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The Kinko's Blues

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Has anyone out there found a solution to the "on the road all the time, but I still need to print (sometimes in the middle of the night)" problem?

Here's what I've found:

1. Many of the plotter services companys listed on the website don't really support VectorWorks. One old computer in the corner has VW 8.xx, but it's not hooked up.

Exporting to a dwg and having them print w/ AutoCad doesn't print everything on the drawing. There are some objects that appear on the screen, but don't appear on paper.

2. In many Kinkos locations I'm able to print to the oversized copier. Especially with the old OCE9xxx machines. My TiBook (OS10.2) could find all the printers in the building (even the receipt printer, which kind of annoys them) and all was good.

No longer. They are switching over to Xerox machines and seem to be taking them off the laptop accessible network and/or not supporting apple talk.

3. I've made pdf's, tiffs, and just about every other kind of file out if it and had them print to the oversized printer from behind the counter.

pdf's work the best, but they are a little fuzzy, they don't print the diagonal lines and curved lines have big chunks missing. It also doesn't print grey tones. What you get is mostly fuzzy vertical and horizontal lines and source fours of questionable beam spread.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'll buy you a drink at O'Hare.

If anyone has any suggestions for printing in Europe, I'll buy you a drink at Heathrow.

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How big do you need to print? If tabloid or SuperB is big enough, I would suggest packing a printer in your luggage.

I got tired of fixing/optimizing local networks at varios Kinkos. (It would sometimes amuse me to discover the "lack" of knowledge the "computer guy" actually had at said Kinkos.) As far as optimizing your file, I don't know what detail (colors, placed images, etc.) you need.

I found packing an HP1220C in my luggage that can print 13x19 was the best solution for my needs.

If you have to print larger, maybe take a perfect 8.5 x 11 off your/local printer and have Kinkos, or better, a camera/film service enlarge it.

Hope my rambling helped.

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You think Kinkos in the US is a struggle, you should try Kinkos in Australia!!! I've never heard of anyone plugging directly into their network here in Oz, and most of the Kinkos stores are not open 24/7! When I do use them, I always save as a PDF. I haven't had the problems you list though. When I was on OS9, I used the shareware Print-to-PDF chooser extension (making sure the PDF had a minimum resolution of 300DPI), but now with OS10.2 I use the built-in PDF generation. It is a little jaggy when viewed on the screen, but it seems to print OK. Nothing beats native printing though, and luckily Sydney has a great plotting service company with full VW - the local VW distributor is in the same building. Practically all my plots are A2 up to A0 so touring a large format printer is not possible for me.

If you are going to the UK, I think you'll find Andy Voller is a subscriber to this bulletin board, and he is based in London working for VariLite. Try sending him a personal message.

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One thought for here in the US is to check out the nearest university or college theatre department or engeering department. A lot of them have VW and plotters now days. Won't help much in the middle of the night, unless you do some advance work, but you should be able to find one near by.

Over seas ?? - I took my pencil and paper my last trip to eastern europe!!!

Nemtschek might be able to provide a list of companies and universities that have their product in cities over there, and also here in the US.


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The best thing to do is talk to the print bureau.

We have a VW Viewer for VW 9 and VW 10 now. This is a free download which the bureau or service can download and install on thier computer.

It will allow you to open a native VW file and print from there. The one drawback is that it doesn't support RenderWorks rendered drawings. OpenGL and polygonal renderings will work just fine as well as straight wireframe.

If they are difficult and do not wish to do this, you can probably use a post script or print/plot file.

I don't know of a kinko's that won't use a print pr plot or postscript file.

You can easily create these files. Please see the printing section for how to do this as there are alot of initial setup steps on the user end.

If Kinko's doesn't work, Staples, Office Depot and many of the other "super store chain store" offer printing services. They can be more willing and more knowledgable about things like print files and what not.

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  • 1 month later...

A plt file is a plot file, one of the formats.

Plot files can be .plt, .prn or .ps. THe first two are non-ps, the last is a ps format.

Creating a .plt file is difficult to do, but you can create a .ps file rather easily. The print bureau should be able to work with any of the three mentioned formats.

If you include what OS you are using, I'll post steps here on how to create one.

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Actually, I'll just post the whole thing here.

Nemetschek North America

Matt Giampappa

Katie Roberts

Sharing files with Print Bureau?s

There are a number of ways to share a VectorWorks file for printing and viewing purposes.

