PDF Printer

Most virtual PDF printers in Windows are based on Ghostscript software and PostScript driver. By the means of PostScript a virtual printer prints page in PostScript format and only then converts it into PDF with Ghostscript.

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You can print a test page with any virtual printer same as with physical. If it has a writing PSCRIPT5, that means that the printer is based on PostScript driver, so it uses conversion from PostScript to PDF in order to get the final PDF.

At first glance it seems to be a good choice, but as a matter of fact there are severe disadvantages in the use of PostScript driver for virtual PDF printer.

At first it’s age. Wine gets better with time, but unfortunately software doesn’t. PostScript driver for Windows had been developed about a decade ago, but there were no deep changes since then. Hence the issues with support of Eastern languages and original fonts, unreasonably long time of work of programs based on it etc. Even Adobe driver has these problems, not to mention other freeware and shareware printers, which use Ghostscript for conversion.

Another problem is PostScript language itself. It was developed for print publishers, thereby it has a set of possibilities which doesn’t meet the requirements imposed for printers.

One of the biggest disadvantages of such approach is a fact that PostScript can only save vector fonts, while virtual printer tries to convert them into True Type format. Also a user should remember, that PostScript is interpreted language, and any interpretation brings discrepancies. This causes a lot of errors when converting PostScript to PDF, because of what PDF files are read and displayed by different programs different ways, and this conflicts with the idea of the PDF itself. The format was designed for document flow and technical documentation, and in theory PDF files must look the same way on any system.

Situations when PostScript possibilities are wider than of the conversion software is especially conflict, because it takes an interpreter for computer language, which also should be able to create PDF files. Isn’t that too much complexity for a virtual printer? Just the Ghostscript installer’s size is more than 12 MB.

Against this background, it seems reasonable to use programs for PDF printing not based on PostScript and its conversion.

XPS format, developed in Redmond, is a good alternative. In a point of fact, XPS is an extension for XML format, and it was designed exclusively for document flow. So, XPS was used as a base for printer driver.

XPS driver uses default TrueType Windows fonts (unlike PostScript). Since the driver was developed by Microsoft, it can be used to achieve faster application response, faster and higher quality print of complex graphics and better precision when displaying documents.

XPS format is much simpler and more “lightweight” than PDF, so the virtual printer which uses XPS to print PDF has a lot of advantages. Printer doesn’t convert the information of one format into another, but simply creates PDF file out of XML. Considering that there’s no need to convert fonts, since they are initially TrueType, use of driver based on XPS virtual printer is the best decision.

Also, if you print a test page on PDF printer and find there XPS DRV text, that means the printer is based on XPS driver.

Virtual printer, that gets installed with Master PDF Editor for Windows, is based on XPS driver.