Tricerat ScrewDrivers 7 - More than a Remote Printing Solution

In 1999 Tricerat released their first universal printing solution, ScrewDriversFXP. A simple solution to solve printing in Windows Terminal Server Edition and Citrix WinFrame.

In the end of the last milenium printing issues in Terminal Server was a fact, it was not a matter of if but when you would have issues. And it was also hard to tell how much it would effect your users and for how long. In those early days of Citrix and RDS there were pretty much only client based printing that was used, and this had many problems that were driver related. To solve these problems Tricerat first tried to manage the printer drivers but this turned out to be a impossible task at the time. So this led to the creation of ScrewDrivers and the name came from the frustration of trying to manage the drivers.

Then and today ScrewDrivers is like a pain killer, install the product and your pain goes away! And it was so easy to install that "even a sales guy could do it".

A lot of water have passed under the bridges of Baltimore but Tricerat remains the same customer focused company that delivers a fantastic printing experience to its users. I have had the benefit of working for and with Tricerat for almost 20 years and it is still one of my favorite products to work with. The product will just work out of the box, but should you run into an issue Tricerat is happy to help with solving your specific needs. 

 

v7 brings it all together

With their latest product release it all comes together as one, ScrewDrivers, Simplify Printing, Simplify PrintingTX and Simplify Scanning comes together as ScrewDrivers 7.
There are 3 different tiers of the product, and which one you select depends on your requirements. 

 

Below I will walk through the different tiers of the products and why/when you would use one or the other.

 

ScrewDrivers Essentials - The Core for printing over RDP, ICA or PCoIP

As the name implies this is the entry level product which covers the traditional printing to client printers, aka traditional ScrewDrivers. The product includes a server and client component and allows for printing from your session host over your connection protocol (RDP, ICA or PCoIP).

From version 7 this also includes the universal scanning product previously named Simplify Scanning, which solves your remote scanning driver problems.

The above picture shows the architecture of the product with a printer/scanner configured and the connection to the session agent where the universal printer/scanner is built at login.

 

Features of ScrewDrivers Essentials

This is a very powerful entry product, if you need to print to locally configured printers from a session running over RDP, ICA or PCoIP this is most likely a good choice. With the release of v7 client printing is also supported to Linux devices (open RDP).

To get started you will only need a client and the remote server, so no extra infrastructure is required.

By installing the server side and client component on your remote server and client you are good to go. When you login to your remote session the server component will detect that the client is installed. The client will then send the different printer properties available on the locally installed driver and the server side universal driver will build the printer(s) based on this information. This will give you printers in your session with a similar name to the one locally installed, with all the printer settings you are used to see locally.

Benefits of ScrewDrivers Essentials

  • No more printer driver testing, support any printer of your choice.
  • TMF format ensures proper output as it is a page description language that was built from the ground to cater for printing needs.
  • Print job streaming allows for faster print outs, printing will start when first page has been transferred.
  • Print job compression allows for printing over slow connections.
  • Font embedding ensures correct output.
  • No additional firewalls etc is needed as print job is sent within virtual channels inside of the communication protocol of choice.
  • Clients for Windows, Linux and MacOSX are available.
  • Supports any remote desktop platform using RDP, ICA or PCoIP. This is very good if you are running a mix of remote desktop platforms. It also means that you can run different versions of ie Citrix as the universal printing is not tied to the product client version.
  • Speeds up your login time as there are only 1 driver to be loaded at the session side, so the driver is in fact loaded already at login and the settings are transferred in milliseconds.
  • Allows for custom printer naming, that gives a printer a static name. For example the printer could be named "office printer user 1"
    This is a common requirement with applications that saves printer names as part of the application configuration.
  • Flexible default printer settings to match any requirement.
  • Allow for different default printer in session than locally, very useful if you have users that only use certain apps in the remote environment.
  • Automatic Client Updates
  • Works with Windows Virtual Desktop Remote Desktop Client (you will need Enterprise version to support the wvd web client)

 

ScrewDrivers Pro - Simplifes Printing for remote work platforms as well as traditional clients 

ScrewDrivers Essentials solves the client based printing challenges mentioned above, and removes the frustration for your users to not be able to print. As the TS/Citrix architectures evolved a very common solution to solve the printing challenge was to install print servers instead. The essence in this solution was that it was easier to control and test a print driver in the print server than it was to test a driver that was installed on a PC. A admin would also be able to have the same OS and driver model on both print and Citrix server and this looked like a solution.

