A question consistently asked of those of us in the plotting support group pertains to outputting a plotfile directly to a plotter or printer, rather than having to create a plotfile first before outputting the resultant plotfile to a plotter or printer.
There is one particular case where creating a plotfile first and then outputting it to the plotter is the recommended choice. The case in point: The user is creating a postscript-based or RTL-based plotfile from Image Manager, Bentley Descartes, or Raster Manager with imbedded raster data. This is due to the size of the raster data, the time needed to create the plotfile, and the memory buffering requirements on the plotter device. The resultant plotfile should then be copied to the UNC path for the printer from a DOS command prompt via the following command:
copy/b plotfilename \\plotservername\printersharename.
Here, plotservername is the server node name that controls the printer in question, and printersharename is the share name of the printer on that print server.
The default on most plotter driver files is set to output the plot to a plotfile. This is controlled by the following line in the plotter driver file:
default_extension/auto_incExt = '000'.
The switch /auto_incExt will increment the extension for subsequent plotfiles from the same design file, so that the first copy will have a .000 extension, the second will have a .001 extension, and so forth.
You can remove the /auto_incExt switch, allowing each subsequent plot from the same design file to overwrite the first one placed.
There is another line in the plotter driver file that will enable, by default, writing the plotfile to the lpt1 port on the PC:
;default_outFile/auto_overwrite = "lpt1".
You will notice there is a semicolon (;) in front of this line by default, which results in this line being commented out. If the semicolon is removed, the default action of this plotter driver file is to send the resultant plot to lpt1, rather than to create a plotfile first.
The entry "lpt1" may also be replaced by a valid UNC path to the printer or plotter. The line should then look something like:
default_outFile/auto_overwrite = "\\plotservername\printersharename". Again, plotservername is the server node name that controls the printer in question, and printersharename is the share name of the printer on that print server.
As a result of making this modification, there will be an indication in MicroStation reading "Finished creating plot." The plot will be automatically spooled to the plotter or printer specified. If you receive an error stating "Unable to create or overwrite plotfile," the path specified is most likely not valid. A good troubleshooting tool is to open a DOS Command prompt, and enter the following command:
net view \\plotservername
This will display any shared devices from the specified workstation, and also provide their share name.