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Moving vector image files from Windows to OS X Apps
First off, I'd like to state that this is somewhat of a Windows-related hint (and not an entirely new one, at that). It concerns a rather obvious method of moving printed output from a Windows 2000 PC over to OS X. Recently, I needed to move a bunch of map data from a Win2k PC to my Mac for editing with Macromedia FreeHand. The map data was from a GIS database product that ran only under Windows. What's more, the included viewer app was just that, a viewer app -- that didn't offer any way to export the image data. Yet the viewer did allow the maps to be printed, and it dawned on me that all I needed to do was find an appropriate Postscript printer driver for Windows, do a 'print to file', and I'd have a generic Postscript-encoded file of my maps. Since GIS and CAD apps work with vector-based data (usually with output to a plotter in mind), I made the assumption that if a Postscript driver were chosen, any vector-images printed through it would probably still contain line-based drawing primitives, rather than a rasterized bitmap. In short, I'd have a vector-based drawing of my data that could be easily resized and edited in any Postscript-capable drawing app. The following worked remarkably well:
  1. On a Windows PC, install the 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' virtual print driver, included with Win2K and later. See here for specific settings.
  2. When ready to print, select the aforementioned driver, enable the 'print to file' feature (in the standard Windows Print dialog), name the output file with a .ps extension, then print.
That's it! Now you have a generic Postscript file that can be moved over to OS X and loaded into a drawing app such as Freehand or Illustrator, or opened with Panther's Preview.app, perhaps for subsequent conversion to PDF. Please refer to this excellent article by Amir Herzberg for specific details on how to install and configure the Windows driver -- most of this hint is based on the information found there.

Read the rest of the hint for some helpful notes on the process...

Notes:
  • If you're trying to export a huge (or incredibly detailed) image, you may have to play with the page size and other parameters in order to achieve the proper level of detail in your output file. In my case, I had to specify a custom paper size with the impossibly large dimensions of 100"x100". This also relates to one of the reasons to use the 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' driver instead of another Postscript driver. Most drivers are tied to the hardware limitations of a specific printer and won't allow (seemingly) ridiculous page sizes to be selected.
  • I'm not entirely certain on what versions of Windows the described 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' driver appears. It may not be available on versions of Windows before Win2k, (what I'm running)
  • This process essentially converts your data into a drawing, with no concept of unit scaling, data sets, layers, or any other engineering metadata that may have existing within the original app. i.e. use this method to produce artwork, not as a kluge to transfer files between CAD or GIS apps.
  • While it's true that there are a number of 3rd party 'virtual PDF printer drivers' for Windows (see bottom of this page) that mimic OS X's 'Save to PDF' feature, they range in price and quality. In my case, I actually wanted a Postscript file, rather than a PDF, and I prefer the 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' driver simply because it's free and it's included as part of the native Windows 2000 install. You can count on it always being there, rather than having to download/install/register an external driver.
  • I specifically had vector-based output in mind when researching this method. Since Postscript also has the ability to encapsulate bitmapped data, the method described would probably work for any type of image. However, be aware that the printer imaging models in most operating systems will attempt to rasterize/re-render your image data to fit the capabilities of the selected printer. In other words, if you use the 'print to file' method for bitmaps, what you end up with may be an (adversely) transformed version of your image. Nevertheless, if this is your only option, you might want to investigate one of these drivers, which are specifically designed to export bitmapped images.
  • Only the OS X 10.3 version of Preview.app will open and convert Postscript (.ps) files. Nevertheless, there are numerous ways to convert Postscript files into other usable formats. Search macosxhints for 'postscript' and 'ghostscript' for a few ideas.

  • GENTLE REMINDER: The maps described in my example were extracted from a publicly available data source, with the end product intended entirely for private use. Without getting onto the entire digital rights miasma, a brief note: Just because something is technically possible, doesn't mean that it's always morally/legally allowable. Please respect the property of others
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Moving vector image files from Windows to OS X
Authored by: rhowell on May 24, '04 11:57:14AM

I think you can also add a new printer, and select the highest quality postscript printer you can find (Apple used to make some good ones). Then when you print, select that new printer and Print to File.



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Moving vector image files from Windows to OS X
Authored by: rhowell on May 24, '04 12:11:29PM

...and this method works for any version of windows (Win95 and up).



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Moving vector image files from Windows to OS X
Authored by: victory on May 24, '04 07:11:22PM

Yes, which is pretty much what the hint describes. (The 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' is a PS driver). Also, while it's true that just about any other PS-compabile driver should work, I believe this one was chosen because it doesn't offer any restrictions as to the page size of the output -- something that other product-specific PS drivers may have problems with.

I also agree that just about every version of Windows has had either a 'Print to file' option in the print dialog (or the ability to specify a FILE: device as a printer port). I was focusing my comments on the availability of the 'MS Publisher Imagesetter' driver itself. Thanks for the clarification.



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Adobe PS Printer
Authored by: kaih on May 24, '04 08:36:18PM
On Adobe's Website there is the Adobe PostScript Printer Driver that you can download for pretty much any version of Windows.
Using this, you can print to file, using a genuine Adobe PostScript printer driver (and, after all, Adobe wrote PostScript in the first place) and you can also specify huge custom page sizes.

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Why not go directly to PDF?
Authored by: gabidanon on May 25, '04 04:51:35AM

If you install PDFCreator on the PC, which is free, you can then print directly to PDF:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/



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