The problem with this approach was that it was very hard to test a printer driver as most commonly the problems were most often not related to one driver by itself but the combination on the drivers you have installed. This led to random recurring problems when new print drivers were introduced to the environment. To work around this it became common to have brand specific print servers, so you would have 1 print server for HP drivers, 1 for Canon etc. This worked until you ran into a driver that was not compatible with a different driver from the same brand. Then you had to add an additional print server (This was when VM sprawl was a common discussion in the industry).

With ScrewDrivers Pro you will have all the benefits of the essentials product and in addition also support for ScrewDrivers Print Servers and ScrewDrivers Direct.
For those familiar with the v6 version ScrewDrivers Pro is the equivalent of Simplify Printing and Simplify Driver Management. Lets take a closer look at what this is.

ScrewDrivers Pro requires a SQL database to store its configuration, the database is small and a SQLExpress database server will be sufficient unless you have a SQL server already.

ScrewDrivers Print Server

With ScrewDrivers Pro you will have the ability to use your standard print server to print from your session to any printer on that server. To do this you will install the ScrewDrivers Print Server on your print server, and import the printers from the print server to the ScrewDrivers database. Once you have done the import, you can use the unviersal printer driver to print to any of the printers present on the print server.

There are no changes to the print queues so no need to install additional print servers or additional queues.

There is also no limit in how many print servers you can have in a environment.

 

Above is a architecture overview of how this print path worksr, as you can see a application would print from the user session to the print server and out to the printer. The print job would not pass the client itself, so there is no need for the client plugin to be installed unless you need the features of ScrewDrivers Essentials.

ScrewDrivers Direct - Manage native printer assignments

ScrewDrivers Direct is the new v7 name for Simplify Driver Management available in v6. This product allows you to import and assign native printer queues/drivers for your users.
This is very useful if you have a need to use a native driver for a specific use case, then you can manage these printers from the same interface as well. 

A other use case for this would be to manage your PC/MacOSX client printers, the admin would be able to assign a local printer queue with port and native driver configuration for the client without the need of group policy or print server queues. If the user then connects to a Remore Access Solution the printers could be added into the remote session using the universal driver.
Giving the admin total control of printing for both client and server side, using 1 print management solution.

For example you would be able to assign a printer to a network range for a remote office, so that a travelling laptop user would be assigned a printer based on where they are working at the given time.

So when would I select ScrewDrivers Pro instead of ScrewDrivers Essentials?

Client OS
Traditionally you had to have a Windows OS to use the client print path with Tricerat, with v7 you can use Windows, Linux and MaxOSX for client printing path so this is not so much of an issue. 

Granular Configuration
With the use of the SQL database and ScrewDrivers Administration application you are able to configure the product in much more detail.
In ScrewDrivers Essentials you have 1 server side configuration that applies to all users connecting to the session server.
With ScrewDrivers Pro you can assign all specific settings to Active Directory Users, Groups, Computers and Organizational Unit. In addition to this you can also assign it to a IP-adress, IP-range, Computer Name (with wildcards) etc. And you can also combine this as you like.

Printer Naming
With all parts of ScrewDrivers you have the possibility to configure printer naming for your users printers. The standard setting is to have a dynamic printer name, where the name is made up of different parts such as the printer name, the user name and the session ID.

