Hotfolders

In this article we'll learn:

  • Which types of Hotfolders are available
  • How to setup a Hotfolder
  • Which parameters must be selected when setting up a Hotfolder
  • Determining what happens to individual files when processing them in a Hotfolder.

1. Function and Types

Hotfolders offer several advantages when large amounts of Print files need to be processed automatically. The user can control whether the files are added to a Production Job or ripped immediately after checking-in. There are four different Processing Modes for Hotfolders in the Workflow:

  • Auto-Nesting [4] – Several print items are combined into one Production Job and then imposed. The amount of print items that can be added to the Production Job depends on two factors: Degree of Utilization and Maximum Processing Time.
  • Single Files [5] – A Production Job is created for each individual file that us uploaded, with the exception of multipage Print Items where all items will be included in a single Production Job. With this type of Hotfolder, if an Impose Mode is chosen, then an imposition is created per print item, unless a multipage Print Item is uploaded.
  • XML [6] – The content of the XML file can be used to control which Print Items are used in which quantity in a Production Job as well as which Fixups are to be applied to the individual Print Items. Optionally, an Imposition such as: Step & Repeat, Nesting or Tiling can be generated for the Print Items.
  • ZIP [7] – The content of the ZIP file, i.e. all file types that can be processed by the Workflow, are imposed using single or a multipage output, depending on the Impose Template for Nesting selected.

All Hotfolders are listed under the Automation > Hotfolder menu item. You can determine if a Hotfolder is currently started or paused, by taking a look at the Status [3] column. Hotfolders can be paused or started as follows:

  • Click on the desired entry in the list and then click on the Start or Pause icon [2]. You can start/pause Hotfolders using the start/pause icons directly in the list.
  • To batch select all Hotfolders, click on Pause all or Start all [1].

Figure 1: The Hotfolder list, showing both Started (active) and Paused Hotfolders.

PMS WebGui :: Hotfolder

2. Hotfolder Setup

Before you can set up a Hotfolder, there are a few prerequisites that must be met. These prerequisites include:

  • A valid Printer and Substrate must exist in the Workflow.
  • The Substrate must be Profiled on the target printer, and the integrity of the color range and quality has been confirmed.
  • The Share/Host for the input folder (source folder for copied print files) as well as for the output folder (destination folder on the printer) must be set up.

Once these requirements have been fulfilled, you can start setting up a Hotfolder:

  1. Select the Automation > Hotfolder menu item.
  2. Click on + New in the action bar, which opens the Hotfolder Setup dialog. The Hotfolder Setup is divided into six tabs. We will cover each tab in the following sections.
  3. Under the General tab enter the Name [7] of your Hotfolder. A Comment can also be added.

Figure 2: The Hotfolder Setup dialog with the General tab selected.

PMS WebGui :: Hotfolder
  1. Switch to the Process Parameter Here the user can choose the Processing Mode: Auto-Nesting, Single Files, XML and ZIP [7]. It is important to note here, that when you save the Hotfolder using a specific Processing Mode, you can no longer change the mode afterward.
  2. After choosing a Processing Mode, you can optionally choose the Split Pages [8] option which will split a multipage pdf into individual Print Items when uploaded.
  3. Here you can select the source directory by selecting the Host [9] and the Source [10].
  4. If you want to the Production Job to be rendered automatically after it has been created, you must activate the option Automatically 'Send to Printer' [11]. You can also activate settings for both Scale Factor and apply a pre-determined Fixup Chain.
  5. Under Process Type [12] you can determine which file types should be processed in the Hotfolder, by default all supported file formats are selected.  

Figure 3: The Hotfolder Setup dialog with the Process Parameter tab selected.

PMS WebGui :: Hotfolder
  1. Switch to the Render Parameter tab. Here you can enter the desired Output Settings by clicking on the pencil icon [13].  When the Output Settings dialog opens you can select a Printer, Print Configuration, Substrate, Substrate Definition and Color Policy, etc. If you select a Color Policy first, all parameters assigned to the Color Policy are automatically selected, this also includes the Destination.
  2. Additional options include, adding a DeviceN Color Correction, Cutter and Parameter Set and the Lead In/Out as well.

