Compass: The table of contents at the end of each linked page at this site lets you shift laterally to other local pages, get back to the xyWrite and xyW/PostScript index page ("overview"), download the zipped files the docs describe, and explore other resources. Navigational links "<top>/<toc>" are scattered throughout pages whose length justifies them.
Who will rid me of this infernal dependence
on developers with more important (to them)
things on their minds than my beloved old release?
You mean how can you make xyWrite 3 (or any elderly but robust
80x25 app) an evergreen and get a graphical preview?
Funny you should ask. Assuming you have a compelling reason for not taskswitching to the Windows version of your dos software to preview and print ... one word: PostScript.
|PostScript?!? I don't want a PS printer.||
You need no PS printer to use PS.
As popularly misunderstood, PostScript means a printer. Is not!
Adobe, which developed
PS, has made almost no effort to demystify it for PC users,
so this will take a minute. For purposes of this discussion,
let's pretend that BASIC is an interpreted language exclusively
(i.e., is not also a compiled language). Bear with me:
Platform-independent, PostScript is an interpreted computer
language ... just like BASIC.
A language? Not a printer?
|If MS had had the clout then it
has now it might have forced IBM to call XTs "BASIC PCs":
A BASIC language interpreter can be embedded on a chip
and in IBM XTs one was.
What makes any old printer, not necessarily even a laser
printer, a "PostScript printer" is an Adobe PostScript
language interpreter similarly embedded on a chip
|So what? My printer has no embedded PS chip.||
Embedded chips aren't the only form BASIC and PostScript
interpreters take. Both also are available as PC
software--the GW-BASIC interpreter for PC clones, or PostScript
interpreters that drive virtually any non-PS laser, inkjet,
or even dot matrix printer: e.g., Aladdin Ghostscript
freeware and user-friendly commercial software like the
first interpreter, LaserGo's GoScript.
|How do PS interpreters work?||
When instructed to print, an application's PostScript driver
writes PostScript language source code to memory. The app
can then copy this ascii file to a PS interpreter or to
disk, to be delivered later to an interpreter. The
interpreter transforms the ascii code into binary code
that peripheral devices--not necessarily even printers--
A PS software interpreter can renew an orphaned app?
If your app has a PostScript driver, yes. Your driver
dependency shifts from the app developer--who if still around
has other fish to fry--to a driver specialist, the software
interpreter developer, whose entire business rides on
providing universal up-to-date printer support. The
PostScript language matured a decade and a half ago. Once a
developer has written a PS interpreter, it's done. And once
the product has drivers that can send PS code translated
into PCL, IBM Proprinter, and Epson, etc., the developer
need merely stay abreast of new non-PS printer bells and
whistles. (Interpreters--software and many embedded in
hardware--offer little or no PS Level 2 or 3 support; an
app's driver that uses Level 2 or 3 instructions--XyWrite PS
drivers don't--also must work around their commonplace
|Does a software PS interpreter have any advantages over embedded PS?||
Besides printing PS code to virtually any laser, inkjet, or
dot matrix printer? Although PS hardware costs less than it
once did, PS software costs still less and is more flexible.
To wit: Software interpreters have screen as well as printer
drivers. Voila, a xyW3 graphical preview! If you aren't
wedded to editing the xyDos 4 preview, a s/w PS interpreter
lets you dump all those Bitstream screen fonts. Although
the image is uneditable per se, it is precise and needs no
screen fonts: Screen and printer drivers use the same Type 1
fonts. I used GoScript initially and at times still do to
print to a wide-carriage Canon Bubblejet. Buying a PS laser
printer didn't affect GoScript's importance to my system:
I never print to the laser without first hitting my xyW3
GS32 preview key.
So why would anybody buy a PS printer?
Like PCL, PostScript is a page description language,
thus an interpreter assembles all items on one page
before printing (line printers output line for line).
Software interpreters of course process in the PC, tieing
up the system for the duration--a much shorter time than
in XT days. And a laser gobbles up pages so fast (an
inkjet's a different story) speed is a problem only when
processing huge graphics files--unlikely with xyWrite.
Software PS interpreters reportedly may not render
exceedingly intricate graphics faithfully, a situation
outside my experience. The only true PostScript is Adobe
PostScript. Adobe doesn't compete with its chip licensees
by selling a software interpreter. All s/w interpreters
are clones. And software PS interpreters add a step to
the printing process. Note too, PS accepts only fonts
that speak the language, and your printer's resident fonts
are unlikely to unless it's a PS printer. Finally: An
interpreter that loads entirely in conventional memory uses
too much RAM to coexist with a word processor, even xyW; be
sure any s/w interpreter you get is 32bit so you can print
without having to quit your app.
|How do I print to a PS interpreter?||
When ready to print, be sure your app's PS driver is loaded.
