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Henry Finch

PRINTING SOLUTIONS

Question

could you please update the Printing Read Only area in the Support Bulletins.

I'd like to hear about the pros and cons to the HP 500ps for MacOS. How long would a 24" x 36" with mostly black lines take to print from a G3 or G4 machine? Is MacPlot needed or suggested with the 500ps? Should hookup be through Ethernet?

And what about Encad plotters? Can they work well with MacOS and VW 9.5? What are some ways to hook up?

What are your suggestions on MacPlot software. What configurations work.

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Yes...It would be great if the (NNA and possibly user) expertise evident here and in the discussion list could be worked into a maintained database of information on systems...combinations of hardware/software/tasks unique for VW users. Some obvious candidates: printing solutions, backup solutions, maybe network solutions.

My guess: This has been considered and rejected by NNA on a simple cost/benefit basis. Additional income expected / cost to devote space and staff; continuing time to maintain; cost to purchase or make deals for hardware; liability for bad info; liklihood of alienating partner enterprises by reviews, however accurate, etc.

I think it's a great idea anyhow and would further endear users to the product and company.

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Output the the key to our business. Contractors need paper plans. Over the years it is crazy how much trouble it has been to simply print a set of sheets. Just when I think it's gotten better, it gets worse (e.g.: no Mac- -plotting from carbonized apps). It would be great if there was someone who understood all the issues and would assist us in an ongoing manner. Thanks! PLC

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For liability purposes, we at Nemetschek are not allowed to make recomendations for hardware/software.

If you have a question about what types of software you need to run your plotter, or if the software will be compatible with the operating system, you should contact the manufacturer of the software or hardware.

Inquries about how long this will take to print, how long this will take to redraw is difficult to predict. This is due to the variety of computer hardware options available. Printing the same file from a G3 might take just as long as printing from a G4. If you take the same file to another set of G3s and G4s, the file may print faster on the G3 than the G4. It's all independant of the hardware on each computer. Not to mention if you have other programs running, what types of extensions you have installed, how much memory you have, how much memory the printer has, etc. With the variety of options available, it is hard to determine time trials, even generally speaking.

[ 01-24-2002: Message edited by: Katie ]

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I feel compelled to throw in my own $.02 on this topic. I don't think it should be incumbent on Nemetschek to provide a list of preferred printers or plotters. There are just too many issues, and too many devices for them to be able to do so.

So what are you supposed to do? Well, this forum is a great start. VectorWorks doesn't do anything special on the printing side of things. Unlike some other CAD programs, VW has always relied on the standard system printer drivers. This has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, if you can print from any application, you should be able to print from VW. On the downside, Nemetschek is a little more limited in terms of print options, like automatically swapping a color for a pen size.

On the Apple side of the equation there is one thing that you need to look for: postscript. This is especially important if you are looking for something that will last. A network postscript printer should continue to work with your mac despite any system software changes. For instance, none of our four postscript devices had any issues at all with the transition to OSX.

One thing to be wary of, in my opinion, is software RIPs. HP's site indicates that the 500ps is a software RIP. You can't be sure that the software will continue to be updated or work through system software updates or transitions. The software RIP also does all of the heavy lifting, and printing will probably be slower and tie up you machine more than with a printer that has postscript built in.

In short, if you need to get wide format output on a Mac and you don't want to use a service bureau you should look for the following:

Native, real Postscript (not emulated)10 (or pref 10/100) baseT ethernet connectionRAM expandability

Either AppleTalk or LPR will suffice, but the way things are going you should look for LPR. Basically, an LPR printer/plotter will allow you to assign an Internet address to it. USB is fine for use by one computer, but Ethernet is faster and will allow you to share the plotter. An external print server will also allow you to share the plotter, but shouldn't speed up output.

If you want to speed up the printing/plotting process maximize your RAM in both you computer and the plotter.

Avoid plotters/printers which rely on any special software sitting between your computer and the plotter-- especially third party software. Some device manufacturers don't advertise the fact that they use postscript emulation or software RIPs, so you have to ask very specifically. Some manufacturers will mention "Postscript Compatible." That usually means emulation. I mention this because VW has, in the past, had some problems with emulated postscript.

By the way, we have an HP 1055CM. It was pricey, but has been very reliable, and pretty fast.

Hope this helps some.

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Since we are wildly spending our $0.02s on this subject, I will once again spend mine(I will soon stop harping on this subject, I promise).

I hearlily agree that NNA may be understood to have no good reason to recommend OS/VW/plotter mariages, but, then, why not at least give us the raw data that exists in this membership to better make our own decisions. I would like NNA to make their member's hardware profile database searchable by the members. Their are many combinations of hardware that work well and many that fail repeatedly. It seems a shame that we are forced to repeat other's mis-steps because we can't see the results of each others experience. Such a seachable database would not require a large NNA overhead; Once the search engine is in place and the data fields are defined, the price of a search might simply be to enter the searcher's own hardware/OS/VW version profile before any search results are provided.

