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commercial printing from a file

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I'm using VW 8.5 and need to have 24" x 36" prints performed by a commercial printing service. The most comprehensive service in town cannot print properly from any of the available export formats in VW.

They have suggested using a .ps file format called Post Script level 2. Only .eps is available in VW and this will not print with proper scale through their conversion programs. They are not going to buy a copy of all drawing programs because they say if they do this people will constantly want changes to be made on site. I can understand this completely.

Is there any help out there for this problem?

It seems to me the Diehl Graphsoft should have already made a free reader that a printing service could use for this or at least a downloadable file that will provide for more forms of file conversion that is updated as life goes on.

Yea, great that VW 9 has a reader but what of us people who are happy with 8.5 and don?t draw enough to justify upgrading every time a new product comes out? I cannot believe the 9.0 reader will not read any versions below the newest. A pretty hard-core marketing scheme if you ask me.

I'm beginning to wish I had trained on AutoCAD after all. These customers seem to have no problem getting printing service. If VW is going to knock AC of the block they better start making it easier for the world to work with it.

This should not be this difficult.

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Thanks for the feedback. I have tried downloading drivers from HP and so far haven?t gotten one that will show a 24x36 page size. I downloaded the HP designjet 750c for instance it was actually a driver for a design jet color pro Cad. This printer apparently does not have size capability any larger than my HP1220c I already use. Other drivers I looked at did not have a simple Windows 98 application but only had NT type and AutoCAD specific drivers.

This was also the recommendation given by the print shop and they actually gave me a few specific plotter drivers to target. Having no success in my first few attempts to acquire one that will work I thought an attempt at some tech support in this fashion may be a good idea.

I was hoping for a non-printer driver specific solution such as file conversion, For instance the .ps Post Script Level 2. VW only gives an option for .eps extension. Do you have any knowledge about this format and how I may achieve conversion to it?

You did in fact confirm an approach suggested by the printer however so I do feel more secure in trying this. I'll have to shop a bunch of drivers to see if I can get one to work. So far no luck though.

My frustration is that there are more than just plotter specific methods to approach file conversion. This is clearly demonstrated in the VW export function. However there doesn?t seem to be any that will work well for this circumstance.

It seems a little help from Diehl Graphsoft in the form of a downloadable assistance for either an owner of the program or a print shop could go along way towards providing more flexibility for VW to be used all over.

Thanks a lot for your reply. Your help is very much appreciated!


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Let me see if I might be able to help with this:

First of all, the paper size does not always match to the printable area. I.e., if you want to print 24x36 you will get less as the plotters/printers require an area to "grab" the paper by to feed it through. This is defined by the plotter/printer and the appropriate drivers for them. Only Pen Plotters print to the very edge and they are so old and out dated that it would be difficult to first find a service bureau using them and second to find a driver that will work with your operating system.

The .ps format is Mac, for the most part and is "Post Script." EPS is used by Adobe for Illustrator and is a file format, just as VectorWorks uses the .mcd extension, Winzip uses the .zip, etc. It is not really related to Post Script in the printing area.

Any .plt/.prn file will work with a PC plotting service. It is printed by a DOS command. To insure the most accurate result, try downloading the driver of the specific plotter that the service bureau is using. They may even let you have a copy of the driver they use. However, be assured that once it is a .plt/.prn file, it is the same in nature as .ps (simply the raw print data that is stored and waiting to be sent to the printer/plotter).

For the HP 755C, the closest paper size to the one you are trying to use is Arch D (which is 24X36 but with the printable area being reduced to 23.49 x 34.63). You should always choose "One Page" from the Set Print Area dialogue in the Page pull down menu in VectorWorks. This insures there is no tiling and you can see exactly what your printable area will be to be certain that all of your drawing is within that area.

If you have any other questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at (410) 290-5114 (tel) or (410) 290-8050 (fax) or tech@nemetschek.net (e-mail).

This link is to HP's 755cm driver. We use this plotter in house to test quite frequently.