A DOS app can copy directly to a PS interpreter the source
code the driver writes to memory only if the interpreter is
embedded in a printer. You also may instruct the app to copy
the source code from memory to disk (in xyW, tyf), e.g.,
to take the file to a service bureau that has high-res
imagesetters. With a s/w interpreter you must copy
the source code to disk, then "do" the interpreter. The
interpreter reads the file, transforms the source code
into code your non-PS printer understands, then sends it.
|How do I preview?||
After you print to disk, before you "do" the interpreter
configured for its driver for your printer, "do" it
configured for a screen driver. If you want to change
anything, edit the original file and hit your preview key
Preview key? I can automate these processes?
Easily. XyW is especially well-suited to software PS
interpreters because it allows seamless integration.
|Why is PostScript such a big deal anyway?||
Digital printing quality doesn't get any better. PostScript
is the publishing industry standard globally. So you can get
any font you'd ever want as a top-quality Type 1 or Type 0
font. The same tyf'd file will print to any device from your
screen or mine to tractor paper in a 9pin dm to photographic
paper in the highest-res imagesetter to a T-shirt in
whatever kind of equipment prints on cotton.
|So why do I hear horror stories?||
In practice, PS is as good or bad as any given driver lets
it be. The driver's PS prolog (a xyW driver's fb<)--the
set of app-specific definitions used in the body of the
code--determine how faithful to intent printing is, and
how troublefree. Apps have various PS drivers to employ
device-specific code but the prolog--the code that puts
the marks on the medium--is common to all. If a developer
trips up in coding for a particular printer, probs are
inevitable. That applies equally to app and software
PS interpreter developers.
|Which driver should I load with a software PS interpreter?||
Your interpreter's documentation should specify which PS
driver to load. The plainer the app's PS driver the better.
All the interpreter wants is information on what marks to
put on paper, screen, or whatever; hardware-specific code is
unwelcome. Since it's the interpreter's driver that
addresses the hardware, configure the interpreter--not the
xyW PS driver--for resolution and other device-specific
|Say I do decide to buy a PS printer: Can I get a xyWrite driver for it?||
Only TTG can answer that. If no, you can adapt any xyW PS
driver. The marks xyWrite makes to paper--determined by the
driver's fb<--are the same whatever the interpreter, but
to use device-specific features--e.g., duplex, you might
need to get your hands dirty.
How much do software interpreters cost and where are they?
What may be two remaining DOS software PS interpreters
(I suspect that Windows, Adobe Type Manager, and falling
PS printer prices made Ultrascript and Freedom of Press
history) are related only nominally. Aladdin and the pioneer
software PS interpreter developer LaserGo are commercial
developers that derive primary revenues from OEM deals.
Aladdin gives Ghostscript to end users apparently in lieu
of the documentation, support, and services that LaserGo
could no longer provide if it gave away GoScript 32.
Where the San Diego mom 'n' pop operation LaserGo maintains
a Web site, e.g., Palo Alto-based Aladdin directs queries
to comp.lang.postscript. Since implementation queries aren't
the business of a language newsgroup, most PS programmers
have fled, so if you have Ghostscript probs you may have
trouble getting an authoritive solution.
LaserGo offered XyWrite and NotaBene users an exclusive deep discount for a limited time on DOS GoScript 32--a real bargain while it lasted. GoScript 32's developer tells me he'd have to close shop if he lowered the stiff list price permanently. Ghostscript freeware is keystrokes away. Ghostscript's reputation lives up to Aladdin's warning that it's not for the faint of heart, but reports on installation of the current release have been encouraging. I've never tried Ghostscript or its free fonts; if you run into trouble and Russell Lang or L. Peter Deutsch can't help, remember GoScript 32 and that PostScript is a mature technology. Once you buy GS32, that's that. I consider it as crucial as xyWrite to my PC use. Each is one of a kind.
