any application, whether or not the application directly supports QuickDraw GX.
When using QuickDraw GX-compatible applications, GX offers the possibility of using multiple paper types in the same document. You may format the first page of the document in one size, the next can be another, and the third one may be completely different, and so on.
The two features of paper matching and paper types make for a powerful combination, especially when your printer has more than one input tray. When you print, QuickDraw GX will take care of sending the right document size to the right input tray. This is called paper-matching and for it to work right, you must remember to format your document before printing it (ie: the page setup command). Should you attempt to send a formatted document to an input tray of a different type, GX will alert you to the conflict.
QuickDraw GX offers an extensible print architecture with printing extensions. These add different functionalities to the print process. These include the ability to add watermarks to documents, N-Up printing, cover pages, change the print order of pages within a document, etc. Some print extensions allow you to set default values for a desktop printer (from the Printing menu) while others are available only from the print dialog box (as options in the printing dialog box).
Improved print job management
With QuickDraw GX comes the disappearance of the Print Monitor. Printing becomes much more easier to manage. The desktop printer icon becomes the center for print-job management. When you double-click on it, it indicates the status of the print-job (number of pages, font downloading, user, etc.). The icon itself changes to reflect the status of the printer (by showing icons within the printer icon (paper symbol, alert symbol, etc.)) like whether it is printing, whether it is out of paper, PostScript error, etc.
You can put a job on hold directly in the printer icon. If you double-click on an item in the print queue, it will open up into Simpletext. You can also stop, or put a job on hold by dragging the print job put of the printer queue onto the desktop. You may restart a print job from the page of your choice, so that you no longer have to print them all over again. You can redirect a print job by dragging the file from one printer icon to another. With a QuickDraw GX-printing application, you may print a document by dragging it over the printer icon of your choice. GX will open the application and then print out the document.
New Print dialog box
QuickDraw GX also modifies the appearance of the Printing Dialog box from within each application that supports it. On the left-hand side of the dialog box you see different icons (click on the "More" button if you don't see them). Each one refers to a printing extension, and each one allows you to set different possibilities for the print job, such as print time , paper matching, N-Up printing, etc. Some GX-compatible applications also offer their own proprietary options from within the Print dialog box (eg : WordPerfect 3.1, Word 6.0)
Portable Digital Documents
QuickDraw GX offers the ability to create portable documents, called PDDs or Portable Digital Documents. These are somewhat like Adobe's Acrobat "pdf" format. You create a PDD with PDD Maker GX, a chooser extension that creates a desktop printer icon on the desktop. You "print" to the PDD maker just like you would a regular printer, but instead of printing out on paper, you generate a new file on the desktop, a PDD.
With PDDs, you can give a document to a person (who has GX installed too) and they can view the document without needing the original application nor the fonts that created it. PDDs can be viewed with SimpleText, while the PDD maker can embed the original fonts in the the PDD document. You may also print the contents of a PDD -- just drag the PDD onto a desktop printer. Pixar's Typestry 2.1.1 allows you to import PDDs just as you would an EPS file, allowing you then to perform things like extrude and other special effects on the contents of the PDD file.
More GX Printing info
There is an excellent guide to QuickDraw GX printing by Simon Lawson of the U.K. Entitled "The Online Guide to QuickDraw GX", this guide in Portable Digital Document (PDD) format leads you through the steps of setting up and configuring Desktop printers. With lots of screenshots, it is very well done. You may download the GX Guide by ftp.