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Plotbox Plotting in TBC

  • 1.  Plotbox Plotting in TBC

    Posted 06-13-2019 09:42

    There has been quite a bit of traffic by both email and through the forum on the issue of Printing to PDF using the Plotbox Function as a basis and the standard Print commands to run a Print to PDF Driver that provides some additional flexibility for output to PDF at different resolutions.


    Problem Statement 1

    We have had some reports from different sources that at times the Print function using a Plotbox and a third party Print to PDF Driver fails to output the color image of e.g. a Cut Fill Map or an Elevation Color Map or an Aerial Image etc. correctly - it appears that the color raster image gets cut of part way and the remainder does not print.  


    This problem I believe can in many instances be resolved through use of a better Print to PDF Driver TBC in general works well in this mode, however there are two known issues with the recent TBC v5.10 Release


    1. When using Plotbox Method, the Printout does not fit the sheet in the way defined by the Plotbox
    2. When using the Sheet Method and Printing Using a third Party Print to PDF Driver (Appears to be any driver) scaling is not getting passed correctly causing the printouts to be of a different size on the paper than full sheet - I am still investigating this one. The Print to PDF function with Save to File however works just fine.



    This is a huge challenge for us to reproduce to a point of reliability so that developers can track the issue because the source of the issue could be


    1. The Project / Data of the Project
    2. The Hardware you are running on - Processor, Graphics Card, Graphics Memory, RAM, Available Hard Disk Space, Project Storage location - local hardware or corporate server, access to Project (Web / Internet or VPN or Ethernet etc.)
    3. The Print to PDF Driver that you are using - there are some fairly basic ones that ship with Windows, and there are many others that get installed by the other applications that many of you also have installed on your PC (Civil 3D, Bluebeam, Carlson, Microstation, AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, Autodesk TrueView so on), and there are literally hundreds of other third party drivers out there as well from Adobe, Cute PDF, Acroplot and more.
    4. The settings that you can apply to the Print to PDF Process - The size of the Sheet, the DPI of the image, and then a lot of these up market drivers also have compression etc technologies and settings for those also - so the combination of settings also has a role.



    When we create a Printout to a Plotter, Printer or through a Driver to a PDF or Image File, we write the Linework and Text as Linework (Vectors) and Text and we write the Image Data (CF Maps, Elevation Maps, Aerial Imagery etc.) as Raster data. Our standard output to PDF through the Sheet Plotting picks and uses a standard DPI for the output that generates High Resolution / High Quality Output. That maybe higher than you actually need, and can generate a larger file than you may want - I hear reports that the file has to be sent by email and some companies limit the size of the email attachments they can receive - and they restrict access to Dropbox type services - so to meet those needs, people use PDF Print Drivers that can reduce the output resolution to e.g. 96 DPI or 150 DPI so that the files get smaller so that they can be sent within the attachment limits. 


    It is clear that adding multiple pages or increasing the size of the pages and increasing the DPI of the Raster Imagery will all increase the size of the file that you create - some drivers limit the Paper Size and the DPI that you can select for this reason, others allow more flexibility. The reverse is also true - reducing the number of pages, the DPI of Raster Imagery and the Page Size will reduce the file size of the resulting file.


    What is also something that you cannot control is the output resolution from TBC - that is a fixed parameter so if e.g. TBC uses 300 DPI, increasing the output PDF to 1200 DPI will have zero value - the image cannot become a better resolution than what we are outputting. So you will see a limit to improved resolution at the TBC Limit of Output. I will get that value for you and post it here shortly.


    PDF Print Drivers

    I have personally tried a number of different Print to PDF Drivers - I have seen differences in output control capability of these as well as in Page collection management etc. I have not seen the Plotbox Printing issue listed earlier in this post on my computer with any of these Drivers - that is not to say that it is not possible or that it could not happen, I don't produce a lot of outputs so I don't use it as much as maybe you do as users. I am however trying to work out when and why this is happening in order to get a better picture from you as users to see if we can track this down. You can also try to use any of these drivers to see whether the Driver makes a difference. 