Simply choose your operating system... and it goes back to Windows 3.1 and has Mac versions as well

smile.gif" border="0

[ 10-29-2001: Message edited by: Brian O ]

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In addition to what Brian said w.r.t. generating PostScript output, it's worth noting that many users find Adobe's PDF format useful when dealing with service bureaus. You do need a full version of Acrobat (i.e. not just Acrobat Reader) and that's an extra expense. The advantages, though, are that you can easily check the file before sending it out, and that PDF enjoys widespread support from print shops. If you're having trouble finding a file format that your favorite bureau can handle, PDF may be an attractive option.

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Dear Sir:

If you are on Mac: When you go to "Print" there is an opiton of destination. By default is should say "Printer." You can use the pull down tab there to choose "File." Then chose "OK" to print and you will be asked the destination location of the file. This creates a .PS file for you.

IF you are on Windows" When you go to "Print" there is a checkbox to "Print to File." Choose this, continue to print as normal. You will be asked the destination location of the file. This generates a .prn file (rename it .plt if you want to).

This is ONLY available if the print driver you are using allows this and has nothing to do with VectorWorks as we do not provide print drivers. You may wish to download free print drivers from various manufacturers such as www.hp.com as long as they provide a driver for your operating system.

Hopefully this answers your question.

The print driver manufacturers are the ones who create the drivers that Print Houses use and they do not create one for VectorWorks. Again, this has nothing to do with VectorWorks but rather with the manufacturers of print drivers.


Brian O

Nemetschek North America

Technical Support Specialist

[This message has been edited by Brian O (edited 10-29-2001).]

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Thanks for the feedback. The link Brian gave takes me to the same file that I have tried. For some reason when I unzip it and install it, it is not the HP755C but installs as the HP Designjet Color Pro CAD. This does not have print options as large as 24x36 but is similar to my HP 1220C that I already use that provides 13x19 and banner prints. There is no Arch. D available.

The only reason I can think of that the driver does not load as the 755C is there is no detection of the hardware for the plotter. It is detecting my printer, which is similar to the Designjet Color Pro CAD. I'm clueless at this point. The zip file I downloaded is "pl121en". I've even tried this 3 times to be sure I wasn’t selecting the wrong plotter driver. I can’t explain it, but this is what is happening. I was suspicious of trying to create a "phantom" plotter when the service suggested it.

I do understand the print area vs. Page size and was referring to page size in my original post rather than print area. I'm trying to achieve the ability to have larger formats printed without spending a lot of money. It seems that it shouldn’t be this difficult but I'm learning the hard way. I think the print shop did have me confused and over my head on file conversion issues though. If I could justify spending a chunk of money at this point, I would simply buy a used plotter and be done with it, or lease one.

I'll explore the .pdf angle and see pricing vs. other options. Do you know of any problems with scale when printing from Adobe? The service was able to create a print for me already but the scale was corrupted. Scale is important as I am creating real drawings to build from.

Thanks for all the help!

I post back any results I find in case it may help someone else.

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Yes, thank you Caleb. I was limiting my options to the free side, but I agree that Acrobat would be an excellent option if you wish to spend a little money for it.

Led, contact HP for the driver and let them know their site has the incorrect files then. Those should work for you and if not, HP will have the correct ones.

[ 10-30-2001: Message edited by: Brian O ]

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Well, are you on a Mac? In either case, using Acrobat to generate PDF's is a smart solution. It's probably affordable if you are generating even a small amount of work to be printed.

For a non-pdf solution, on a Mac you can make a virtual printer that generates postscript files but is not tied to any particular printer. It is easy in this case to establish a custom page size of 24x36. Actually, when making a PDF with Acrobat, it is often a required step to make these postscript files anyway.

To create the virtual printer, search for "Desktop Printer Utility." Start it up, and choose to create a "Translator (postscript)." I believe the rest should sort itself out if you are familiar with even a basic amount of printing minutia.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have also had problems printing to a file. I have an HP330 plotter and have their HPGL and HPGL2 drivers loaded.

My plotting service wants a plot (.plt) file but the plotter driver produces a print (.prn) file. Are these different names for identical files?