I would have liked to have enterred the search terms: G3/OS X/VW 9.5 and HP 455CA. I would have seen a huge dissatisfaction with that combination among the members that had tried it and would have saved, conservatively, one man-month of unproductive workarounds trying to get plots out of this basically unworkable combination.

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To add 4 more cents: I'd like NNA to add a new discussion area titled PRINTING.

The read only support area for printing is from Katie's note useless.

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Postscript output is fine for those with medium to large plotting demands... I plot maybe 4 24 x 36 sheets a month and Macplot pro & hp/gl2 driver to my hp330 has been flawless up to now. When I upgrade to wva 9.5 I will have to upgrade to macplot graphicpak also, just to plot from my now carbon application. There has got to be a reasonable non-postscript plotting solution from someone, without going into debt.

fred johnson frown.gif" border="0

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If your volume is that low you are probably better off using a service bureau. If we have a job bigger than 20 or so pages we send it out anyway because it is just easier for us. They can make reproductions at the same time. It is also easier for us to bill our clients a set amount from kinkos or our local service bureau than to itemize numbers of sheets plotted internally. For check plots we usually print 1/2 size on our LaserWriter 8500.

Another solution, or rather workaround, if you need to get around plotting in OSX w/ VW 9.5 would be to plot a file to PDF using the methods posted elsewhere in this message board, open the PDF file with Adobe Acrobat set to "open in classic environment," and then plot using macplot on the classic side. This isn't as big a pain in the butt as it sounds. I don't know if Macplot works in the classic environment of OSX though.

[ 01-25-2002: Message edited by: aersloat ]

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I am just a little crabby... vw 9.5 upgrade now requires a $350 (discounted)"sidegrade" to macplot graphicpak, just to maintain the same vector output I've been enjoying for years. At this point I really must examine 9.5 feature by feature to see if the upgrade is really worth +$700 to me.

fjjRA

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I didn't realize that there were compatibility issues with MacPlot. You could still try to run the VW output through a pdf file and then to your existing macplot. That should work. Set up a 'postscript translator' desktop printer and then run the output through macghostscript. Open the resulting pdf file in acrobat and output through your existing macplot. If is were me and it meant saving $350 I would try it. You might have to tweak things a little along the way. Fred, are you on VW 8.5.x still? If so you could try the VW 9 viewer to plot, if not, the 9.5 upgrade is free, right?

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Aersloat's comments were most helpful and insightful to date for us Mac users. Thank you!

I have gone to HP's website store only to find a mind numbing combination (and need I say) costly array of plotters out there. Calling and reviewing my choices with a salesperson of course is tricky as you have to sometimes read between the lines into what they are trying to sell you vs. what you simply need and can afford. The 1055 CM is pricey, but if it results in cost savings from wasted time and effort troubleshooting and in fact speeds up the plotting process with a simple one time send to print command without intermediaries (HP RIP, JetDirect and such), then the better for us all who want to now use OS X, VWA 9.5 exclusively.

Quite frankly, this is the one thing next to mouse drivers for OS X that is stopping me from changing over at the office. I have otherwise had success with the work around to simply save-as from 9.5 to 8.5.2 and then plot through the HP RIP. It does, however, mean running OS X and 9.x together. But hey, it gets the job done and delivered.

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smile.gif" border="0

Lest I forget my manners, thank you Nemetschek for allowing us to vent on the printing problem. Could we get a standalone forum in the General Forum area for us all to share info, please?

And thanks for the 9.5 upgrade. It brings VWA to an enjoyable and productive CAD program I first discovered in version 7 and has improved tremendously. I feel your pain for 9.01 and am glad for the fixes. There's still room for improvement, but that is what keeps you and us in business!

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Thank you Austin Sloat for the useful information.

How has your office been sending jobs to a service bureau for printing? Creating files from Vectorworks on a MAC for plotting seems to generally be problematic.

We have been sending PDF files created using Adobe Acrobat to a service bureau; however, any gray tones are converted to a dot screen. The service bureau uses a program called "Ghost Writer" to create HP-GL2 files from the PDF file, unfortunately, this seems to convert the gray tones to dot screens.

Does anyone have any advice? I know that the Macplot software will create HP-GL2 files.

In my experience, I agree that it is best to buy a postscript plotter. We have a HP488CA that uses a software RIP. It is only two years old, and already obsolete. The software RIP has never worked properly.

