Jump to content
  • 0

PDF Creation On Macs



I often use PDF files for printing. I have found that they are much easier to use with our in house HP plotter, and they are also easy to send to local print shops.

For some reason, I have noticed quite a difference between PDF files created using Adobe Acrobat Distiller, and the PDF files created using Mac OSX?s built in PDF creation abilities. The PDF files created using the built-in Mac OSX feature have incorrect (heavier) line weights and often problems with hatches.

Adobe Acrobat Distiller 5 gives me much better results, even with the resolution set to 300dpi.

Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on haw to get better results creating PDF files directly form OSX?

Link to comment

23 answers to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0

OS 10's build in PDF writer is an image based system. This explains why some lines are darker than others.

If you want a true PDF you should use Adobe's Distiller.

Cloud - You just got text?

that's bizarre...

What version of 10 are you using?

Link to comment
  • 0

You'll need a driver that has a standalone driver. I don't know of any off the top of my head.

You may want to call the service/printer bureau and see what they recocmend. They <i>should</i> be able to help you there.

If not, just use the .ps output that is built in with OS 10 (in the print dialog box) and send that to them. They should know what to do with that. I don't know of any service bureau that doesn't have a ghost application to read .ps drivers. If they can't do .ps files, you may want to find a new one.

OR, if you aren't using RenderWorks rendering, just tell them to download the Viewer. That will make like a breeze

[ 09-30-2002, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: Katie ]

Link to comment
  • 0

It's non-RW printing, so the viewer will come in real handy. But in formatting my pages from 11x17 to 24x36, I'm having to rescale layers and such. Probably can double everything (go from 1/8 to 1/4 scale), but I was hoping to have the proper size page chosen from Page Setup so that the service bureau wouldn't have to guess if the pages would print as I intended them. After all, they're 1000 miles away and I can't review them before the customer sees them.

Seems like I'll have to guess at the scale and hope everything is laid out and centered.

Link to comment
  • 0

Well you know a 24 x 36 is going to print out on about 21" x 33", give or take 1/2"-1" to make up for margin allowance. Knowing this is half the battle. Just make sure your drawing stays within that limit.

The alternative is to set the "Set Print Area" to that page size. You could also set a custom page size and specify the above measurements to have the print boundary border show you that. Make sure you turn off grid marks - and voila.. you have a single print boundary border you can use as a guide to set your drawing accordingly.

Does that help?

Link to comment
  • 0

These kinds of discussions always interest me. We have an HP 1055cm plotter-- it supports up to Arch E size sheets, so that is the example I will use. 10.2 has the HP1055cm driver (or PPD actually) installed by default. For 10.1.x you will want to go out and find an appropriate postscript plotter ppd. HP has relatively new PPDs available for most of their plotters that you can download. You don't actually need the whole "driver" set-- you just need the PPD. You might also find some good PPDs at linuxprinting.org.

A few notes.

MacGhostView 2.6 (look on versiontracker.com) will also convert .ps files to pdf. All it does is put a GUI on one of the available ghostscript versions. If you are comfortable with the command line you can skip the shareware thing entirely and just install one of the unix ghostscript packages and enter the commands yourself.

To install a fake printer under OSX, make sure you have a PPD (postscript printer definition) file available-- for our purposes we want something that supports plotter sized sheets. Better yet, if you know the intended output device there may be a PPD available. You can put the PPD anywhere really. Open print center. "Add printer" and select LPR/LDP or IP Printing, depending on the choices. For an IP or printer's address enter or really anything in a private IP range that isn't already assigned to something. Don't worry about the queue, and for printer model select "other" and navigate to your saved PPD file. Or, if you are in 10.2 go to HP and select one of the models. After that just click add.

Obviously you would only want to save to file with this printer since you have it sending postscript data out to never never land.

I don't know of any free driver available for generating HPGL/2 (.plt) files for either OSX or OS9.

Stone software also has a program called "PStill" that will convert postscript to pdf. Adobe Acrobat Distiller isn't available for OSX.

[ 09-30-2002, 08:47 PM: Message edited by: aersloat ]

Link to comment
  • 0

Oh boy.

All an HPGL2 file is a printer output in a file.

You may want to check with the print bureau to see what type of printer they will be using. You can then download the printer driver/ppd file associated with it. If not, any larger format printer should do the trick.

When you go to File Print - there is an optio for output -- Printer or File.

You will select file.

This will generate a .ps file or .prn or .plt file. You'll then send this file to the print bureau and they should know what to do with it.

I wrote a tech note about this for the Mid-Atlantic User's Group. When I find it, I'll post it here.

[ 09-30-2002, 12:06 PM: Message edited by: Katie ]

Link to comment
  • 0

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.


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.

Link to comment
  • 0

Austin, that is an utterly perfect answer. Thank you. It's all so obvious now......well, it's not at all obvious--had no clue about the "fake" IP address. Got a PPD installed, and glad I did, because when I chose Arch D in Page Setup, it didn't center my pages in the print area. Woulda had to rely on the service bureau to do that or else have the top 2" cut off. Thanks again for the crystal clear explanation.

Nemetschek, thanks for the list of service bureaus. Came in real handy. Ridgways in Shreveport LA has been wonderfully cooperative. You might be able to update their info with their email: shreveport@ridgways.com

Link to comment
  • 0

If you have a post script printer, it helps define some PS translation issues when printing.

This shouldn't be checkmared when creating a PDF file because of the fact a PDF is an image. Checkmarking ps only will cause only text and no lines to go over .. just as CH was having.

Link to comment
  • 0

Greetings all,

I'd like to follow up on an earlier issue - strange line weights generated by PDF's in OSX.2.1.

We have 4 macs (2 bondi imacs and 2 g4s) running VW 9.5.3 on Jaguar. Before updating to Jaguar and VW 9.5.3, we had a flawless PDF system whereby we created the file through a desktop printer, emailed it to a plotting bureau, and got the plots back in record time, looking beautiful.

NOW, using the built-in PDF writer, our plots come back looking terrible - any angled line is too dark, diagonal hatches are too dark, curves and arcs are too dark...we have to plot everything from an old 9.2.2 box just to get the drawing output we want. It's not a good situation.

What is the solution? Is anyone else having this problem?

Thanks for any advice,


Link to comment
  • 0


Thanks for your reply. However I can't find anything relating to 'anti-aliasing' settings anywhere - in Apple's System Prefs, or VW's Preferences, Page Setup, or Print... options.

While experimenting a little more, I found the following Genuine Mystery:

When a VW PDF is viewed and printed through Adobe Reader 5.0, the line weights look terrible, as described above.

When a VW PDF is viewed and printed through Apple's "Preview" application...it looks great.

So....am I barking up the wrong software developer tree? What is the difference here?

Best, Jim

Link to comment
  • 0

We got it: The Problem---

OS X generates PDF's that are 2 generations old...the latest PDF version is 1.4, and OS X creates versions 1.2. This results in poor diagonal and curve smoothing, etc.

Evidently it isn't meant for graphics or print professionals, just home and business users with fewer graphic needs.



So we bought Acrobat 5, and will run the files through the Distiller, just like old times! Too bad...we were happy to see the built-in PDFs in X.

Thanks again Katie for your help.


Link to comment
  • 0

When you look at it in Reader, make sure you are looking at it fully zoomed out.

There should be a setting in there under one of the menus for anti-aliasing - it's checked on or off.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...