Figure 4: The Hotfolder Setup dialog with the Render Parameter tab selected.

PMS WebGui :: Hotfolder
  1. the next step is to select the Impose tab. First select your desired Impose Mode [14] and then the appropriate Impose Template [15].
  2. Certain options such as Max. Impose Height, Degree of Utilization and Max. Processing Time are only available when Nesting Mode has been selected in combination with Processing Mode Auto-Nesting. The Max. Impose Height is determined by the Best Height defined in the printer settings.

Figure 5: The Hotfolder Setup dialog with the Impose tab selected.

PMS WebGui :: Hotfolder
  1. You have now successfully set up the Hotfolder. By pressing Save [16] the process is completed.
  2. The Hotfolder is displayed in the Hotfolder list after saving, but the Hotfolder will not start automatically. Starting the Hotfolder must be done manually by the user.

3. Process files using the Hotfolder

We can now start the Hotfolder and automatically process files copied to the incoming source folder according to the settings applied. Proceed as follows:

  1. Select the Automation > Hotfolder menu item. A list of previously configured Hotfolders is displayed (see Figure 1).
  2. Select the paused Hotfolder in the list and click on the Start [2] button (Figure 1) in the header or simply press the Play button (next to the Hotfolder name). The Hotfolder will start monitoring the source directory and process incoming print files.
  3. You can monitor the Hotfolder by double-clicking on the Hotfolder's list entry. This opens a detailed view of the selected Hotfolder.
  4. The detailed view is divided into different areas. These include:
    • Header area – This area includes the name of the Hotfolder, the status for Processing, Success, Warnings and Errors [20] as well as relevant information for the current imposition [21]: Time Started, Time Remaining, Printed Area Coverage (percent) and the name of the next Production Job. The latter is only displayed for Hotfolders with Auto Type selected.
    • Check-In [23] – This panel shows all files that are currently being copied to the source folder and that are being currently checked-in to the Workflow. After the check-in process is complete, the file is moved to the next panel. Files that are too large for the defined Impose area are moved to the Errors List [29].
    • Queue [24] – This panel displays all files that can be used for creating the imposition. If a file is too large, i.e., there is not enough free space available on the sheet, this file will remain in the list until the next imposition is created.
    • Print Items of the current Imposition [25] – In this panel all print items which have been imposed are displayed. By clicking on the Move to Queue [26] icon, the selected print item is moved back to the Queue [24]. The file will then be used in the next imposition. Clicking the Delete icon [27] will move the selected print item to the Errors List [29].
    • Done List [28] – This tab shows the individual print items that were successfully imposed in a Production Job. Double-click on a print item to open the Production Job.
    • Warnings list [29] – The Warnings List shows all files that cannot be processed for specific reasons. Causes for warnings could be:
      • The print item is too large for the selected imposed size.
    • Errors list [30] – The Error List shows all files that cannot be processed for specific reasons. Causes for errors could be:
      • The print item cannot be read and processed.
      • The print item has an incompatible file format.
      • The print item has been deleted in the Print Item tab of the current impose.

Figure 8: Detailed view of a Hotfolder.

PMS WebGui
  1. After uploading print items to the source folder and processing them in the Hotfolder, a Production Job is then created. Creating Production Jobs using the Auto Hotfolder option can be completed using the: elapsed time option, by reaching the specified utilization percentage or by pressing the Create Imposition [22] button. Successfully processed files are displayed in the Done List [28]. Completed print items can be manually deleted by the user, by clicking on the Delete button in the header. This list is automatically deleted by activating the routine Delete Hotfolder Items for files older than 10 days (the specified amount of time can be changed as needed).
  2. To monitor any errors that occur, select the Errors tab [30]. You can download these failed print files, so that they can be corrected or discarded as needed.