GoScript and Ghostscript also come in Windows versions and have more competition there. Adobe Type Manager enables apps native to any gui where it's resident to use Type 1 fonts with any printer. Contrary to a common misperception, this highly useful utility is not a PS interpreter.
|Where do I get fonts?||
Freeware Type 1 (downloadable-to-printer) fonts are widely
available, but Type 1 fonts usually are worth what you pay
for them. At the other end of the scale are Adobe
fonts--top quality, top dollar. SoftMaker, also in San Diego,
sold fonts of comparable quality at reasonable prices,
but is out of business. However: the FontSite
500 CD is "a selection of 500 fonts [at least half TTF]
assembled from the SoftMaker/ATF type library"; US$29.95
plus applicable sales tax and $5-per-disk U.S. shipping. You
can download two of the fonts free from FontSite. The operation
seems to have moved to Washington state, but it too was
in San Diego. A book on font design the site owner wrote
has a different fonts CD bundled. [I'm leaving this
information here for now in hopes that my inability
to raise FontSite is a temporary condition.
--a | 1 January 2001] Beyond that, check software
stores and catalogs and Usenet.
|How do I install new Type 1 fonts in my old xyWrite PS driver?||
For xyW3, try the !T1_TNT xpl driver table generator. !T1_TNT includes v4 data that will give a leg up to anyone who wants to port it.
|If PS source code is ascii, can humans as well as drivers write it?||
That's emphatically not a necessity, but ... you bet! PS
code is xyWritable and editable, a big bonus if you learn a
little PS programming. That let me customize a driver that
adds amazing flexibility to xyW3 (I replaced fb< with a
graphical app's prolog), and get effects from other apps the
developers left out by adding procedures to their PS prologs.
Like many prologs, xyWrite's fails to take full advantage of PS's rich possibilities. XyQuest's driver, e.g., omitted encoding for many chars in the PS extended character set and TTG didn't upgrade that part of the driver for xyDos 4. They may be the very reason you want to use PostScript. Learn a little PS, and you can encode them yourself. If you store code that will go to PS hardware, be sure to omit xyWrite's persistent invisible eof marker (a !xyWiz pgm !!! option).
Just as XyQuest always emphasized xyWrite's word processing
features over its stunning virtues as a front end, LaserGo
pushes GoScript's printing features over its virtues as
a PS programming IDE. GoScript has an interactive mode
that splits the screen vertically and in the right half
interprets before your eyes code that you run or input
manually at the gs> prompt at screen left. Great for
debugging or playing. Quite markets
a professional interpreter and promotes its debugging
Hmmm. I do want PostScript quality and
a customized driver, but a programmer I'm not.
Do any professionals customize xyWrite PS drivers?
Maybe. NotaBene/PostScript expert Tony St. Quintin builds NB drivers for a fee. XyWrite 3 (by extension, NB) and xyDos 4 PS drivers are similar enough I'm confident Tony could handle a custom driver for either xyWrite version.
|Read any good books lately?||Alas, neither www nor the
bookshelf has any help I'm aware of on trouble-shooting drivers.
A PS programming beginner's guide I've never looked at is on the Web.
If you have professional experience in typography or design, the most resourceful hands-on guide to using PostScript to the max is Gerard Kunkel's Graphic design with PostScript (Scott, Foresman; ISBN 0-673-38794-1), sadly OOP. If you ever come across a copy you'll be very lucky indeed. Kunkel programmed the (eventually incomprehensible) 3D graphs PCMag used to illustrate product surveys in the '80s, and his book is rich with code for practical applications-- including those once-pervasive 3D graphs. ...
Indispensable to neophyte PS programmers:
WWW PS resources?
Way too many to enumerate. Those mentioned above are:
Uh-huh. Whatever. What can you tell me about
a non-PostScript driver specific to the unsupported
printer I just bought?
Nothing. I'm not now and never have been a driver or printer expert, I just know something about PostScript (the last time I gave any thought to non-PS printer issues was better than a decade ago). Maybe your printer manufacturer's tech support can help, maybe TTG can. Sorry, I can't.
Again, funny you should ask. Ironic, isn't it, that
Adobe poisoned its legacy app fountain of youth
by buying the MasterSoft filter operation and selling
it to Inso, which
killed the product.
But I guess Adobe and Inso were on to something. Now that I finally have xyWin and nbWin up to speed on a PC with enough hardware clout to render their graphical view, if I ever again have occasion to print hard copy, after writing and editing with xyWrite 3 I'll probably preview simple stuff with xyWin or nbWin before printing with a win9x PostScript driver, or in the case of my old b&w tabloid-page BubbleJet a Canon driver plus ATM.
more about ...
!xyWise modular utilities !xyWiz
!xyWiz Web assistant
!xyWWWiz html color chart
xyWrite 3+ overlay
xplWise tech reference and instructions
(you are here)
Make legacy apps eternal:
get the NAQ
PostScript Type 1 font xyWrite driver tables
non-xyW kbd notes
Signature+ xpl notes
|adpFisher nyc 4 july 2001|