Creating PDF files, image files, postscript files, plot/print files, and utilizing VectorWorks Viewer are all acceptable means for sharing files.

Using the VW Viewer

VW 9 has a free viewer available for download at www.nemetschek.net. This viewer is the VW application with many of the options grayed out. The Viewer was designed primarily for printer bureau usage.. It has since been used for a variety of purposes.

The Viewer allows you to send your VW file to the person using the VW Viewer without exporting it, changing the format, or sending as a print file. This alleviates any translation problems since you are sending a native VW file.

When the person using the VW Viewer opens the file, they are able to go to File>Print and print the file.

One drawback is, the Viewer does not support RenderWorks rendering. The files will need to be rendered in OpenGL, or one of the other standard, non-RW rendering modes.

Creating a PDF

A PDF, or Portable Document File is a file type created by Adobe. There are a number of applications that can generate PDF files. PDF files are a means to exchange your VW files with a service bureau. They can also be used in web design. They are especially useful if you have a drawing on a webpage and would like a client to download it and view it without the customer being able to alter any portion of the drawing or violate copyright laws you might have in place at your workplace.

In OS 10, there is a built in PDF writer.

For Classic Mac OS and Windows platforms, you will need a special application to create PDF files.

Adobe Distiller is the leading application for generating PDF files. Adobe Distiller is available on Mac OS Classic and Windows platforms.

Solutions for creating PDFs

Adobe Acrobat (www.adobe.com) $249.00 PC/MAC

Print2PDF (www.jwwalker.com) $20.00 (free trial) MAC (Classic


pdf995 (www.pdf995.com) $9.95 (free trial) PC

PDF Driver (www.zeon.com.tw) $49.95 (free trial) PC

pdfFactory (www.fineprint.com) $49.95 (free trial) PC

Jaws PDF Creator (www.jawspdf.com) $100.00 (free trial) PC/MAC

(Classic Only)

PDF Machine (www.pdfmachine.net) $85.00 (free trial) PC

Please note, Adobe Distiller and the OS 10 built in PDF writer are the only PDF creators we test with. The other options are to be used at your own risk.

Creating an Image File

Image files are a convenient way to transfer files between you and clients as well as you and Print or Service Bureau?s. Image files are also used in web design. Again, you can use image files to show your clients the status of your work, to show variations in design, or to give a quick glance at the drawing if they do not have Adobe Reader or the Viewer installed on their computer. Some folks that know how to manipulate image files in programs such as PhotoShop, PrintShop, etc. and will be able to alter the image and take over copyright control without you even knowing about it.

VectorWorks allows you to export to various image file formats such as BMP (bitmap), JPG, SGI, PNG, PhotoShop, Tiff, Pict as Picture, and Mac Paint files.

To do this, go to File>Export, Export Image File. An Export Image file dialog box will appear. Select the file type you wish to export as and the appropriate compression level.

BMP image files are the native image file format for Windows. These files are supported on the Mac as well in many image programs such as QuickTime. BMP files are large in size, especially when exported from VW.

JPG files are a common file type, however they lack in quality. If you are looking for a quick image export to show a client, JPG might be a good choice. Using JPG files as a solution for printing purposes, is not the ideal way to go.

PNG files are good for internet usage such as on web pages. These files are similar to GIF files, but offer an incredible level of compression. The PNG file type is good in quality and size. It is optimized for line based drawings like Architectural plans. This is the best image file format to use when posting images on a web page.

Tiff files are a good choice for exchanging between clients and print bureau?s. This is a common image file type recognized by both platforms. The quality is very good for printing purposes, however it?s still not as good as printing directly from VW.

Creating a PS or PRN/PLT File

PostScript and Plot or Print files are a way to print your drawing in VW to a file which you can then send to a service bureau for printing purposes.

You will need a print driver installed on your computer that allows you to print as files. Generally, Post Script printers provide this support. A common printer driver we suggest is the HP 755 driver (PC) or PPD with LaserWriter or Adobe Post Script (Mac). This driver has not posed any major printing problems that we know of. Of course, it?s always a good idea to check with your service bureau to see what type of printer they will be printing to. If you know the printer they will be using, in most cases, you will able to install that print driver /PPD on your computer. If you are able to install the print driver/PPD file on your computer, you should use that option. If you can?t install it on your computer due to needing additional ripping software, the HP 755 should do the trick.

