Barcode default printer setups – LIMS-plus 3.x (Excluding v3.7.5 or later)
Why are there 3 places to set printer defaults?
How can I set a specific barcode label definition to print to a specific barcode printer on the network?
Our lab recently migrated from a Terminal Services application environment to a Client Server environment. Afterwards, I noticed that I had to set my printer on two separate workstations. Why did I have to do this?
Printer Preferences can be configured in 3 different places within the application depending on the configuration of the laboratory and the application environment (ex. Terminal Services vs Client/Server). Printer preferences affect all users within the laboratory and often times are specific for a specific user or department. Understanding a laboratory’s network environment will allow LIMS administrators to effectively configure printers within the LIMS application based on the needs of their laboratory. Historically, laboratories using a mixed environment (Terminal Services and Client Server) have experienced printer issues. In isolated instances, the configuration of a printer within LIMS-plus 3.x has been the root cause. However, a vast majority of printers issues within mixed environments have root origins pertaining to configuration issues outside of the application. In many cases these outside origins are uniquely expressed within the application depending on the case scenario.
Printers are the intersections between the application and network environment which a laboratory functions within. Barcodes and reports are the most important items that are printed from the LIMS-plus application. However, the application has to take into account the mobility of the users and the environments these users operate within. Static Printers are common place for users who access LIMS was a defined single location. However, many users connect and use LIMS from various locations such as evidence vaults. Users may also access different departments located on different floors due to ever growing demand put on laboratories to have users cross trained in multiple disciplines. Analyzing how departments and groups of users interact with the LIMS application will allow LIMS administrators to select the best method to output their final reports and barcodes.
The scenario listed below deals specifically with the LIMS-plus 3.x application prior to version 3.7.5. LIMS-plus v3.7.5 has many of the same aspects described in the scenario. However starting at v3.7.5 and beyond, printer preferences follow a different strategy with respect to how printer preferences are stored for LIMS-plus users.
The Pantano Laboratory recently migrated from a terminal services application environment to a client/server environment. The laboratory is sing LIMS-plus v3.63 SP4 (3.63.35). The laboratory has 2 evidence vaults to serve the incoming evidence submissions. One vault handles non-biological evidence such as firearms, latent prints, questioned documents, crime scene photographs and narcotics. The second vault has refrigerators that store biological evidence such as blood and DNA samples. Each evidence vault has 2 Zebra TLP2844 barcode printers.
The Pantano laboratory employs 6 property evidence technicians between the two vaults. Two of the six technicians are cross trained for both vaults. This is to mitigate instances where extra resources are needed to expedite the processing of incoming of evidence on days with a high volume in a given vault. These two evidence technicians print evidence submission barcodes on a regular basis. These two technicians do not print evidence reports as that is the responsibility of the Evidence Vault Supervisor.
The two evidence property technicians (Rhoda and Mary) arrive early on a Monday morning to catch up on some work. They both are aware that the IT staff changed the application environment from Terminal Services to a client server setup. They know that their workstations within the vault now have a copy of the LIMS-plus client installed locally on their workstations. They start processing cases within in the non-biological evidence vault. The workstations are setup to print evidence barcodes to a barcode printer within this vault. Rhoda notices that there is a case that has blood samples that are due to have blood alcohol requests performed. Instead of processing the evidence in the non-biological vault, she goes to the second vault that has the refrigerators. Rhoda logs into a workstation in the 2nd vault and launches LIMS application. This is a brand new workstation and she did notice that it took a little bit longer to login to the workstation itself. She launches LIMS plus and begins a case. She gets to the point where she is going to print a barcode. The new workstation has a zebra TLP 2844 attached however, the barcode ends up printing out on the regular network printer within the biological evidence vault. She remember being told by the LIMS administrator to check the Print Setup option within LIMS. She notices that the setting for reports and barcodes says “window default”. She checks the printers and faxes and low and behold the laser printer is set as the windows default. Within the PC Default settings she changes the option for the Barcodes so that it reflects the locally attached TLP2844 barcode printer. She knows that this is specifically for her user account. She finishes her work in the biological vault and heads back to non-biological evidence vault to help Mary. While in the non-biological she prints another barcode successfully but notices that the default barcode printer is different from what was listed on the workstation within the biological vault. She asks the LIMS administrator about this and is informed that the Printer Settings that are set in the PC Default settings are per user profile on the workstation being used. The LIMS admin shows Rhoda how the printer settings are stored in the pcprefs.dbf file located local temp directory under Rhoda’s account. Rhoda realizes that since she is a mobile user, each workstation will have saved settings stored to her profile on each workstation.
There are three areas in the LIMS-plus application to setup printer defaults.
1. Default system settings (System Administration)
2. Edit Bar Code Label Definitions (System Administration / Barcodes)
3. PC Default Settings (File / Print Setup)
Default System Settings
This setting is utilized when all the LIMS users use the same default printers. Regardless on the type of barcode being printed. Not of any value for large organizations that have multiple locations.
Edit Bar Code Label Definitions
This setting is utilized when all the LIMS users use the same default printer for a specific type of barcode being printed. Label Definitions can be used in combination with the Default system settings. Value for small to medium size organizations that have one lab or location but multiple areas within the lab that generate specific labels.
PC Default Settings
This setting is utilized when LIMS-user need to print to specific printers regardless of the type of barcode being printed. Does not overwrite settings defined with the 'Edit Bar Code Label Definitions'. 'Edit Bar Code Label Definitions' will take precedence. Best solution for large organizations where there are multiple labs and multiple areas.
For users currently using LIMS-plus v3.7.5 or later, click here for more details regarding changes made to the application with respect to printer settings.