For applications that need the printer name to be consistent between your users sessions, you can configure ScrewDrivers Essentials to use a printer naming scheme of "printer name" "client name". This would give the printer the same name at each login from that particular client. If the user login from a other client, the name would not match what the application expect.

If you have applications that requires static printers names to be used between sessions, regareless of where you connect from then print server print path is the way to go.
You can very easily setup printer naming in a way so that the name will not change for a user between sessions, for example the printer could be named "printer name - printserver - user". This helps for applications that save printer names per user.

Sometimes you have applications that require the name to be the same for all users, and this is also possible using the print server session settings and enabling "Use one shared virtual printer for each print server printer". This allows users to share the printer queue for a print server printer, as it would work with a regular windows print server print queue. 

Network Speed / Print Job Compression
As a user prints from an application ScrewDrivers will compress the print job data at the session agent and decompress it on the client or print server agent. Sending uncompressed print job data over a network connection is not always your best choice, if you are concerned about network speed you should consider using client printing or deploy a print server in remote sites.



ScrewDrivers Enterprise - Cloud Connector and Mobile Printing

As the name implies, this includes all features of ScrewDrivers Essentials and Pro and also includes ScrewDrivers Mobile and ScrewDrivers Connector.
ScrewDrivers Connector is used when there is no network/VPN between your Session Server (RDS, Citrix etc) and print server, and you need print server printers to work.

By installing a Remote Cloud Conenctor in the branch office and a Internal Cloud Connector in your data center, you get a secure connection that is initiated by the Remote Cloud Connector.

ScrewDrivers Printers and Windows Virtual Desktop

Depending on how you setup Windows Virtual Desktop you could use any version of ScrewDrivers depending on your needs. Below are some example, please contact us if you have more questions.

WVD Client Printing with the WVD Remote Desktop Client

ScrewDrivers Essentials can support client printing when you use the WVD Remote Desktop Client, as that will load the ScrewDrivers pluginat startup if installed. 
As client printing with ScrewDrivers is included in all editions, any of them would work.

WVD Client Printing with the WVD web client

If you are using the web client for Windows Virtual Desktop you would need to use ScrewDrivers Enterprise, as this add support for ScrewDrivers Gateway server which is needed for the SD TCP/IP Client to work. 

WVD Print Server Printing with site to site VPN

If you have a site to site VPN you would be able to setup the print server agent on your print server in your branck office. The users print job would then be transferred from the WVD Desktop to the print server over the VPN connection. This would work the same way as in a regular LAN/WAN.

WVD Print Server Printing without a site to site VPy

If you do not have a site to site VPN, you would need ScrewDrivers Cloud Connector to add connectivity between your WVD desktop and your branck office print server.

An example where you may need the Cloud Connector is when you are deploying Windows Virtual Desktop and you do not have a Site-to-Site VPN Setup.
The below images shows how that fits together, if you do have connectivity setup between your WVD desktops and your local print servers you could just add them as normal print servers.

 

ScrewDrivers TCP/IP Client for HTML5 support

If you are using HTML5 to access your application you do not have support for virtual channels that is present in RDP, ICA and PCoIP.
ScrewDrivers 7 comes with a TCP/IP Client that connects to the ScrewDrivers gateway to notify the server about the local printers.

At login the session agent matches the user name with the TCP/IP client printers and adds them to the session.
When a user prints the print job is sent through the gateway server down to the TCP/IP client and out to the printer.

 

 

ScrewDrivers Mobile 

If you have users that need to print from mobile devices, ScrewDrivers Enterprise allows for IOS and Android phones and tablets to print to your network printers using the ScrewDrivers Gateway. 

 

ScrewDrivers Scanning

As you may have gueesed ScrewDrivers Scanning offers universal driver functionality for scanners instead of printers.
The client component will detect any TWAIN or WIA scanner on your Windows Desktop and present it to any TWAIN compatible application in your remote session.

It also offers scanning profiles that gives you presets for scanning format for the user to use.

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