My plotting service uses giant Oce machines and I have been unable to successfully load their drivers on my PC. When I take my .prn files to them, about half the lines print correctly, half print in the wrong locations, and no text at all will print.

Any suggestions?

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I've had the same issues as Ledfether. Here are some quick and cheap solutions to some of your problems...

1. Forget the full Acrobat package. Go to www.jwwalker.com and download PrinttoPDF. It's shareware for $20 and does the most important thing that Acrobat does - sets up a print file that you can send to others for review, and send to print shops. It works beautifully. It will print out nicely on the two HP designjets I've tried - the 430 and the 750. Unfortunately my local print shop's OCE 9800 won't print the .pdf, but their 750 will for twice the cost.

2. Robert Nichols was on to the issue about why the downloaded driver wasn't working. Use the Desktop Printer Utility to set up a desktop printer and choose the downloaded .ppd driver file for the desktop printer. But even with this, and creating a plot file, my printer service's output had mistakes on it (e.g. the copyright symbol came out as an apostrophe, and white layers over black layers just disappeared.) I tried the Macplot Graphicpak demo, which fixed things, and I could set up a .plt file easily through it. But then I discovered the PrinttoPDF, and decided $20 was a lot better than $500.

The big problem that I still haven't figured out is this - and I hope someone can help. A friend that I send files to uses a 430 with a windows platform. I am on Mac. The .pdf runs well as I said, but runs r-e-a-l s-l-o-w. The 430 only has windows drivers so I can't use the desktop printer utility. So is there any other way that I can create a .plt or .prn in Mac that will run quickly (or quicker) on the 430?

Note that previous discussions in this forum have covered some of what I said. Whatever the problems were regarding PrintoPDF as discussed I have not encountered.

BTW: Mac OS 8.6 on a PowerPC 8100 w/ a G3 card, VW 8.5.2

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I think the most likely reason for this is the way the pdf was created. While print2pdf is a good program, it does not create a well optimized pdf file. A pdf is really a superset, or relative of postscript. AFAIK, print2pdf simply creates a high resolution bitmap graphic and embeds that in the pdf file just like printing a bitmap to a postscript printer.

Had the pdf been created with Acrobat Distiller using a postscript printer driver, the vector based information that describes the image would have been saved in the pdf instead of a bitmap.

When you then print this pdf on the windows machine, it has to send each dot to the printer as an image, rather than in the printer's native language. So there will be a slowdown here.

It could also simply be a limitation of the 430's driver. I suspect that printing any large hi resolution bitmap to 430 under windows will be slow. (BTW, large format printing in Win 95/98/ME is also much slower than in Win NT/2K/XP. This may also be a contributing factor)

Matthew GiampapaTechnical Support


Originally posted by Skia_D:
The big problem that I still haven't figured out is this - and I hope someone can help. A friend that I send files to uses a 430 with a windows platform. I am on Mac. The .pdf runs well as I said, but runs r-e-a-l s-l-o-w. The 430 only has windows drivers so I can't use the desktop printer utility. So is there any other way that I can create a .plt or .prn in Mac that will run quickly (or quicker) on the 430?

BTW: Mac OS 8.6 on a PowerPC 8100 w/ a G3 card, VW 8.5.2

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  • 2 weeks later...

What a relief!!! I have Adobe Acrobat on my Windows PC and I'm finally able to have my drawings printed at my local printing service.

The good points are: 1: It actually works (e.g. no more odd looks from counter people who want to know why I don't use AutoCad). 2: The file sizes are very small compared to plot or print files. 3: The plotted output is almost as crisp as the original file.

The bad points are: 1: Acrobat costs real money (around $300.00). Mac users can find shareware versions, but sounds like they may not work properly. 2: The print setup is cumbersome and tricky. 3: There may be some discrepancies between the Acrobat file and the original such as additional lines appearing. 4: Your fonts must be fully licensed and postscript friendly.

All in all, I think this is the answer to outside printing of a VW document, and I would like to see NNA help us all become experts in using Acrobat. How about including an "Export to PDF" command in the program?

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