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.


Drive away the new-printer legacy-app blues
(answers to never-asked questions)

(Consider downloading this page to read offline,
and note that it is part of the !T1_TNT bundle)

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 inside.

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-- can understand.

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 absence.)

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 again.

Preview key? I can automate these processes?

  Easily. XyW is especially well-suited to software PS interpreters because it allows seamless integration.
  • Write an xpl pgm that
    • tyf's
    • waits for printing to finish
    • incorporates--preceded by do commands and associated
      with various xyW CMline arguments--the various instructions
      to preview and print that your interpreter's documentation
      says to issue at the system prompt
  • Then write .kbd sequences that run the pgm with the CMline args and
  • assign them in *.kbd.
When you're ready to preview or print, hit a key. Voila.

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 features.

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).

Software resources?

  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 features.

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:

  1. Ross Smith: Learning PostScript: a visual approach (Peachpit Press; ISBN 0-938-151-122-6). Everybody's fave PS programming primer: fundamentals as graphical haiku, the first book I pull out for reference; Smith's treatment of software interpreters, including GoScript's interactive mode, is singular (LaserGo sells the book at discount.)
Addison-Wesley publishes several PS programming books. Particularly valuable:
  1. Adobe Systems Inc.: PostScript language reference manual, second edition (ISBN 0-201-18127-4). The Red Book; 765 dry-as-dust Authoritative pages. The bible. [Whoops. I believe a new edition has been around for quite a while, but I've mislaid the ISBN and precise title. --a | 14 jan 2001]

  2. Henry McGilton/Mary Campione: PostScript by example (ISBN 0-201-63228-4). As attractive as Smith, with more depth, thus a bit less accessible, but easier to swallow than the Red Book. [You may or may not be able to lay hands on this. Computer Book Works had a few remaindered copies, but when I looked the other day I didn't see any. --a | 9 april 2001]
WWW PS resources?

  Way too many to enumerate. Those mentioned above are:
Adobe software developer, author and owner of the language
GoScript 32 (software: DOS or Windows)
Quite at Home: aandi inston's "PS, PSAlter, psalters, tea, small furry animals": highly recommended site, links much better than these; Tony St. Quintin swears by the (unfortunately pricey) software
Zeno (software: Windows-only): hmmm ... still out there?
Ghostscript (software: DOS, un*x, or Windows)
L. Peter Deutsch (Ghostscript)
Russell Lang (Ghostscript)
plus ...
NotaBene/PostScript expert Tony St. Quintin
builds NB drivers for a fee
my friendly neighborhood discount computer books store, which I hope it's safe to say is in the business of selling "new, old, and hard-to find computer books"--not building a massive data base of your shopping habits. This is where my entire PS library--a dozen or so books--came from.
Adobe font library
FontSite 500 [typeface] CD (extinct???)
PS programming beginner's guide
Usenet fonts news group
Here's a select list of others:
"Library Card for access" to ...
Don Lancaster's GURU's LAIR: Lancaster is a longtime, indefatigable PS proselytizer and offers a zillion utilities; the site is very busy graphically--you'll have to dig to find them
That nice Mayura once-freeware EPS editor has evolved into shareware, but for $15 it may offer all you need
unexamined fonts links
comp.fonts FAQ
fonts information and samples
comp.fonts: Foundries on the Net online font catalogs
Tiro font 'catalogue in progress'
Dick Weltz "Language News & Notes"
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.
Last words?   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.



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adpFisher nyc 4 july 2001