Universal (right to) Print

Avoid printing regardless of your “right” or system capability would be my advice anyway. But speaking of printing capabilities, in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Cloud we had some limited capabilities as all user activities and report process are in the browser/cloud. There were several tries to overcome the limitations by using BC email printing option or creating or buying another extension, and cloud printing was introduced.

The new Business Central 2021 wave 1 brings some new features regarding printing, including direct support of Universal Print, which was announced at Microsoft Ignite at March 2021.

Universal Print is an Azure-based cloud print solution, which offers centralized print management via its portal. It is fully integrated with Azure AD, and of course a subscription based service.

So, there was no reason for BC and Universal Print not to become friends. All printers in Universal Print Portal can be used within BC. And this “friendship” will allow you to:

  • Direct print without pdf generation and download (be sure to use filters to avoid printing many pages unintentionally)
  • Standard printer management capabilities – meaning no need to go to the printer properties on your computer or dedicated service
  • Simple setup and no programming – for me it lasts like 30 minutes +/- some troubleshooting
  • Printing from web, phone, tablet or any other connected device (I tried web only)
  • Works with standard and custom reports and documents – just tried on report extension I did the other day

Azure Active Directory

I was interesting to see how it actually works with Business Central Cloud. So here is how it worked for me.

Step-0 Printer

Before starting it is important to have in mind hardware compatibility. Printer must have built in support for Universal Print to make your life easier. In my case I have home printer Cannon TS8000 which I am accessing over WiFi and instead of checking the compatibilities, I just assumed it would work as it is not so old printer, so I jumped to solution. Apparently, as the picture above shows there is a way to support printer without native UP support.

Step-1 Subscription

You need to have a subscription that includes Universal Print or separated Universal Print subscription.

Universal Print licence is included in following subscriptions:

  • Microsoft 365 Enterprise F3, E3, E5
  • Microsoft 365 Education A3, A5
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3, E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3, A5
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium

In my case I used Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3, and I just double check if it is ticked for my user.

Universal Print - box to tick

The subscription should include the numbers of print jobs. My subscription was not so generous:

number of print jobs

For more print jobs volume add-on packs can be purchased.

With the proper licence assigned and as a global administrator I could accessed.

https://aka.ms/UPPortal

Printer management

As documented to manage UP portal needed roles are:

  • Printer Administrator
  • Global Administrator

Step-2 Universal Print Connector

To register my printer in UP portal I had to install and configure UP connector.

More details and download link available at: Installing the Universal Print connector | Microsoft Docs

Installation is Next-Finish type, and after installing the steps for configuration will pop-up

a) First UP Connector screen displayed the info about local Windows service it creats. I assume in case that for some reason service Print is not running UP Connector would raise an error, so the Windows Service/Event log would be the next instance.

Universal print connector configuration

Here you specify account that will register the connector and printer(s) at the UP Portal. The accounts needs to have assigned licence and right.

b) Next you specify custom connector name in my case MyCanonConnector and register it.

MyCanonConnector

After pressing Register, it will take some time – in my case up to 3 minutes to finish connector registration. This will result Connector to appear in Universal Print portal.

MyCanonConnector

c) Then I can choose which printer I want to include under this connector, and eventually in BC. Under the list of available printers, I picked the one I wanted to “send to cloud” and clicked Register.

Universal Print Connector

Step-3 UP Portal

At the portal you can see and manage your printers that come to Universal Print through connector. All printers are listed under Printers. By default, printers have status Not Shared. That means no other service, including BC, will be able to use the printer.

So, the next step is to share the printer. After selecting the printer to share, you can search your organization members that you want to share printer with, or you can just allow everyone from you organization to use the printer – as I did.

Share printer

This result into changed ShareStatus, which can be modified in the same way.

Share status

At the portal you can see your printer jobs, properties, access control (same as above) and printer connectors (same as above).

Printer essentials

It is kind of cool to be able to manage some Printer properties from UP Portal. Especially the Content Type – I will explain that soon.

Printer properties

Step-4 Business Central

Now when we are in BC – we can check or just assume that extension for UP is in our tenant.

Extensions

Then we visit Printer Management, and choose the new action group Universal Print. From there we can add our printers and even visit UP Portal.

Printer Management

Adding actions starts a wizard, which just basically says that we need to perform steps we just did.

Print wizard

After choosing Finish, voila – my home printer is there.

Printer Management

There are some options you can play with – set the printer as default, make a printer selection or edit the printer settings.

printer settings

Then all what was left was to try to print. I choose to print G/L Register report that I just extended with the new report object extension.

G/L register

And as we are saying in Bosnia “Prvi se macici u vodu bacaju” (I am sure translation would sound very cruel) – meaning you will never succeed from the first time – I’ve received an error.

warning notification

C’mon, after 30 minuts of nice and easy setup, where I traveled the world from my tenant to home, and Azure and back… now this! I just regretted that I hadn’t checked the prerequisites at the step 0.

Luckily, I was not the first in the world facing this. My experience in googling brought the resolution on the first search result page. After running this in elevated shell:

C:\Windows\PrintConnectorSvc\UpdateConnectorConfigJson.ps1 -Feature Connector -Name enable-pdftoxps -Value true

I went back to the UP portal Step-4, printer properties and changed the content type from application/pdf to application/oxps.

printer set up

Then pressing the print button from report and rendering for a second or two resulted in this:

printer notification

Just when I reach my living room from my home office room, my document was there – ta da!

Printer result

 

The blog post is written by Merana Sadikovic Mandzukic, Consultant Business Applications, Sopra Steria.

Merana Sadikovic
Merana Sadikovic Mandzukic

 

 

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