Canon USA chose 20th December to officially launch the much heralded software development kit for web-based Solution providers to integrate their products with suitable Canon devices (enabled imageRUNNER ADVANCE MFPs) – and vice versa. MEAP Web has been available in Europe and elsewhere since 2010.
There are two ways to allow an MFP to participate in business software workflows: web-based or Java-based. There are significant differences between the approaches, and manufacturers tended to adopt only one of the two. Java-based apps utilize more computing power within the MFP, whereas web-based apps tend to run on a server.
Canon was the first manufacturer to offer a software platform, in 2003. At the time, Java was the best option since it is so robust. But it has disadvantages. It’s resource-hungry; it’s not so easy to integrate – it requires serious programming skills – and this can bump up costs.
The alternative strategy is to allow the same kind of programming that is used for internet sites to run on your MFP. Typically the software then runs on a server and displays on the MFP screen; a smaller module runs on the MFP to run features of the device. Web-based solutions are easier to implement, and so rather quicker to bring to market, and web-based platforms have become the norm. No manufacturer has launched a Java-based extension platform since 2006, and Xerox’ EIP, Konica Minolta’s OpenAPI and bEST and Toshiba’s OPA and eBridgeX platforms which followed are all web based (not to mention the hybrids from Samsung and Kyocera).
Canon (and Ricoh and Lexmark) have held on tightly to their 10-year old Java strategy as this has allowed them to completely control (and charge for) what runs on their devices. Kyocera’s HyPAS allows both Java- and web-based apps to run on their enabled devices. Samsung’s XOA is also fit for both types.
The arrival of MEAP Web meant enabled Canon devices could exploit both architectures too. The SDK means – for a fee - web-based solutions providers and integrators can develop products which work with suitable Canon devices.
The stumbling blocks have been removed. It’s going to make it a lot easier to integrate into Canon environments, and it’s going to be easier to sell Canon iR ADVANCE MFPs into businesses with key processes which could not run on MEAP hitherto.