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General best practices-- PCL vs Postscript, Bidirectional communication

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Ive looked all over for this, both here and elsewhere, and havent gotten a good answer.  Apologies if this is a repost.


Im looking for a clear answer, preferably by Xerox techs, on what the recommended general best practices are for driver language.  I understand that this is a complicated question, but any information would be helpful.


I manage IT for around 300 printers, with perhaps a quarter of them being Xerox.  We generally have little say in what printer models are acquired-- the printers are bought by our customers, we configure the device and set it up on a windows-based print server.
We're attempting to standardize settings on the server, as one of the big issues we've had has been lack of standardization, and so we're pursuing standardizing on the GPD for all compatible Xerox printers (as listed in the compatibility document).  As far as I am aware, the printers are used for general office workloads.


Is there a generally preferable language for the printers-- PCL5 vs 6 vs Postscript?  My general understanding thus far is that PCL5 is preferable to 6 due to having fewer problems (like PCL-XL error) and being easier to troubleshoot (as it can more easily be captured to disk and analyzed), but that Postscript may be preferable for Xerox printers.  I have heard that Xerox printers are in fact natively postscript.  Can anyone confirm / refute any of that?

Also, regarding bi-directional communication-- once we have configured a print queue, is there any good reason to leave bi-directonal communications on?  Our experience has been that it generally triggers a significant delay in accessing or printing to a queue while the server queries the printer.


Thanks in advance.

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Community Manager

Re: General best practices-- PCL vs Postscript, Bidirectional communication

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Hi Mr. Collins,

Thank you for using the Support Forum. From a case on the online support I found this explanation for the differences between the PCL and Postscript drivers:

Differences Between the PostScript and PCL Drivers

Printer Control Language

NOTE: PCL is a trademark of the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Printer Control Language, or PCL, is a common printing language used widely by many different printer manufacturers. PCL is supported by many different operating systems which allows for the same printer to work in many different environments.

  • PCL is device dependent. This means that the drivers for this language utilize the printer hardware for creating some of the printed data, usually graphics data such as fill areas, underlines or fonts. This allows the computer to process the print job quickly and efficiently. The printer is then responsible to complete the creation and processing of page data.
  • Individual printers may perform these tasks differently giving you a slightly different output.


  • Fast print processing.
  • Widely supported in many different operating system platforms.


  • The same print job on two different printers may vary slightly.
  • Quality of graphics is dependent on the print device.
  • Not supported in most Macintosh environments.


PostScript language, or PS, is a common printing language also used widely by many different printer manufacturers. It is used heavily in Macintosh platforms and for graphic applications in several platforms. It is a device-independent page description language developed by Adobe, which is used to print and display pictures and text. PostScript 3 includes many enhancements to older versions of PostScript, including improved image quality and color.

  • Unlike PCL, PostScript is device independent. This means that the PostScript language creates all of the print data and does not rely on the printer for print data. This allow the output to be consistent when printed on more than one type of printer or print device.
  • Specifically, the graphic objects will be consistent and in some cases of higher quality than PCL.


  • Graphical objects are often more detailed.
  • The same print file should print identically on two or more different print devices. (This most beneficial when used for printing drafts on one printer then sending out to a printing company for production.)


  • Print processing can be slow.
  • Not found in as many platforms as PCL.
  • Print file and memory requirements are larger.

    NOTE: PPD (PostScript Printer Description file) is a file containing information about a particular PostScript print device's capabilities and restrictions. The information in the PPD is presented via the printer driver.


As for the Bi-Directional setting in the set-up you have described it might be best to turn it off.  Here is an explanation of the feature.  When enabled Bi-directional communication automatically updates the printer driver with the printer's installed options. The driver’s Printing Preferences will report information about the printer's operational status, active jobs, completed jobs and paper tray status. However, it may be helpful to disable bi-directional communication in the following instances:


  • Printing over the network is slow.
  • A status message appears in the print queue and prevents other jobs from printing.

If this information does not help please consider contacting your support centre for further assistance.

Community Manager

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