Once you have the print driver installed on your computer, you will be able to Print to File from within the Print menu.

Go to File>Page Setup. Specify the correct setting. Ensure the drawing reflects these settings.

Then, go to File>Print.

PC Users ?

In the Print dialog box you should see a Print to File checkmark box somewhere near the upper right hand corner of the dialog screen. Checkmark this box.

When you click on Print, a Save as dialog box will appear. Specify the full path name to where you want the file to be saved starting at c:\.

Clicking on OK will generate the print file and save it to your computer per the above location.

Mac OS 9 Users ?

In the Print dialog box, you should see a drop down box that says Destination:

Select File from the drop down box.

When you click on Save, a save dialog box will appear. Select the location the file will be saved to as well as a name and click on Save.

This will generate the print file and save it to the location on your computer you specified.

OS 10 Users -

In the Print dialog box there is a drop down box. Select Output Options.

Checkmark ?Save as File? and set the Format to ?PostScript?.

Click on Save.

Select the destination folder you want to save it in and click on Save again.

Tips for finding a trouble free printer.

VectorWorks should work with any printer that is supported by the O. It does not expect to have custom drivers available like some CAD programs.

However, not all drivers are created equal. In the past we have found some printers to be more problematic than others. Here is a brief list of the printers and drivers that have caused the most problems with VectorWorks.

Epson 1520 (Mac)

-Epson has not decided to provide OS X drivers. Also the OS 9 drivers for this model are not fully compatible with Carbon applications like VectorWorks.

Large format HP DeskJets (Mac OS 8.6-9.2)

-Currently the version 4.3 and 4.13 drivers are not compatible with Carbon apps using large page sizes. These models work fine under OS X

HP DeskJet 1220c (Windows NT/2k/XP)

-The current drivers provided by HP will cause VectorWorks and other applications to crash when printing. Installing the latest version of the driver from hp.com will resolve the problem.

HP DesignJet 455ca, 488, 500ps (Mac)

-These 3 models all use Postscript RIP software provided by HP. It has proven problematic in the past. You may be better off getting the non-postscript versions of these printers and a 3rd party driver like MacPlot. Also, HP has no plans on supporting these printers under OS X.

Xerox Docucenter and XES models. (Windows and Mac)

-Xerox claims that these printers are Postscript compatible, but they have page positioning issues when in landscape orientation.

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To answer you question more specifically... HPGL and HPGL/2 (Hewlett Packard Graphics Language) are vector based printer instruction files that date from the days of pen plotters. The /2 was a file format extension for supporting color, if I am not mistaken. Although pen plotters are mostly a thing of the past many of the injet and laser plotters emulate HPGL/2 to be compatible with Autocad. The old Autocad plotter drivers sent HPGL instructions staight to the printers while bypassing any windows/dos drivers.

HPGL/2 is not particularly well suited for raster graphics and things like shading and fills. In the old days you could generate .plt files with macplot. That is what we used to do with MiniCad+4 and our old CalComp plotter. Those were the days...

You can read HPGL/2 files with GraphicsConverter if you need to. Don't bother trying to generate them. The plotters at Kinkos just end up ripping the .plt file into some raster format to print it anyway.

I don't know much about windows and .prn files but it seems that they are binary printer instruction files output by a save to file feature of a standard windows PCL printer driver. There is no way that I am aware of to generate a prn file from OS X. prn files are the ugly, funny-smelling younger brother of postscript files anyway.

.ps files are of course postscript files. Windows can output .ps files files when using a postscript printer driver. PS files (which are usually an ASCII format) can often be dumped straight to a plotter, if that plotter supports postscript. I believe many high end plotters also support TIFF input directly.

You may have better luck with your PDFs if you output to postscript and do the ripping to PDF yourself without using Apple's built-in Quartz engine. Adobe Distiller (Classic only) is the gold standard, but you might have some luck with ghostscript or StoneDesign's Pstill engine.

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I just had success with printing PDF's to a large format HP plotter at a service bureau, and I have nothing but curved lines in my designs. Came out very crisp. No fuzziness or skipping. It was an HP755 plotter, but I used the Design Jet 5000PS driver without a problem. Make sure that you're generating the PDF to the right size from VW, and not just scaling it up when sending it to the plotter--that's the tip from the service bureau.

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