Sunday, January 25, 2009

C++/MFC: Extra! Personal Client Printer Emulator

The Printer Emulator feature of Attachmate's Extra! Personal Client product accepts an SNA datastream from an IBM mainframe computer printer and converts it for use by a Windows or HP EPL5 driver so the mainframe image or text can be printed on a PC printer.

Attachmate had recently purchased its largest rival, DCA, so I was lucky enough to find myself selected as a feature owner in the situation where the entire feature set of both vendors' products were to be rewritten for the benefit of both customer bases. That provided me with two significant design opportunities in the printer emulator project's UI. First was to combine the appearance of the two vendors' products into one that would be better than either, and perceived as familiar by both sets of users. That required deciding on which of the two companies' terminology was best for each title or label, as well as breaking one feature into two or more when one product offered greater configuration precision.

The printer UI is a combination of a text-based connection status window and the configuration property sheet with its seven property pages.

The configuration pages contain a wide range of options for which users' opinions will vary over which selection is best for their circumstances.

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