AutoCAD Civil 3D General Discussion

AutoCAD Civil 3D General Discussion

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coopdetat
Posts: 201
Registered: ‎03-25-2011
Message 1 of 6 (475 Views)

Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plotters"

475 Views, 5 Replies
06-21-2011 08:52 PM

The help file has said the following for some time now:

=============================================

The nonsystem raster driver supports several raster file formats, including Windows BMP, CALS, TIFF, PNG, TGA, PCX, and JPEG. The raster driver is most commonly used to plot to files for desktop publishing.

All but one of the formats supported by this driver produce “dimensionless” raster files that have size in pixels but do not have size in inches or millimeters...

=============================================

According to the help file the "### pixels = ### units" fields in the Plot Scale box of the plot dialog really have no meaning when raster plotting; however, I have been plotting precisely dimensioned raster plots (TIFF) since AutoCAD R14 so it amazes me that Autodesk still has no clue that their own Plot Scale fileds actually do assign a very specific dimension to every raster plot.  (A custom matching paper size is all that they are missing and its size is in dpi or pixels per inch)

 

Now in AutoCAD Civl 3D 2012 I finally committed to implementing point label styles.  I had some trouble getting the scale right at first.  The role that the page setup plays was the cause of the difficulty.  As long as the page setup does not include a raster plot device the size is exactly as expected.  I use the TIFF CCITT Compressed plotter device and Autodesk's conclusion that the output is hopelessly dimensionless results in very small labels as they make no effort to scale to the specified dpi or pixels per unit.

 

I need for Autodesk to look at their raster output again and make sure AutoCAD applies the dpi as specified in the page setup when scaling the labels whether the resulting output is "dimensionless" or not.  For instance, I use 288 dpi for a 34"x22" (ANSI-D) paper size (9792 pixels x 6336 pixels) and 216dpi for a 40"x28" (ANSI-F) paper size (8640 pixels x 6048 pixels)  These are multiples of 72 dpi which either Autodesk assigns or else defaults to the raster plots regardless of the specified dpi.  Multiples of 72dpi prevents interpolation of pixels when resizing the images from 72 dpi to the originally specified dpi of 288 (or 576 for half size prints).  This also keeps their size in any axis to less than 10,000 pixels which is a very important  requirement of most raster editors.  I use IrfanView, a free image app for the resize.  If this nice fella, Irfan, can give the world an app that can reset the dpi on a TIFF file I'm sure Autodesk can do it in their well paid for app.

 

I will have to abort my implementation of point style labels if they cannot get this right.  My project manager is already impatient with me.  He knows I would have already finished this work using my old method (w/o Civil 3D at all).  As it is, I am only 40% done with 11 miles of water main and as of now plotting will not work without some serious adulteration of my point label style sizes to effect the right label size.  (they will make absolutely no sense at all and will need to be reset  to use a non-raster plotter if I have to do this, which kinda defeats the whole purpose).

 

Why use Tiff? It has solved and is still solving a myriad of plotting problems and has done so for a decade.  It is fast, small, and can be printed exactly to scale on any device available by opening the TIFF in Adobe Acrobat and selecting the "None" scaling option (I have only needed this one plotter config for the past decade)  If I can figure out how to set the scale of a TIFF plot from AutoCAD I'm sure Autodesk can if they will just try.

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Civil Design Professional Since 1983 (Intergraph), AutoCAD since 1989
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - Service Pack 1
Intel﴾R﴿ Core﴾TM﴿ i7-3820 CPU 3.60GHz; 16 GB DDR3 Dual Channel RAM
nVidia Quadro 4000; AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014, sp1
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tcorey
Posts: 2,600
Registered: ‎12-18-2002
Message 2 of 6 (442 Views)

Re: Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plot

06-22-2011 10:44 PM in reply to: coopdetat

Not that this is a solution, but if you print to PDF and then convert to TIF, do your point labels come out the right size?

 

You obviously know what you're doing with the raster output and have good reason to use it, but I think dumping the use of TIFF and moving to PDF would solve your problem. First, it's not dimensionless. You can adjust resolution to let you create fast and small files. You're already opening your output files with Acrobat, so why not use Acrobat's native format?

 

My guess is that using Civil 3D points on your projects will save more time than using PDF will spend.

 

If you do decide to move to PDF (at least for a trial period) I would love to hear what soft of results you get and wheterh you have saved enough time with points to make up any small loss from outputting to PDF.

 

 

 

 

Tim Corey, Owner
Delta Engineering Systems
Redding, CA
Autodesk Authorized Value-Added Reseller
Mentor
coopdetat
Posts: 201
Registered: ‎03-25-2011
Message 3 of 6 (423 Views)

Re: Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plot

06-23-2011 07:03 PM in reply to: coopdetat

The reason for using a raster device (any of them work but TIFF provides the best compression for black and white output) is that it solves some very persistent and unacceptable problems that ALL other plot devices have, including PDF, even in 2012.  I discovered my TIFF solution to the problems back around 2002 and it has performed almost flawlessly for me since then.  There was just one glitch when 2007 format came out my masks quit masking but I finally discovered the solution to that glitch was to fade my masking images to anything less than 100% and they began masking again.  Why the difference?  idk.

 

The persistent problems are that wipeouts and images used for masking are not always rendered properly.  They may be strange colors, scaled, boxed (non-orthogonal shapes rendered as orthogonal shapes), distorted, shifted, black, etc., and these effects are randomly but frequently experienced.  I would hapily use any other device including PDF if they would just work properly 100% of the time.  My temporary fix for Autodesk's point label style blunder is to increase all of the applicable size values by 12.

