PDF Printer error: invalidfont; offending command: cshow

Explorer ,
Nov 04, 2015 Nov 04, 2015

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I'm having an odd problem here at work. I'm creating PDFs from FrameMaker 12. I have Acrobat vXI. When I create PDFs I can print them to any printer in the building. However, my co-workers (and likely our customers) cannot print them to our Dell printer. (Dell Laser Printer 5310n PS3. Can anyone tell me how to create or change my PDFs so anyone can print them anywhere?

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Nov 04, 2015 Nov 04, 2015

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If the PDF files print correctly from Acrobat / Reader to some printers, but not to a particular brand, it is possibly not a problem with the PDF file, but rather, with the printer driver, printer driver configuration, printer configuration, or printer firmware.

If you can post a sample of such a PDF file, we can examine it here at Adobe to ascertain whether there is anything wrong with the PDF file itself.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Explorer ,
Nov 05, 2015 Nov 05, 2015

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Thank you for your response. I think that would have solved the problem but our IT guy wouldn't do that. (Go figure.) However, I deselected the "Rely on system fonts only..." setting AND changed the printer to Adobe PDF. (FM defaults to my default printer so I had to change that too.) I'm not sure which did the trick but now everyone can print to that printer. Oddly, it only affected some people in the office. A few could print the PDF to that Dell printer but others couldn't. Our concern was that a customer might have a problem printing it so I pursued it. I now have a few more steps to my end-of-cycle checklist but it shouldn't happen again.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 10, 2016 Jun 10, 2016

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I've been having this problem with a job application my son was trying to download.  This is the URL of the document in question:

http://www.brigantine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Employee-Application-2014-New-Logos-Brig.pdf

The first page would print but when it got to the second page, I got the error message:

ERROR: invalidfont
OFFENDING COMMAND: cshow

followed by a stack dump.

Checking or unchecking the "Rely on System Fonts Only" checkbox had no effect at all when printing to PDF, but I went into Advanced Settings, PostScript Options and changed "Print Method" from Language Level 3 to Language Level 2.  The PDF file generated from changing the PostScript language level to 2 prints fine.

BTW I'm using Acrobat DC and printing to a Lexmark C520, an older printer.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 11, 2016 Jun 11, 2016

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Switching from Level 3 to Level 2 is actually what I would have recommended, so you've already done the right thing to get this document to print. Here is the problem with PostScript and old printers (or old printer drivers):  In my experience (and I've worked for a number of printer manufacturers, so I had a front row seat for that), over the years, Acrobat's PostScript generator has been getting more and more picky about how well a PostScript printer needs to interpret the PostScript specification. Oftentimes a new version of Acrobat would break printing to a certain printer, and it was not because of a bug in Acrobat, but would require a new driver from the printer manufacturer to deal with the new "flavor" of PostScript. Now keep in mind that the PostScript specification has not changed in many years (I think we can almost say "decades" - the PostScript 3 specification was published in 1999), so your old printer/printer driver should be able to deal with anything that Acrobat throws at it.

You also may want to check to see if there is an updated printer driver available for your printer from the manufacturer. That may also fix the problem.

You also have the choice of printing in PCL to your printer (which may require that you install a PCL driver) - that will also very likely avoid this problem.

As to why exactly it's happening, that would require to dig into the exact stack dump, and the actual PostScript file sent to the printer.

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Jun 11, 2016 Jun 11, 2016

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See my response!

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 12, 2016 Jun 12, 2016

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Dov, I always respect and value your expertise and knowledge, but in this case, I have to respectfully disagree. When I say "over the years", I am actually referring to a bit more than 10 years, I started to program for and with Acrobat back in the "Exchange" days. And as somebody who knew more about PDF and PostScript than most people in the company, I got dragged into any problem involving PDF (and PostScript). I know first hand of a number of instances where an update to Adobe Acrobat caused problems on our office multi-functional devices (running the Adobe PS interpreter). These problems were always fixed by an updated driver. The problems were no print output, printing only the first page of a multi-page document and I think scaling issues). So maybe my use of the term "picky" is not quite right, and it's more about a newer version of Acrobat unearthing a latent problem in a driver, but again, I can recall at least there of these instances involving one printer manufacturer's PostScript drivers. The last of these was probably 8 or 9 years ago, and I am extrapolating and assuming that the same kind of problems are still being triggered today - even tough I don't see them anymore because I now work in a different environment.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 12, 2016 Jun 12, 2016

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This is the postscript file generated for page 2 of the document that wouldn't print for me using the Lexmark C520 printer driver.
http://softwarefiends.com/adobe/Employee-Application-p2.ps

The most recent firmware update was 2009 and I already have it.

