Which one is right for you?
Simply put, applications always request service from the Graphical Device Interface (GDI), and possibly the Device Independent Bitmap (DIB) Engine, of the Windows operating system in order to prepare a print job for delivery to a Printer Driver ("driver"). Think of the GDI as a hard working individual an application employs to talk to a printer. A Windows' application doesn't directly access a printer like DOS did. Instead, it uses the Windows services. This allows for centralized scheduling and control of print jobs, a necessary requirement of a multitasking environment. Think of the DIB engine as another individual whose job is to manipulate graphics. The driver, which is generally supplied by the printer's manufacturer, works with the GDI and DIB engine to produce printer-specific output in the form of journal records. Journal records are then forwarded to the Print Processor, which prepares them for print spooling. Eventually, your completed print job is routed to the desired printer.
A major advantage of the Windows GDI interface is that of device independence. This is why IDMS suggests using it. Account Ability includes a database of carefully designed Enhanced Metafiles (EMF) that can be drawn on any printer configured for the Windows GDI. The PCL and Dot Matrix interfaces do not use these metafiles!
PCL, short for Printer Command Language, is an instruction set supported by many older Hewlett Packard (HP) laser printers. If you are using an HP laser printer which supports PCL or one which is truly PCL compatible, then you can, if desired, use the PCL configuration. Your PCL printer must be capable of retaining soft fonts (fonts which get downloaded to your printer).
When the PCL configuration is used, Account Ability does not rely upon the Windows GDI to create the journal records mentioned above. Instead, Account Ability generates a set of PCL records and sends them directly to the printer for processing. PCL records contain all of the instructions necessary for drawing and/or filling in tax forms on your laser printer. Clearly, this is a device dependent configuration.
Automatic Download of IDMS Laser Fonts
PCL printers, in general, do not come from the factory capable of drawing tax forms on blank paper. It is therefore necessary to download a custom set of laser fonts designed specifically for this purpose (IDMS laser fonts). IDMS laser fonts enable a special set of PCL instructions to be converted to a tax form by a true PCL printer. Since these fonts remain resident in your printer's memory until power off, Account Ability downloads these fonts only once per session (a session ends when you exit Account Ability).
Some printers will print a blank page with an arrowhead (è) appearing in the upper left hand corner every time IDMS laser fonts are downloaded. If you are experiencing this problem and your printer is not turned off between sessions, you may want to inform Account Ability not to download these fonts automatically. You will then be prompted to confirm the download prior to the start of each job.
Why use the PCL configuration?
The PCL configuration provides extremely fast processing of print jobs since the entire graphical interface is basically circumvented. Moreover, spooled output is much smaller with PCL than with the GDI since Account Ability, not Windows, controls PCL journal records.
Dot Matrix Configuration
If you plan to use continuous forms on a generic dot matrix printer, you must select the Dot Matrix configuration. When the Dot Matrix configuration is used, Account Ability does not rely upon the Windows GDI to create the journal records mentioned in the overview above. Instead, Account Ability generates a set of text records and sends them directly to the printer for processing. Text records contain all of the instructions necessary for filling in preprinted tax forms on generic dot matrix printers configured for a Vertical Motion Index (VMI) of 6 lines per inch, and a Horizontal Motion Index (HMI) of 10 characters per inch.
W-2 Dot Matrix Preferences (1-Wide, 2-Wide)
Some states require both employer and employee state and local returns, resulting in a 6-part or 8-part form. Even without carbon interleaves, many printers cannot penetrate that many parts. Wide carriage printers generally use a 2-wide form to overcome this problem. The 2-wide form contains employer copies on one side of the page and employee copies on the other. You must indicate whether a 1-wide or 2-wide form will be used.
W-2 Dot Matrix Preferences (Offset)
When printing 2-wide W-2 forms, some dot matrix printers cannot tab past column 132 making it impossible to accurately report Local information. If this happens, try to physically shift your forms to the left a few columns. Then, indicate the number of columns (0-3) by which you have shifted your forms in the Offset field. Each column will result in an additional character for the locality.
Windows GDI Configuration (Recommended)
Unless you are using a generic dot matrix printer, IDMS recommends using the Windows GDI configuration. When the Windows GDI configuration is used, Account Ability relies upon the Windows GDI to create the journal records mentioned in the overview above. If you plan to prepare SSA approved W-2, W-2C, W-3, W-3C returns on blank paper then you must use a laser printer configured for the Windows GDI interface. The Windows GDI configuration is also required for printing on pressure seal forms.
Adjust Output When Clipped
Printers generally print within a printer-dependent rectangle referred to as a clipping rectangle. If an application attempts to print outside of a printer's clipping rectangle, output will get chopped off (or clipped). Account Ability contains a rather sophisticated set of proprietary scaling algorithms designed to avoid clipping when drawing tax forms on blank paper. When printing on preprinted forms, however, a printer's clipping rectangle may not be large enough to encompass all of the preprinted boxes on the form, thus making clipping unavoidable. This is common among inkjet printers. If you experience clipping, select this preference in order to have Account Ability force all data within the clipping rectangle.
Registration refers to the relative print positions of images that are printed at different times. For example, when you process preprinted forms, the registration is good if the text aligns correctly with the preprinted image. Text that extends beyond preprinted box edges and text that overlaps other preprinted text are examples of poor registration.
If, when printing on preprinted forms, the text of the first form on a page prints fine but that of subsequent forms on the same page prints higher, your printer may require an adjustment to its Vertical Registration. If this is the case, use the Vertical Registration Control to increase the vertical registration (1-75) and try printing again.
Print A Clipping Rectangle Button
Prints a clipping rectangle (as defined above) for the printer you specify. This will give you a clear view of where clipping will occur. Inkjet users are encouraged to print a clipping rectangle at least once.