Argos 7.6.8 is here!

To mark the beginning of summer, we have a special treat - a big new Argos release.

Argos 7.6.8 contains many optimizations geared towards large amounts of data, and large numbers of users simultaneously using the product. This is great news for companies both large and small, because performance improvements make everything work faster!

We also add several new features to Argos, including one that has been a top customer request for almost ten years!

So what’s new? Let’s take a look!

HP Pagewide XL Walkup Authentication and Copy Tracking

When we first introduced our HP DesignJet integration in 2006, one of the first questions we received from customers and resellers was “How do I track copies?” The Designjet 4000 had an optional scanner built in, so users could make high quality color copies of large drawings. Unfortunately, the answer always was “It isn’t possible… yet.”

To track copies, we needed to know who was making the copy, and the devices did not have a way to store or retrieve a list of user PIN codes from Argos. While we could “track” the copy job, there was no way to know who copied it, or which project it was for. So large format copying was typically done on other devices.

With the release of HP’s new Pagewide XL printers, everything has changed. Pagewide XL devices interact directly with Argos to require a PIN code for every single walkup copy or scan. This means all copying can be tracked through Argos as seamlessly as it is done on small format MFDs!

While this feature supports Pagewide XL devices today, rumor has it that we’ll see similar functionality for some DesignJet devices in the near future.

HP Pagewide XL and DesignJet Print Category Tracking

In addition to copy tracking, we’ve added another big feature to our HP Large Format adapter: Print Categories. HP Large Format devices print efficiently in both color and monochrome, and many companies have switched from having separate color and monochrome plotters - a single footprint device can now meet their needs. But, for billing, this can be a problem, because monochrome printing is much cheaper than color. With HP Print Categories, printing is separated into several different categories:

  • Monochrome line drawing
  • Color line drawing
  • Low-density image
  • High-density image

This means different prices can be assigned to a single device based on the type of printing. Print categories in Argos are flexible, so if you want one cost for monochrome, and another for color, that can be done. Or, you can set up the “Premium Quality” print category and bill based on whether an expensive paper type was used.

Old timers may wonder about the difference between Print Categories and Ink Density categories. Argos has tracked HP Large Format by Ink Density for a decade, but we’re really excited about Print Categories. Why? Ink Density tracking only looked at the percentage of ink on a page, but didn’t take into account what type of print job was actually used, or the media type, or if it was color or monochrome. Print Categories provide much more accurate billing data, and they are backed by extensive research by HP!

Getting up to date with Microsoft

Standard installations of Argos have used SQL Express 2008 by default since, well, 2008. We’ve always supported newer versions, but not all supported operating systems could use the newer versions, so 2008 has been our go-to version. Now that Microsoft has ended all support for Windows XP and Server 2003, we have started including SQL Express 2012 instead. SQL Express 2012 is faster, more reliable, and supported on every operating system currently supported by Argos.

The End-Of-Life announcement from Microsoft also means we can update the version of Microsoft .NET framework used to develop Argos components. We previously used a combination of .NET 4.0 and 4.5, but newer versions were not supported on old operating systems. We’ve moved to 4.6.0, which gives our development team new resources to make faster and more efficient software.

Speed, Speed, Speed

Got over a million print jobs in your Argos database? You might notice the Argos Manager acting slower than you’d like. Sure, you can archive older activity, but for some of our customers, a million records represents only a few months of printing. Argos 7.6.8 includes performance improvements to make searching across devices, users, projects and activity much faster when the Argos database is very large.

The Desktop Client sees better performance with this release, too! It is easier to select favorites, snooze and record your jobs without interruption with Argos 7.6.8.

We’ve got love for other manufacturers too

HP is the big story of this release, but others are getting in on the action too. Argos OnBoard for Ricoh sees new usability enhancements in our embedded application, and for KIP, we add support for the latest firmware versions of their System K devices.

User-Friendly Messages

We’ve made a number of small, but significant usability changes throughout the product in this release. By analyzing our support cases and help documentation searches, we’ve identified several areas of Argos that confuse users. You’ll see clearer explanations and instructions that should help answer many of your questions without requiring a phone call or support ticket.

Check out the release notes for the full details, and download Argos 7.6.8 today! Remember, Argos customers get free updates for the life of their contract, so there is no reason not to get up to date on the latest version.

Alan Kasameyer

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