    If any of you have used / do use a specific driver, if you could post information here for others that would be helpful. Please include


    • A Web URL Address where the driver can be found on the Web
    • Indicate whether it is free or chargeable - indicate the price if possible
    • Name the supplier company
    • Provide typical use details like Paper Size, DPI Settings or other things that you may define
    • Provide a summary of its Capability and Performance
    • Provide a list of the benefits that the driver provides to you over and above standard drivers and setups
    • Note if you have ever seen a problem with Printing to PDF / Printer that cuts off the Imagery or Linework
    • If you have a Project where it fails please provide the project and the settings of the Driver that you know make it fail (provide screen grabs in a document attachment of all settings pages) so we have a chance to recreate the issue


    Some Print to PDF Drivers that I have Used Successfully


    Name of DriverURL AddressSupplierComments / Benefits
    Cute PDF Software

    Works well

    Free with Cute PDF Writer which is also free


    Wide range of paper sizes

    A2, A3, A4, A5, A6

    B1, B2, B3, B4, B5

    11x17, 22x36, 24x108, 24x48, 24x60, 24x72, 24x84

    24x96, 36x108, 36x42, 36x60, 36x72, 36x84, 36x96, 8.5x10

    ARCH A, B, C, D, E, E1

    Tabloid, Executive, Statement, Folio, Ledger, Legal, Letter

    ISO A0, A1, A2

    ISO - B1


    72, 144, 300, 600, 1200, 2400, 3600, 4000 DPI options


    ICM Color Management

    ICM Intent

    Scaling %

    True Type Font Management

    Page Layout Options

    Post Script Options

    PDF Report Writer

    Very flexible PDF writer 


    A4, A5, A6 Paper Sizes

    Legal and Letter Paper Sizes

    Custom Paper Sizes


    72, 96, 144, 150, 300, 360, 600, 720, 1200, 1440, 2400, DPI 


    Portrait / Landscape


    Many Page Collation and Layout Options

    Many Graphics Compression Options

    Security and Encryption Options

    Enable Watermarks

    Email, Profiles, and Languages

    Microsoft Print to PDF,com


    Click Here for Help


    I believe this is a Windows standard driver



    Doesnt really provide anything other than a pass through of TBC Output into a PDF File. No option to downsize images etc. in the PDF File. 


    A3, A4, A5, B4, B5

    Letter, Legal, Executive, Statement, Tabloid


    Portrait / Landscape

    Snagit 13

    Installs with Snagit Application

    I have found it to work well to create 200 and 300DPI A4 / Letter Size printouts to PDF or Image Formats

    Cost is ~$50 for Snagit and that includes the Driver


    Print to A4, Legal, Letter

    Color / Black and White

    100, 200, 300, 600 DPI output

    Image Color Management Capability (None, Host or Printer)

    Image Color Management Intent (Picture, Graphic, Proof)

    Open in Snagit Editor - Can output as any Image or PDF Output


    Please add others as you see fit




  • 2.  Re: Plotbox Plotting in TBC

    Posted 07-03-2019 14:14

    Is anybody still getting this issue because no matter what I do I cant get a plot out to size on PDF. I have tried this on multiple computers using 5.1 and have the same issue. There is one bloke here who still has version 5.0 and this is not an issue. PDF's come out fine on 5.0





  • 3.  Re: Plotbox Plotting in TBC

    Posted 07-03-2019 14:29


    This is a known issue with Plotbox in v5.1, it has been fixed and there

    will be a patch next week after the Trimble US Shutdown this week. I have

    tested and verified the fix and it is working fine again. Apologies for



    Plotting using the Sheet Layout  approach works fine, that is the best

    solution to the problem in v5.1 currently. There are videos on the forum

    covering how to do this if you need them.




    On Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 3:15 PM <

  • 4.  Re: Plotbox Plotting in TBC

    Posted 07-03-2019 14:38

    Hey Alan. Thanks heaps for the reply. Look forward to the patch.