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Depending on the job we use two different service bureaus as well as kinkos. We have only used pdf files as we have not wanted to deal with them using the VectorWorks viewer. As far as I know they all have postscript native output devices. We did have some trouble with a third place. We do not tend to have overly complicated plot files, although we do have an embedded .eps in our title block and we do use shading.

It is wise to keep in mind that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. If there are no compelling reasons for you to upgrade then you probably don't want to-- especially if it forces you to use workarounds. For us OSX has been great, although less than half of the office has been upgraded so far.

I agree that it would be nice to have a dedicated forum for printing or output. After all, VectorWorks is useless to most of us if we can't get things down on paper and to our clients and the contractors.

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I'm so excited about the new PRINTING discussion area located just below (or above) the INSTALLATION PROBLEMS discussion area!

Not to be too pushy but this would go a long way to making the printing questions and answers more accessible to everyone without NNA having to recommend a particular solution.

Henry

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There are a couple of issues here for me...

1. As far as I can tell VW 9.5 offers only slight improvements over the 8.5 I use now (this is purely related to the type of work I do.)

2. OSX, for what I have seen, played with and read about offers only slight enhancements for me (again, my style of working) and I have no x applications, no real reasons to upgrade the existing applications, so who needs the OSX in "classic" stuff.

3. "Sidegrading " to macplot graphicpak would offer plotting enhancements I can use now and in the future if I change my mind on 1 & 2 above, so I'll probally take this route. Suggestions by aersloat, which I appreciate and thank you for, introduce a hassle I don't have now and see no need for.

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There is a new printing discussion area posted in the General Discussion section of the Message board. You are now able to discuss printing strategies and woes in this section!

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Katie,

Thanks for the new printing/plotting discussion area. However it has been made with limited access. I wasn't able to post a question.

Thanks,

Henry

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I am still searching for the perfect plotter. After talking to several dealers heres my 2 cents. HP really is the only way to go. They are the industry standard and excel in tech support and trouble free operation. Epson makes great desktop printers, thats mainly their market, but seem to break down alot acording to the techs. Encad may not be in buisness for long according to the grape vine. Some of their plotters are repackaged HP anyway. The ink delivery systems clog alot and require cleaning and maintence. They are more for graphics vs. cad. Oce' or kodak are expensive and also for graphics guys or big companies. Throw the Mac OS into the picture and your choices are very limited. The only cheap B/W soulution is the HP430, but to run it on a mac requires the macplot driver. Also the 400 series is old mostly discontinued, and on it's way out. the 500 series replaced the 400 line and is the least expensive but you need the ps version to run on the Mac or us the Macplot/ MacRaster driver. You got to think about the future and most likely you will want color. Also if youwant to us scans photos, jpegs , etc in your drawings you really need the PS versions of the HP plotters. If you have more than one computer or ever think you will in the future, Ethernet is the way to go. I beleive the HP ps plotter versions all come with a jet direct card or print server so thats taken care of. Epson by the way charges extra ($400?) and you must use their's not a third party server. Also if you ever want to print photos and graphics then you got to go PS too. Which brings us to RIPS. RIPs drive the plotters. If you on a PC and run autocad you can use HPGL2 drivers but on a Mac Rips are the only way. The HP500ps comes with an RIP that is runs on you computer. It worksbut is suposedly slow. The HP800PS has the RIP in the plotter on a Hard drive. Beacuse of the hard drive, plots go faster to the plotter , less time in the print que on the computer ( frees you up to work faster) and you can send many plots to the plotter. The 500 and the 800 have better resolution than the 1000 series and are newer so maybe around longer. The 1000 series is ment for CAD only ( less res). If you realy want to blow the budget and want great looking photos and graphics you can get the third party RIP Posterjet( the only on that runs on a Mac) for a mere $3,000 dollars and buy the non PS versions of the plotters. This becomes more cost effective when you get into the more expensive models because HP's PS RIP are more money than the non PS versions ($ 1,000 more inthe 800 series) As far as Mac OSX drivers, HP has them for the 800, 1000, and up series plotters now. It is assumed that the 500 will have it shortly. Forget about the 400 series having an OS X driver from HP. The only way would be the MacRaster, soon not yet $300-400 or Posterjet $ 3,000. Hard to justify posterjet being that it costs more than the plotter. So I think the HP 800ps with its built in RIp and hard drive is the way to go for me.

Kurt

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I just spoke with a customer support person at Microspot ( MacPlot/ MacRaster) in regards to Mac OS X . She says they will have a OSX driver for the 500. 800. & 3500 HP plotters soon. She does not know when for the 455, maybe June? Just like HP, Microspot is writing the drivers for the current models first, then will pick up the rest after. Unlike HP they did say they will support the 455, eventually.

Kurt

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