The Printer Command Language (often shortened to PCL) is a page description language, developed by Hewlett-Packard. As of 2011, most modern printers understand PCL. Its complexity is between pure ASCII text, such as in ESC-P, and for example Postscript. There are different versions of the language. Common versions:
- PCL3, PCL3+: Can use raster description of fonts, grayscale, 300 dpi output maximum
- PCL3c,PCL3c+: Supports color, in addition to PCL3/PCL3+
- PCL3GUI: Allows compression of raster images, is not compatible with other PCL standards
- PCL4: Macros, bigger bitmaps, introduction of graphics
- PCL5: Supports graphics in HPGL/2, fonts can be resized
- PCL5e: Supports bidirectional communication with the printer, supports the windows fonts
- PCL5c: Color version of PCL5e, supports different color palettes, and the option to select different colors
- PCL XL later renamed to PCL6 enhanced: Allows compression to increase throughput. This is a stack-based object oriented programming language similar to Postscript
- PCL 6 standard: Either PCL5e or PCL5c, for backwards compatibility
- Jet Ready: Lowcost version of PCL XL. Only supports JFIF images. Allows to build printers without raster image processor, and without a lot of memory. The Rasterization is done in the computer, the printer only "prints images".
Except where stated, PCL versions are downwards compatible. A printer that supports PCL6 can also be programmed using PCL3, for example.
PCL is a very efficient way of coding. For this reason, certain manufacturers build high-volume printers that support different versions of PCL. Such printers can do more than 1000 pages per minute.
Printer Command Language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.