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Advanced Function Printing (AFP) is an IBM architecture and family of associated printer software and hardware that provides document and information presentation control independent of specific applications and devices. Using AFP, users can control formatting, the form of paper output, whether a document is to be printed or viewed online, and manage document storage and access in a distributed network across multiple operating system platforms. AFP is primarily used in large enterprises with printer rooms and expensive high-speed printers. AFP applications allow users or print room operators to distributed print jobs among a group of printers and to designate backup printers when one fails. IBM considers AFP to be a "cornerstone" of EDM applications such as print-and-view, archive and retrieval, and Computer Output to Laser Disk (COLD).
The AFP architecture is primarily designed to work with the Intelligent Printer Datastream (IPDS), but also can print using Hewlett-Packard's Printer Control Language (PCL) and the Page Printer Datastream(PPDS). Other supported data streams include ASCII, Metafiles, Postscript, TeX, and Ditroff.
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