Spring 91 - PRINT HINTS FROM LUKE & ZZ
PRINT HINTS FROM LUKE & ZZ
COLOR PRINTING WITH LASERWRITER 6.0 REVISITED
PETE "LUKE" ALEXANDER and Zz
With the release of 32-Bit QuickDraw version 1.0, Apple wanted to find a way to support color
printing on the high-end (albeit black-and-white) LaserWriter® II, as well as other, third-party
devices. So, the great implementors (GIs) created a new LaserWriter driver--version 6.0. This
driver added a new Color/Grayscale button to the print dialog, allowing users to print their "way
cool" color pictures that were created with 32-Bit QuickDraw. All was happy in the land of Apple's
new color model. But wait! There was a problem lurking on the horizon, a problem called the
PostScript Offending Command Error.
Imagine this scenario: You've just created a cool 32-Bit QuickDraw picture, a true masterpiece, and
all seems to be going well. You decide to print your picture and show it off to Mom. You choose
Print from the File menu; the print dialog appears, and you click OK. A few minutes pass, and voilà:
a printed page containing your picture. Life is gooood.
With this success, you're now dreaming of other pictures that you'll be able to create and print. You
create another cool 32-bit picture. You choose Print from the File menu; the print dialog appears,
and you click OK. A few minutes pass, and this time the PostScript Offending Command Error
dialog appears, looking something like this:
Error: LimitCheck; Offending Command: 080AGOBBLEDEGOOK0B
What's this? An offending command? But all you wanted to do was print your color picture. You
were able to print your first picture a few minutes ago. What's going on? Unfortunately,
LaserWriter driver version 6.0 does not reliably print images that are deeper than 8 bits. We won't
bore you with the details: just think of the LaserWriter driver as a shark, ready to swallow a surfer
off the California coast. But instead of the surfer dude it was expecting, in rushes the surfer dude's
surfboard. The LaserWriter driver chokes on deeper images just as our poor shark chokes on the
surfboard; the driver is ready to receive a particular variable but occasionally receives something
different, and doesn't know what to do with it. The result: the PostScript Offending Command
Error. Life is no longer so good; your dreams are beginning to fade away. But I can see a solution
appearing on the horizon . . .
Actually, there are three possible solutions: you can use LaserWriter driver version 6.1 (or version
7.0 when it's available); you can depth-convert your image from 32 bits to 8 bits using 32-Bit
QuickDraw; or you can use the PostScript ® image operator to generate PostScript code for your
image, and send it directly down to the LaserWriter. Let's look at each solution.
Using LaserWriter driver version 6.1 is the simplest solution. LaserWriter driver version 6.1 likes
data of any depth, no matter when it's sent. So, if you're printing to LaserWriter driver version 6.1,
life is happy when you're printing your 32-bit images--but how can you be sure that you're using
LaserWriter driver version 6.1?You can call PrDrvrVers, which is provided by the Printing Manager to enable your application to
determine which version of a particular printer driver you're talking to. But there's a minor problem
with this call. You don't know if you're talking to a PostScript LaserWriter or some other device.
So, you must dive into the bowels of the print record for additional information. You need to check
the high byte of the wDev field of the TPrStl record to determine a particular driver and version.
But wait! You thought checking wDev was evil. In this case, using wDev is OK because you're not
checking for particular functionality of a driver, and thereby not making your code device
dependent. If wDev is 3, you know that you're talking to a PostScript LaserWriter. Non-PostScript
LaserWriters (for example, the LaserWriter IIsc) have a different value for the wDev field. You
would then call PrDrvrVers to determine if you're talking to LaserWriter driver version 6.1. If
PrDrvrVers returns 61, you know that you're using LaserWriter driver version 6.1, and life is good
again. If wDev is 3, and the driver version is less than 61, you're not using LaserWriter driver
version 6.1, so you have a little more work to do: try the next solution.
The next possible solution is to use 32-Bit QuickDraw to depth-convert your 32-bit image to 8 bits by
using 32-Bit QuickDraw's GWorld support. You would first create an 8-bit GWorld containing a
grayscale CLUT, and use CopyBits to copy your 32-bit image into it. You would then use CopyBits to
copy the 8-bit image directly into the printer's grafPort, and voilà--your image would be printing.
This approach works with LaserWriter driver version 6.0 and later.
Your final option is to use the PostScript image operator to generate PostScript code that represents
your 32-bit image. This approach is a little more complex than the 32-Bit QuickDraw idea. To send
your data down to the LaserWriter, you would need to use the PostScriptHandle PicComments with
the image operator. If you're already sending PostScript code to the LaserWriter, this is probably the
By the way, if you don't have a copy of LaserWriter driver version 6.1, it's available on theDeveloper
Essentials disc. If you want to ship this version of the driver with your application, you should contact
Apple Software Licensing for the details.
In conclusion, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we've fixed the
32-bit image printing problem that was present in LaserWriter driver versions 6.0, 6.0.1, and 6.0.2.
LaserWriter driver version 6.1 will allow you to print pictures that are 1 bit to 32 bits deep without
any problems. The bad news is that if you want your application to print all depths of pictures with
LaserWriter driver version 6.0, you're going to need to do a little extra work, either depth-
converting your pictures from 32 bits to 8 bits before print time, or using the PostScript image
operator to generate PostScript code for your image. Now that's not so bad, is it?
PETE "LUKE" ALEXANDER spends much of his Developer Technical Support time diving deep into the bowels of the Printing
Manager, where he never turns up his nose at a challenge or at odiferous code that needs explaining. Although that kind
of diving is fun, he prefers the balmy blue waters of anyplace (preferably far from computers) that has both beach and
beer close together. If he can't get away from it all on the beach somewhere, he'll settle for getting above it all in his
glider; with Luke, being up in the air about something takes on
a whole new meaning. Fortunately, not everything on the horizon is blue sky. Luke's looking forward to the cool new
printing architecture that will make his job (and yours) a lot easier. He's preparing for this new architecture by spending a
week sailing around the Caribbean--figuring that he'd better start getting used to a life of leisure. Until that leisure can
become a lifestyle, you can count on seeing lots from Luke. *
For details regarding the use of the PostScriptHandle PicComments, take a look at Technical Note #91, Optimizing for the
For details about depth-converting your 32-bit images or using the PostScript image operator, see Technical Note #72,
Color Printing. *