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MY printer wants me to send him .plt files to print. I'm using VW10 on a G4 Mac. He's downtown at ABC with his huge HP plotter. How can I create the .plt files that he likes? He makes it sound like VW is out of the loop. I understand AutoCad has a choice of printing .plt files straight out of the program.


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As is the case with most printing companys, they seem to be geared only to think AutoCad. Probably the reason they want your files in AutoCad PLT format is so they don't need to know your AutoCad line weights, etc. If you provide them with Acrobat PDF files they should be able to print those for you. I went through the same thing with the print shop I use and now I just send them PDF files and everything gets printed without a problem.


VW11.0.1 MacOS X.3.6 G4

VW user since 1992, reluctant AutoCad user since 1985

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Windows OS based comnputers can product plt files, Macs have a much harder time and require additional, costly software. You should however be able to send them a .ps file (post script file). Just about all the HP plotters can handle the PS language. To create a PS file, select Post Script as the Output option in the print dialog box and send it off to ABC.

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The only problem with postscript files is that they are quite large and if your internet provider has an email attachment limit (mine has one of 5Mb - some are lower) then they can't be emailed.

PDF is a much better option - the file sizes are small and everyone can read them.

I have used PDF successfully for some 6 years with vey few problems, apart from with plan printing bureaus where they tend to have machines that allow few options for input, and they don't want to accommodate something different.

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I'd agree with the comments on using pdf.

The print bureau I've used in the UK has a combination of output devices and I can get black and white plan prints very cheaply by giving pdf files they output on a plan printer akin to a large photocopier. Don't exactly know its type but its as I say like a photocopier, toner based and prints very fast at excellent quality.

I'd imagine you are more likely to find all printers are capable of printing a pdf whilst its more of a specialist market to print using postscript.

Not rare by any stretch of the imagination but it's a possibility they may not have that capability.

If they do then I think it could be a business geared more towards the graphics market wide format printing and these tend to be more expensive than copy shop business models. The time charged out for machines charged out regardless of file output, plan print or photo quality image.

Not always the case but would explain why some companies charge much higher than others offering printing services.

[ 12-10-2004, 05:56 PM: Message edited by: alanmac ]

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Thanks, that adds a new wrinkle. I'm finding that changing my drawing to either .pdf or .ps files makes significant changes in the drawing's appearance. What is the costly software that would allow me to make a .plt file that I could send the print service?

I'm weighing the cost of software versus the cost of owning a plotter versus the cost of $20/sheet as opposed to $4/sheet.

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I don't know any names of software off the top of my head. I'm sure if you look at versiontracker or one of the other sites such as cnet.com, etc, you can search for a MAC PLT application. MacroEnter's MacPlot under OS 9 did this affordably, however the OS X version does not allow this functionality to the best of my knowledge. I know there are a few that are over a thousand dollars, I just don't know them off the top of my head.

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Well, . . . text loses its rotation, some fonts change, fill patterns lighten up and almost disappear, thin lines turn grey, the sheet formatting drops away and the resolution changes such that curves become jagged series of straight lines. Maybe I'm doing something wrong out of inexperience with Adobe or these drawings are over complicated for Adobe. This file is 5MG in Vectorworks.


I'll check those. Thanks.

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The OSX PDF driver seems to be a crippled version of Abobe Acrobat, and doesn't always produce high quality files. But don't waste your time with PLT or PRN files.

You can download a PDF maker called PDF995, which costs $9.95, and works like a printer driver. You must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print. The PDF file should look exactly like what's on your screen. The Printer must also have the free AA Reader in order to print the files.


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if I might stick my foot in my mouth....

PLT files are not an AutoCAD thing. In thw windows world, most any thing you print can be redirected to a "plot file" by checking the "print to file" check box in the standard Print Dialog box. This simply creates a file of the instructionsnthat would otherwise have been sent to the plotter.

Now, I don't know about the Mac World [Frown] , but if I need to comply with such a request from a print shop I would:

Inquire as to what printer they had.

Download and install such printer, as if I had one connected - telling (in the case of windows) that it is connected a port "File:" Or "Lie" to it tell it it is on LPT1 or whatever.

Then, from whatever software, simply print to it. In the case of the "File:" port it will default to asking for a file name.

If the printer has an HP device, th output file will be an ASCII text file of HPGL plotter commands. Send this to your printer.


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Another old guy puts in his 2 cents:

In the pre-press/graphic design world,PDF has been the standard file format for sending to press for close to 10 years.A true PDF creator (like distiller or jaws) will handle anything you can throw at it, from art magazine quality photos to gigantic trade show graphics.

Anybody that runs any king of printing biz will be able to print from PDF, and more importantly their output will consistently look like yours (including fonts,the rotation thereof and all lineweights). This is the primary reason that its adoption is so widespread.

It has the added advantage that the electronic version you email to a client for proofing is the very same doc that is sent for printing.

Admittedly this type of PDF creator isn't cheap (much less free), but if you do enough of this type of thing they are well worth the outlay.

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PLT is analog to HPGL... Is not design to hold bitmap data, but is good to hold compact vectorial data to send to a plotter.

Most of the plotters work on HPGL as a input format since the only information they normally need is the path and the tool used (some have 3 or 4 tools). The tool is set by the path color, and the rest looks like " move to point, tool x down, move to, curve to, tool x up, move to tool y down, arc to..."

Since is similar in aspect to Pascal, I develop a plug in that read and exports HPGL (at least one of the non crypt versions), and any search on google will put you on the right path.

The format is not design to print pictures, but to describe efficiently (and 20 years ago) a 2D vectorial drawing.

Some mac software to convert the format http://www.aeronautauto.com/pages/softsumm.html

The old CADintosh use to be able to import and export HPGL... I'm not sure if he still do?

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I have tried a number of mac based pdf creation printer drivers. The built in osx driver creates large files so I don't use it for drawings anymore.

I have caused the printer driver to create a postscript file and then used ps2pdf to convert that to a pdf. Much better filesizes, the quality of the output seems better but a pain to change page sizes and I have had it choke on complex drawings.

I now use Jaws. It has been flawless for me and well worth the cost. I should also say that I have not used the adobe distiller.

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I agree with old guy. My partner is based in Aberdeen Scotland, while I am based in Oslo Norway. I send all my plot files to his printer in Scotland as plt. files. We are such good clients with the printers that we are now allowed to just upload our files via the ftp server instead of by e-mail.

Yes, plt files are large especially if like us you have aerials embedded in the file but in these days of broadband that is not a problem.

Here in Norway, Statoil petrol stations and most well known hotels have wireless, so if I really want to send something fast I sit outside the petrol station hook up with my password and send the files off while I have a coffee or make some phonecalls.

I plot out the files just as old guy recommended, I downloaded the printer driver that the printer uses off the internet and then just plot to file.

I also own my own plotter which is a godsend to check all plots before I send off anything. I own a HP Designjet 500 plotter and the cost in my opinion is worth it.

Brian Phillips M.Sc

Golf Course Architect


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