- Kathy

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 12, 2016 Jun 12, 2016

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Kathy, as we now know from Dov's analysis, there is nothing wrong with the PostScript that is sent to the printer, so we can assume that Lexmark's PostScript 3 emulation has it's problems, The only people who can help you with that problem are at Lexmark, so you may want to get in touch with Lexmark's support. For the time being, you can print using the level 2 language level.

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Jun 11, 2016 Jun 11, 2016

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On behalf of Adobe …

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the PDF file you posted (we examined it in detail) nor in the PostScript being generated by Acrobat. The PostScript does indeed meet the PostScript Language Reference specifications. And I printed it without any issue using the default settings (PostScript Language Level 3) to three different printers with Adobe PostScript (including a twenty year old LaserJet 5M!).

For printers that claim to be PostScript-based, Acrobat (and Reader) generate their own PostScript, pretty much bypassing the printer driver entirely except to ascertain the printer properties (such as PostScript language level, paper trays, etc.) and to serve as a conduit for spooling PostScript to the physical device. Thus, it is exceptionally unlikely that changing the printer driver is going to help one iota! Lexmark “PostScript” printers use the same base printer driver under Windows (PSCRIPT5) that all other PostScript printers use.

It is also true that Acrobat and Reader are intelligent enough to avoid relying on any so-called “printer resident fonts” and download all fonts used in the PDF file within the PostScript stream. The “rely on system fonts” setting is irrelevant to printing to anything other than the Adobe PDF PostScript printer driver instance to create PDF files, clearly something that you weren't doing here.

It is blatantly false to assume that “over the years, Acrobat's PostScript generator has been getting more and more picky about how well a PostScript printer needs to interpret the PostScript specification.” The base PostScript generation capability within Adobe applications (shared in common with InDesign and Illustrator) has been very stable over the last ten years or more!

What is true is that Lexmark printers do not use Adobe PostScript, but rather a somewhat unreliable third party emulation of PostScript (i.e., not from Adobe). From what we understand, there have been some improvements in Lexmark printers over the years and as such, you might want to ascertain whether Lexmark can provide a downloadable printer firmware upgrade for your device that might solve the problem.

In the interim, yes, changing the PostScript language level support from 3 to 2 is always a fallback you can try since PostScript generation related to fonts is very different for language levels 2 and 3 and your PDF file had some CID-encoded embedded fonts (Wingdings) for which language level 2 and 3 differ significantly.

The downside of Language Level 2 over Language Level 3 is that it is less efficient and for certain graphical constructs, such as gradients, may produce much lower quality output.

The other workaround is to use the Print as image option in the Advanced Print options. This sends a massive raster bitmap of each page to the printer and thus bypasses any font issues albeit with dramatically poorer performance and possibly significantly poorer print quality.

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 18, 2022 Apr 18, 2022

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LATEST

I realize this is an old thread.
When printing to an old Canon Image Runner 2200- PDF's from Acrobat PRO DC- simple pdf files- the printer prints an error message:

ERROR: VMError

OFFENDING COMMAND:  --nostringval--

 

STACK:

 

(r)

(Sys/Canon)

(Sys/Canon)
-dictionary-
[[600 600  ]]


If I print it out of Apple Preview- it prints just fine.
Adobe support said they'd get back to me- they haven't.
I think it's a missing variable font.
When I print one of my vendors invoices- Acrobat DC doesn't print any of the header, the images- but does print the guidelines of the tables.
Apple Preview- prints it perfect.
Tried on multiple macs in my office. Same results with Acrobat reader.
It's something the rip isn't sending - as far as I can tell.

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