Thank you very much for the detailed explanations. I'll give your suggestions a try.
I do have one question:
You wrote earlier "The Collect Job Documents option is enabled in the External component without requiring the Output Management option."
Does this mean that the External component functions as if I had "Collect Job Documents" option checked, even though I don't see this option (as I don't have OM)? Just wanted to be sure I understood correctly.
These workflows are simple enough that you should be ablet to put them all into a single workflow.
I would add a column with a "Form Type" to the manifest. You can map that as a custom field in the MAX Setup
Once you do that you have that variable to use in the Job Characteristics within the Route (and other) components
That will give you the ability to direct specific jobs to specific paths in the workflow.
In order to get the jobs to print together I would go back to the External, Join, External sequence outlined above.
I would make a couple of changes:
The FIFO printing enabled by the Collect Job Documents option requires the Output Management license. However, this also requires use of the Print component so it's nto relevant to this scenario.
The Collect Job Documents option is enabled in the External component without requiring the Output Management option. In this case, that component is used to gather jobs in a job group before the component executes.
That will not guarantee jobs in the group are processed in sequence.
In order to ensure jobs print in sequence, I would add the following nodes after imposition
The first external component saves jobs to a unique location (e.g. a folder named using $FFwfJob.Id$) and ensures the job names reflect the desired sequence (e.g. name files using $FFwfJob.documentGroupId$ or $FFwfDoc.documentSequenceNumber$).
After that I would Join all the files together. This is done so that the last external node executes only once for the entire job group.
The last external node would then print the jobs in the folder (I am assuming that the batch printing functionality will print in alphabetic order when you point it to a folder but I really do not know).
We aren't currently licensed for Output Management, but perhaps we'll need to be to accomplish what is explained below. The overall idea is that we wish to ensure jobs print together, in sequence. As an added complication, these jobs are being printed using External components -- we're using a utility called 2Printer, but it's similar to your examples of printing using LPR. Jobs arrive to the workflows using Hot Folders with MAX.
Scenario 1, "Product Labels" Workflow:
Here, we have a Workflow that receives a CSV file with a single line, referencing a single PDF file. It's printed using a single External component.
If the CSV file was changed to have multiple lines, referencing multiple PDFs, a Job Group could be created. I get that part.
If we were licensed for OM, would using Collect Job Documents on the External component ensure that the jobs were printed together and in sequence (or at least that the External component was executed and completed in sequence)?
Scenario 2, the "How on earth can I combine these things?" Workflow:
Here, we currently have 4 separate Workflows. Each receives a CSV file with a single line, referencing a single PDF file. They each have some steps that are unique like Imposition, Page Numbers, etc. Among the 4, they print using 3 different External components (same printer, different paper trays, different finisher trays). Note that the last workflow 'Divider" happens to route to two different printers, but I'm only interested in synchronizing the output shared among all 4 Workflows here; this other printer can be handled separately.
If the CSV file was changed to have multiple lines, referencing multiple PDFs, could these 4 Workflows be combined into one Workflow, using a Job Group, with the goal of printing the jobs together?
How would I split apart the Job Group to do the unique steps for each type of job?
How do I ensure that the jobs print together as they use different External components?
Lastly, is there any sensible, robust way to accomplish either of these scenarios without OM?
Thanks for the help,