Papercut is horrendous. Clunky, slow, frustrating. Why can’t we choose a printer, how many copies and upload a document on the same page? Why does it take forever to submit? I know the size of the file makes a huge difference, but even reasonable ones often take a long time. So many students interact with this website. Investing time and money in a new, more streamlined, more reliable website would make a big difference to me and I don’t even print very often.

Anna Ready-Campbell

One Response to “PaperCut”

  1. Terry Simpkins says:

    Hi Anna
    It sounds like you are referring to Web Print, which is one feature of the PaperCut system. Before I respond to your specific comment, it might be helpful to give some background about the system.

    Web Print is a way to print from your personal computer for occasional printing needs, but it really isn’t designed to be the primary mechanism for everyday printing. It allows you to upload documents for printing, rather than requiring all the drivers and print queues for our various campus printers to be installed on your system. However, in order to process print jobs without using drivers, the Web Print server has to open each file using the file’s native application (e.g. Acrobat Reader for PDF files), and then submit the file to the printer. While this approach makes it convenient for use with personal devices, there are, as you have seen, some potential drawbacks. For example:

    * Since Web Print has to open and process each file/document in the order they were submitted, if someone wants to print a 500-page Word document, that file will need to be processed before the next file or document can be handled. If 100 people are using the system at the same time, this can require some time to process all the files.
    * If the application that is used to open the file/document crashes because of a problem file or badly formatted document, there will be problems processing other documents. This has been the cause of all the timeout issues reported so far. Acrobat has crashed and then has trouble processing all PDF files after the crash, causing files to queue up.

    As to your specific comments: the reason the various steps (choosing a printer, selecting copies, and uploading the document to print) are on separate pages is because of the range of options that are potentially available (based on the specific type of user) within each step. You are probably not seeing all these potential options, which makes the layout appear horribly inefficient. However, if they were available to you (for example, if you had access to a long list of printer locations, as some users do), you might find the tabs at the top to be a more convenient way of navigating.

    LIS is investigating other options that we hope will replace Web Print for most people. We realize that, despite its intended use, many students do use it as their primary printing mechanism, and we would like to find a solution that would better support that type of use. Finding a solution that works well with both Macs and Windows computers is something of a challenge at the moment.

    In closing, here are a few things you can do to make the Web Print experience better for you and everyone else on the network:

    * Try not to use Web Print as your primary means of printing. If you use the wired computers in the libraries and labs to send your print jobs, you will have more control over settings and your job won’t get queued up waiting for the jobs in front of it to finish.
    * As a bonus, if you get in the habit of saving your files on MiddFiles, you can access them from anywhere (e.g. from computers in the labs or the library) while at the same time guarding against data loss or corruption.
    * Try to minimize the size of documents you print via WebPrint. Large or complex documents take longer to process and can slow the system down.
    * If you have problems with a specific document, do not send it more than twice. It could be causing the system to crash and delaying other jobs. Please contact the Helpdesk with a sample of the document, if possible. This will help us determine what the problem is with the Web Print processing.

    Thank you for writing. I hope this rather lengthy explanation sheds some light on the limitations of Web Print, and provides you with some useful tips and alternatives.


    Director, Research and Collection Services
    Library & Information Services
    Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753
    (802) 443-5045

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