The printing system for Xic and WRspice provides a number of built-in drivers for producing output in various file formats. In Windows, an additional ``Windows Native'' driver uses the operating system to provide formatting, thus providing support for any graphical printer known to Windows. The data formats are selected from a drop-down menu available in the Print panel. The name of the currently selected format is displayed on the panel.
Except for the ``Windows Native'' driver all formatting is done in the Xic/WRspice printer drivers, and the result is sent to the printer as "raw" data. This means that the selected printer must understand the format. In practice, this means that the printer selected must be a PostScript printer, and one of the PostScript formats used, or the printer can be an HP Laserjet, and the PCL format used, etc. The available formats are listed below.
The Windows Native driver should be used when there is no other choice. If the printer has an oddball or proprietary interface, then the Windows Native driver is the one to use. However, for a PostScript printer, better results will probably be obtained with one of the built-in drivers. The same is true if the printer understands PCL, as do most laser printers. This may vary between printers, so one should experiment and use whatever works best.
In the Unix/Linux versions, selecting a page size from the Media menu will load that size into the entry areas that control printed image size. This is the only effect, and there is no communication of actual page size to the printer. This is true as well under Windows, except in the Windows Native driver. Microsoft's driver will clip the image to the page size before sending it to the printer, and will send a message to the printer giving the selected paper size. The printer may not print if the given paper size is not what is in the machine. Thus, when using this driver, it is necessary to select the actual paper size in use.
|ppm, pnm, pgm||Portable Bitmap (netpbm)|
Under Microsoft Windows, an additional feature is available. If the word ``clipboard'' is entered in the File Name text box, the image will be composed in the Windows clipboard, from where it can be pasted into other Windows applications. There is no file generated in this case.
On Unix/Linux systems, if you have the open-source ImageMagick or netpbm packages installed then many more formats are available, including GIF and PDF. These programs are standard on most Linux distributions. The imsave system, which is used to implement this driver and otherwise generate image files, employs a special search path to find helper functions (convert from ImageMagick, the netpbm functions, cjpeg and djpeg). The search path (a colon-delimited list of directories) can be provided in the environment variable IMSAVE_PATH. If not set, the internal path is ``/usr/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin''. The helper function capability is not available under Microsoft Windows.
The choice between PostScript line draw and bitmap formats is somewhat arbitrary. Although the data format is radically different, the plots should look substantially the same. A bitmap format typically takes about the same amount of time to process, independent of the data shown, whereas a line draw format takes longer with more objects to render. For very simple layouts and all schematics and WRspice plots, the line draw formats are the better choice, but for most layouts the bitmap format will be more efficient.
The necessary preamble for Encapsulated Postscript (EPSF-3.0) is included in all PostScript files, so that they may be included in other documents without modification.