PMP Mail Archive: Re[4]: PMP> Alert table thoughts

PMP Mail Archive: Re[4]: PMP> Alert table thoughts

Re[4]: PMP> Alert table thoughts

Bill Wagner (
Fri, 4 Apr 1997 20:03:58 -0500


First, let me stress that my position stems from a firm belief that
the function of these commercial standards is to allow
interoperability among commercial products and not to guarantee a
particular level of functionality. I do not regard these documents as
MIL SPECS. I grant that this belief might be neither common or
current. But I regard it preferable to have wider and more complete
compliance to a less demanding standard than limited and questionable
compliance to a more rigid one. Although I grant that some useful
level of functionality should be provided, I suggest that market
pressures should dictate the degree of functionality.

Speaking from this position, your question:

If a mgmt app can't trust the Alert Table to contain all
existing problem descriptions (ie, critical alerts), then how
can the Alert Table be useful?

is a reasonable one (although 'trust' seems a bit dramatic). I would
respond that even the reporting of the single most critical or even
the latest critical alert condition is useful and is preferable to
having no alert. That having the five or ten or 20 critical alert
conditions listed is probably increasingly better (although at a
decreasing rate). And a unit that guarantees that every possible
concurrent problem is described in the alert table is perhaps the best
but certainly not the only acceptable implementation.

I understand your desire to have a management application that tells
the user absolutely everything about the printer. But I suggest that
there is a place for less extensive management capabilities.

You then ask: "What problem scenarios can you suggest that would make
good use of an Alert Table that does not necessarily contain all
existing critical alerts?" Report of a paper jam is useful
information, even though the fact that tray 2 is out of paper may be
lost. Report of an internal problem is useful in calling attention of
a repair person to a problem in the fuser (for example) even though
someone might have to look at the printer to ascertain exactly what is
wrong. Yes, it might mean that the supervisor has to make two trips to
a printer to bring it up again rather than collecting all necessary
tools and replacement parts for the first trip, using the complete
report provided from the alert table.

And yes, I suppose someone could write a management application that,
on sensing a critical alert, could look at some more of the MIB to
provide more extensive information about the problem even if it is not
in the alert table.

As you point out "...we already have other objects to provide such
hints, such as the counters indicating changes to the Alert Table"
However, a simple application might find it easier to have a concise
description of the conditions, even though it may be limited to two or
five or whatever concurrent conditions. Note that I said nothing
about not allowing a full implementation of the alert table. It is the
position of all or nothing with which I do not agree.

Yes, I have worked on several printers that provided (though a
utility) a single statement of the current condition of the printer;
although this statement was not derived from the alert table, the
implementation is very much like a single entry alert table.

You portrayal that my view is "that it's ok for a mgmt app to miss
critical alerts" is something of a misstatement. But I do maintain
that having a summary description of the several most critical alert
conditions is useful, even if all conceivable concurrent conditions
are not listed. And I think that using the alert table to get a
concise statement with respect to the most critical problem in a
printer is useful, especially since the existing status objects
provide little detailed information.

With respect to "Lexmark and Tektronix folks", they have every right
to demand only the best and most complete implementation for their
products. I am not sure that they should have the right ...or that
they would exercise the right.. of requiring all printers must have
the same degree of implementation to be compliant.

Bill Wagner, DPI