Alan Sharp

Plotbox Plotting in TBC

Discussion created by Alan Sharp on Jun 13, 2019
Latest reply on Jul 3, 2019 by Bevan Macdonald

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