Simple, universal and reliable IDOL printer control language

Published on July 26, 2016

Simple, universal and reliable IDOL printer control language

On the network you can often find disagreements between professionals and not so much about how it is properly called. Either the printer control language, the printer programming language, or the document markup language. The root of this dilemma lies in the abbreviations of the developers of these means of communication between printers and computers, or rather, with the corresponding software.

The markup language of the page, it is also the markup language of the document, it is also PDL, which stands for Page Description Language and is translated literally as the language describing the page. The concept of “printer control language” came from translating the expression Printer Control Language or PCL for short.

Different definitions and possibly based on different principles and initial tasks, but the vocation is one - to establish communication between the computing unit and the printer. What does it have to be done in such a way as to get the output as close as possible to the shape and content visible on the monitor (not taking into account the color reproduction, which is a separate reason for the article).

Since the first printers appeared, various manufacturers have developed their own development of these languages. Here are some well-known languages ​​in matrix, laser, thermal transfer and inkjet printing:

  • IGP-10
  • PGL (Printronix)
  • ESC-P (Epson)
  • ANSI (Genicom)
  • already known to you PCL (HP)
  • XES (Xerox)
  • Prescribe (Kyocera)
  • IPDS (IBM)
  • Datamax (datamax)
  • TEC (TEC)
  • ZPL II (Zebra)
  • UBI (Intermec)

Often the user does not even guess what control language his printer uses. He just needs to install the driver for the current operating system, which will establish all communications. But there are special operating conditions for the printer under which the device control language plays an important role.

Consider the history and features of IDOL, one of the printer management languages.

IDOL (Information, Description and Organization Language) is literally translated as an informational and organizational description language. This command page description language was developed by specialists of the manufacturer of industrial printers MICROPLEX back in 1987 and was one of the very first description languages ​​(document markup language or printer control language). In most cases, the functions of the language are the same for all printing systems that are powered by the MPC ( M ICRO P the lex the Controller) regardless of the operating mode and print speed of the printer. The MPC was also developed on the basis of Microplex and is a separate subject of its pride. Using the IDOL control language provides full compatibility between the SOLID and LOGIJET ruler printers, although they belong to different printing technologies (laser and thermal transfer, color and monochrome).

IDOL enables MICROPLEX printing solutions to work efficiently under heavy loads due to its flexibility, speed and reliability. One of the important conditions for efficient printing is to minimize data transfer volumes. IDOL was developed based on this principle. Its syntactic construction of double ESC sequences accompanied by an instruction identifier significantly reduces the data transfer stream. Thanks to IDOL, traffic in ports, cables and networks remains low, thereby allowing all other operations to proceed at maximum speed.

IDOL is a living language. The MICRIOLEX development department can change and supplement the functions and commands of the language depending on the tasks assigned to the client. Since the language was developed according to the principles of innovation and improvement, the addition of any additional functions to the printer controller is carried out using simple and understandable methods.

Using IDOL with the so-called “transparent code” allows you to replace “ESC” with printable ASCII characters. This is convenient because it is often difficult to enter ESCAPE commands directly from the keyboard. In addition, this code can be sent from any computing device.

The IDOL printer control language can be divided into several functional groups:


Commands covering tasks such as selecting the desired tray or feeder, enabling duplex (2-sided printing), or page numbering. Unlike many printers that can duplicate only one page, MICROPLEX printers are capable of storing multi-page printing tasks in RAM (for example, a regular Windows printer: Page1 ... Page2 ... Page1 ... Page2 ...; Microplex printer: Page1 ... Page1 ... Page2 ... Page2 ... ) This allows multiple printing of a multi-page job. Thus, information is sent to the printer only once without the need for manual sorting.


Commands that affect the visualization of the text, such as the choice of font style (stored in EPROM or loaded via the interface in RAM), field marking, orientation or intervals. The list of possible changes: changing the font in height and width, changing the distance between characters and lines, changing the orientation of the text (0⁰, 90⁰, 180⁰, 270⁰), bold or invert printing, underline, stretched print in width.

Basic Graphics System (GKS)

The Graphic Kernel System covers the teams that generate vector graphics. The IDOL controller first receives native simple graphic commands from the host, and then generates the corresponding bitmap image (polylines of various weights and shapes, segments, circles, strokes, grids, ellipses).
You can also mark up existing graphic image commands (forms) that are used constantly and stored in the printer using macro functions .

Bar Codes

IDOL barcode functions generate commands for all the most common types of barcodes in the industry (2/5, Code 128, PDF 417, Aztec and QR-Code). To print barcodes with IDOL, the user only needs to enter their parameters, and not translate it into an image. This allows you to keep low traffic and naturally speed up the printing process.

Graphic Image (Bitmap)

Functions characterizing color and brightness for transferring image information with maximum efficiency and speed. Each pixel of the 8.4 million (300 dpi) letter sheet can be viewed separately using raster memory. This makes it possible to reproduce various information with an accuracy of 1 pixel.


Commands for creating and managing macros (electronic forms, multi-page printing). It is possible to create macros for electronic forms and load them through the load function in RAM (drawings, letterhead, logos, automatic copies and various forms). While the macro is stored in RAM, the host sends only variable data, and constant information is automatically added to each page. At the same time in the printer memory can be up to 99 forms.


Commands for printing personalized information, such as logos, signatures, and special fonts.

Emulation Management or SEM

Simultaneous Emulation Management or parallel emulation management allows the active use of several printer control languages ​​in parallel with IDOL. SEM allows you to enter IDOL commands into the data stream of other languages, such as PCL5e. For example, the user can control the message buffer using IDOL while overlay forms are prepared using Prescribe. Since MICROPLEX printers support several emulations at the same time, it is enough for the client to have one MICROPLEX printer (laser or thermal transfer) and print information that is intended for a matrix, thermal or laser printer.

The IDOL control language is based on the structure of "smart" functions generated using the "ESC ESC" commands. A large number of emulations are built into these functions. Using IDOL and MPC, MICROPLEX printers can automatically recognize the language that the data stream commands belong to and simultaneously accept PCL5e (HP), Prescribe, and IPDS.