Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 140 / MAY 1992 / PAGE 100

SuperPrint 2.0. (printer software) (Evaluation)
by Tom Campbell

Windows has never been known for its speed; the Windows printer drivers in particular seem glacially slow. And if you've done any serious word processing or desktop publishing, you know that the typefaces you see on-screen often look nothing like the typefaces that see print. Windows favors fonts for the printers, relying for its screen fonts on a rather simplistic default set that looks accurate only in a small number of cases.

In a rare example of software's actually speeding up system performance, Super-Print solves both those problems at once. Incredibly, SuperPrint can make a Hewlett-Packard or compatible laser printer operate at its rated speed when printing under Windows, while at the same time giving you access to thousands of different typefaces and creating screen fonts to match them Super-Print intercepts a number of Windows font and print queue routines and replaces them with its own, effectively replacing the Windows printer drivers altogether. The catch is that it works "only" on HP-compatible DeskJet, PaintJet, and laser printers; Epson-compatible dot-matrix printers; and Canon laser printers. Chances are that your own printer falls into one of these categories.

Which typeface should you use? While Adobe and Bitstream offer programs that allow you to match screen and printer fonts--albeit much slower than SuperPrint--those companies' offerings work only with their own typefaces. SuperPrint, on the other hand, supports PostScript Type 1, AGFA Intellifont, Bitstream version 2, Bitstream Fontware, DTC Nimbus Q, and HP bitmap fonts. On top of that, SuperPrint's modular design allows you to include other typeface formats if the need arises.

A suite of three programs, SuperPrint comes with several popular typeface families. The installation procedure carefully lets you know what it's doing at each step and allows you to override its choices. After installation, treat SuperPrint like a standard Windows printer driver with extra options. The SuperText and SuperQueue modules appear as icons. When a Windows application displays any text, SuperText checks to see is the font chosen in the application (which is a printer font) has a matching screen font. If not, the screen font is generated automatically.

Since a file is created for the screen font, you should always have a megabyte or two free on your hard disk (ouch!). SuperQueue allows printing to take place in the background--my preference--or in the foreground, where it's somewhat faster. Foreground printing allows your Windows program to print at your laser printer's rated speed; my HP IIP printed at about four pages per minute.

Surprisingly, earlier versions of SuperPrint were slow at printing text but delivered spectacular performances when paired with graphics-intensive programs. Imagine Corel-DRAW! outperforming Microsoft Word for Windows! Thankfully, that all changed with version 2.0, which sucks up soft fonts into its own font cache.

Finally and emphatically, you're not left out if you rely on a dot-matrix printer. I tried SuperPrint with several Windows text editors and word processors and was very happily surprised with the dot-matrix output. Print quality was superb. If you have the free disk space, SuperPrint is that rarest of animals: software that speeds up your hardware and adds new value to old equipment.