 

I came up with 12 by measurung the display size of the labels when the values were properly specified and dividing that into the display size they should have been.  I could not be exact so I rounded it off.  I can find no reason or logic to explain the factor of 12.  I tried changing the units which seemed to be the logcal answer but that made absolutely no difference at all and that could not explain why all other plot devices cause the labels to display at their proper size.

 

My temporary fix would not be practical if it were not for the IMPORTSTYLESANDSETTINGS command.

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Civil Design Professional Since 1983 (Intergraph), AutoCAD since 1989
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - Service Pack 1
Intel﴾R﴿ Core﴾TM﴿ i7-3820 CPU 3.60GHz; 16 GB DDR3 Dual Channel RAM
nVidia Quadro 4000; AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014, sp1
*Expert Elite*
Sinc
Posts: 6,207
Registered: ‎11-18-2006
Message 4 of 6 (419 Views)

Re: Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plot

06-23-2011 07:40 PM in reply to: coopdetat

What method have you been using to create your PDFs?

 

I remember I used to have problems like that, but not in some time.  We did a couple of things around the same time, though...  One was we switched to using the "DWG to PDF.pc3" file that first shipped with the 2009 SAP, and was included in 2010.  The other was that we typically only saw the problem on one printer, and the lease on that printer was up, so we got a new printer on a new lease.

 

So whether it was switching PDF generator or switching to a newer printer, our problems went away.  And we've sent out a lot of PDFs to others, without any complaints about black blobs or outlines in place of background masks.  The only time we've run into issues is when someone tries to use Acrobat 6 to read our files - the "DWG to PDF.pc3" driver creates files incompatible with Adobe v6 and earlier - but that actually hasn't happened in some time, now that Adobe v6 is so old.

Sinc
Mentor
coopdetat
Posts: 201
Registered: ‎03-25-2011
Message 5 of 6 (405 Views)

Re: Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plot

06-24-2011 09:06 AM in reply to: Sinc

I did say TIFF solves a myriad of problems. Here are a few more of them: 

  • It takes about a minute per plot to plot using the DWG to PDF device and this time is similar for most of the non-raster devices.  Plotting the same file to TIFF takes 15 seconds.  TIFF saves a huge amount of time.
  • Using the Standard ANSI-D paper size with DWG to PDF will crop the top and bottom of my border in the output.  I might be able to tweak some settings to get this resolved, I might not, but why even try if I don't have to? TIFF will plot every pixel of the exact 34"x22" plot window faithfully, every time.
  • DWG to PDF will loose some of the shading (white instead of gray) depending upon the output device.  TIFF is a pure Black & White image where every discrete pixel is either black or white. Shades of gray are already mapped to an array of black and white pixels.  Nothing gets "translated" or "interpreted" by either Adobe or any other output device.  The image is always exactly the same on every output device.  Converting the TIFF to PDF afterwards is very quick and easy and provides the access to all of my printing/plotting devices.  Prints/plots are perfect and identical every time on any device.
  • I or anyone else with access to the original TIFF images can resize the resolution of an entire set in just seconds to get an exact and perfectly identical half-size set without ever having to replot a half-size set of the drawings.  Anyone can convert the TIFF images into PDF without using AutoCAD if they have Adobe Acrobat. The images can be resized from their original dpi to a half-size dpi and back again as many times as desired without any loss ever.  This frees up CAD techs to do more CAD work and less plotting increasing their productivity.
  • Our engineers and planners can access the ploted TIFF images directly at any time using only Windows Picture and FAX viewer.  Printing to scale requires that they be converted to PDF.  Adobe is the only app I know of that will allow users to explicitly NOT scale images and that is critical to get a true scale print.  Only Adobe PDF Reader is required to print the PDF's.

By using a TIFF plotter I no longer have to wrestle with anything about printing/plotting... ever.  I have a workaround for the erroneous scaling of point label styles already.  I just want Autodesk to acknowledge that raster images have a resolution and they have a fixed number of pixels for their width and height; therefore, they absolutely are and have always been dimensioned by their very definition.  DPI or Dots Per Inch specifies that the units are inches.  The width and height in inches is easily determined using simple mathematics on the pixel width and height.  Given that they are in fact dimensioned, they should scale their point label styles accordingly.  Furthermore, if the user specifies the DPI resolution in the plot dialog then, dang it, that ought to be the dpi setting in the resulting output!

---------------------------------------------Signature--------------------------------------------
Civil Design Professional Since 1983 (Intergraph), AutoCAD since 1989
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - Service Pack 1
Intel﴾R﴿ Core﴾TM﴿ i7-3820 CPU 3.60GHz; 16 GB DDR3 Dual Channel RAM
nVidia Quadro 4000; AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014, sp1
Mentor
coopdetat
Posts: 201
Registered: ‎03-25-2011
Message 6 of 6 (370 Views)

Re: Improper scaling of point label styles using "dimensionless raster plot

06-29-2011 10:22 AM in reply to: coopdetat

My beef with "dimensionless":

 

Hmmm, let me see, we specify an exact number of pixels-per-inch for the plot and the paper size has an exact number of pixels in both dimensions... sure! that's dimensionless isn't it?  I'll bet most 5th graders could tell you the dimensions of the raster plotter output.

---------------------------------------------Signature--------------------------------------------
Civil Design Professional Since 1983 (Intergraph), AutoCAD since 1989
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit - Service Pack 1
Intel﴾R﴿ Core﴾TM﴿ i7-3820 CPU 3.60GHz; 16 GB DDR3 Dual Channel RAM
nVidia Quadro 4000; AutoCAD Civil 3D 2014, sp1
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