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In digital printing, a page description language (PDL) is a computer language that describes the appearance of a printed page in a higher level than an actual output bitmap. An overlapping term is printer control language, which includes Hewlett-Packard's Printer Command Language (PCL). PostScript is one of the most noted page description languages. The markup language adaptation of the PDL is the page description markup language.

Page description languages are text (human-readable) or binary data streams, usually intermixed with text or graphics to be printed. They are distinct from graphics application programming interfaces (APIs) such as GDI and OpenGL that can be called by software to generate graphical output.



Various page description languages exist:

  • AFP, Advanced Function Presentation (IBM)
  • Canon GARO, Graphic Arts language with Raster Operations (for large format printers), based on Hewlett-Packard PCL3GUI / RTL and CPCA job description language.[1]
  • Common Ground page definition language
  • CPCL, Comtec Printer Control Language (Zebra, Comtec)
  • DPL, Datamax Printer Language
  • DTPL, Datamax Ticket Printer Language
  • DVI, Device Independent, output from TeX
  • E411, Emulation 411, for Ticketing and Flight Strip (ATC) systems (by IER)
  • EPL, Eltron Programming Language
  • Envoy, a page description language created by WordPerfect Corporation
  • ESC/P, Epson Standard Code for Printers, simple language mainly used in dot matrix printers
  • ESC/P2, an expanded version of ESC/P
  • ESC/Page, Epson Standard Code for Page Printer, a page description language (distinct from ESC/P) used in a number of Epson laser printers, especially Japanese models
  • ESC/POS, Epson Standard Code for POS printers
  • FGL, Friendly Ghost Language, used by Boca Systems printers
  • Fingerprint, a programming language for Intermec printers, Intermec Direct Protocol is subset of Fingerprint
  • HP-GL and HP-GL/2, geometric language introduced by Hewlett-Packard for pen plotters, still in use today for technical drawings
  • Interpress (Xerox)
  • IJPDS, Ink Jet Printer Data Stream (by Kodak)
  • IPDS, Intelligent Printer Data Stream (by IBM)
  • IPL, Intermec Printer Language, a programming language for Intermec printers
  • KPDL, Kyocera Page Description Language
  • LCDS/Metacode, a Xerox print stream format used in their older high-speed printers
  • MODCA, Mixed Object Document Content Architecture (IBM)
  • MTPL, Mannesmann Tally Printer Language
  • PCL, Printer Command Language (Hewlett-Packard)
  • PDF, Portable Document Format (Adobe Systems), now ISO 32000[2]
  • PostScript (Adobe Systems)
  • PPDS, Personal Printer Data Stream by IBM
  • RPCS, Refined Printing Command Stream by Ricoh
  • RTL (Raster Transfer Language, also known as PCL3GUI). Raster graphic command subset of Hewlett-Packard HP-GL/2, similar to PCL.
  • Star Line Mode, variant of ESC/POS used by Star printers
  • SPL, Samsung Printer Language[3]
  • SVG, an XML-based graphics description language primarily developed for the World Wide Web
  • Canon SG Raster (Swift Graphics Raster for large format printers), based on Hewlett-Packard PCL3GUI / RTL and IVEC (XML formatted job description language)
  • TSPL, TSC Printers programming language
  • TTP, print language for former Swecoin (now Zebra) kiosk printers
  • UFR (Ultra Fast Rendering), a proprietary language used by Canon
  • XES, Xerox Escape Sequence
  • XPS, XML Paper Specification introduced in Windows Vista
  • ZJS, Zenographics ZjStream Page Description Language
  • ZPL, Zebra Programming Language
  • IGP/PGL, Printronix Graphics Language

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "White Paper - Canon imagePROGRAF PAGE DESCRIPTION LANGUAGES (PDLS)" (PDF). Canon. Retrieved 13 June 2013.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ PDF format becomes ISO standard
  3. ^ Croc, Aurélien. "SPL Specifications". SpliX Drivers for your printer. Retrieved Feb 26, 2018.

External linksEdit