5. Plotting

Setting the plot options is done from the plot dialog box that appears when selected from the File menu, the tool button, or shortcut key combination. Currently you can plot using Postscript which goes through the print spooler on your computer, or HPGL which should go direct out to a serial port. Both types of output can be written to a file so they can be sent manually later. The plot dialog is split into tabs described in the following sections. The layout of the dialog will be familiar to anyone who has ever used Intellicad©.


Note on HPGL: This is the graphics language developed for pen plotters. Commands in it are all pen based (pen up, pen down, select pen, etc). Most newer plotters (and even some pen plotters) use HPGL/2. If you have an HPGL/2 plotter we suggest you try to plot Postscript to it. You may need to obtain a third party software conversion package to plot properly.

5.1 Scale/View Tab

This tab has three major sections, two of which are partially or fully implemented.

Print Area

This area of the dialog allows you to set the area of the drawing to print. Note that currently only "current view" can be selected. The output format is also selected from this box, as are the margins and resolution. Please note that for HPGL you must know the resolution of your plotter in order to print to scale.

The margin defaults to 5/8"(16mm) for Postscript output. The units the margin is measured in is dots; ie. the 'd' in dpi of your plotter. Please use a suitable margin for your hardware. The program can not check to make sure your margins are real, although it is possible to guess and we may implement a guessed check and program override of the user value in the future if this seems to be a problem. Our preference would be to assume that the user is in the best position to select a proper value for margin.

The QT 3x postscript print driver will now support resolutions of up to 600 dpi. By default Viewer will assume you have a high resolution device connected, and sets the initial resolution to 300dpi. The program will allow you to set any resolution you want and it expects you to know the capability of your hardware. Setting the resolution of Viewer to something your printer can not handle will undoubtedly result in plots that do not scale properly. Viewer uses the resolution value internally as part of its calculations to print to scale.

There is also a button at the bottom of this section to raise a dialog which allows you to set certain printer parameters such as color/greyscale, paper size and orientation, and plot to file. The button for print preview is not activated yet.

Entities to Print

Since it is not yet possible to select entities on the screen (to edit for example) this toggle can have no purpose. These buttons are there as place holders (and are disabled) until we implement these features.

Print Scale

In this area there is a check box for plot to fit. If the check box is cleared then it is possible to enter a scale in the line edit boxes below. You may also set the units of the drawing in this box.

5.2 Color/Width

This tab has three main sections, all of which are implemented.

List Box

This box allows you to select a screen color which can be edited in the "Map Properties" box immediately to the right. This list box supports single selection, or multiple selection by holding down the CNTL key. To select a block of items hold down the SHIFT key. Each column this list box may be sorted ascending or descending by clicking on the header of the column. If HPGL is selected the second column lists pen number and color. In this case the color can be ignored since the program assumes you are plotting using a physical pen and also assumes that you know what color ink is in your pens.

Map Properties

This area of the tab allows you to set the output color (for Postscript) and output line width for the screen colors selected in the list box on the left. In the pen width box the width of the pen is in the same units (inches or mm) as selected in the previous tab. Please note that pen widths can be zero. A zero width line will not necessarily scale properly, but will typically print very thin (and is generated very fast by the driver). This can be useful to get some thin lines with the existing 72dpi limitation in Postscript.

Printer Control File

This area of the dialog allows you to load and save Printer Control Files (PCP files). When the program runs it looks for a file called "default.pcp" in the pcp directory. If it does not find this file it initializes values in the dialog based on imperial units, and maps all output colors to match the screen colors. After you set the units, scale factor, and pen mappings to the way you use most often, save these settings to "default.pcp". There after the program will initialize to these settings.

It should be possible to read and use Intellicad© and AutoCAD© pcp files in this program.

5.3 Main Tab Box

There are three buttons at the bottom of this dialog.

Help - brings you to this manual page

Cancel - will cancel the dialog

Print - will print based on the settings selected.