Monday, 19 November 2007

HPGL/2 plot files to a HP DesignJet 500

Bentley Microstation Plot Files to a TCP/IP printer under OS X/Classic

A customer was using Bentley Microstation for Architectural Drawings. They use OS 9 (Classic) to run Microstation and were having to send the plots manually to a machine running Classic to print through a serial port to a DesignJet 430. Ideally, the customer wanted to move the entire printing onto a new HP DesignJet 500 which is just the bees knees.

The problem is that Microstation for OS 9 is just not built for a network aware environment (the UNIX and Windows versions are). No matter how much I played with the HPGL/2 hpdesign.plt I couldn't get it to see anything on the network (Samba shares, AFP....). It just doesn't play nicely with OS X. Plotutil (a batching conduit for Microstation doesn't know about TCP/IP or remote printer spools). So I read up on the plotfile output from Microstation and it turns out that it is a generic HPGL/2 file. All I needed to do was send it to the Plotter.

The HPGL/2 card supports printing via ftp - simply login with any username/password, set the mode to bin and put the file onto the printer. Wahey. Lovely plots result.

Two installs of CyberDuck later and we had a drag and drop replacement for PlotUtil.

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