TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Postscript IDE Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Programming Techniques

A Postscript IDE via a BBEdit Plug-In

By Larry Taylor

Using BBEdit + Distiller + Acrobat to create postscript files with a minimum of fuss

Introduction

Seven or eight years back, MacTech devoted an issue to the postscript page description language and neat things that you could do with it (Vol. 9, 1993, Issue 4). This briefly inspired me to try some things I'd wanted to do, but the lack of any sort of programming environment was a real hindrance - sending your code to a printer and waiting to see what happens is slow, frustrating and a big waste of paper. When Adobe came out with Distiller, life improved some. You could write your code using a text editor (such as BBEdit), open the file in Distiller and then read the resulting pdf file using Reader. All in all, not too bad. This got me doing postscript programming again, but it wasn't a true Mac experience. Ideally, I wanted to be able to type some code, execute some key combination that compiles the code, and then execute another key combination and have the results displayed.

In volume 14, 1998, Issue 6, MacTech had an article on BBEdit plug-ins by Steve Sheets. I read the article with some interest, but as all of his examples dealt with manipulating text in BBEdit windows, nothing clicked and I passed on, Then one day it occurred to me that there must be commands for file manipulation as well. After all, there is the old chestnut "Send Postscript" that I had first used to send my postscript files to the printer. It ought to be possible to write a plug-in to mimic "Send Postscript" but using Distiller and Acrobat instead of a printer: specifically, a plug-in with the following behavior.

Take the text in the front window and find the associated file. Use some rule to associate a pdf file to BBEdit file and find it. If the modification date on the pdf file is older than that on the BBEdit file, send the BBEdit file to Distiller; otherwise send the pdf file to Reader or Acrobat.

The rest of this article describes such a plug-in and how you can code it and get it working. I will try to duplicate as little of Steve Sheets' article as possible, subject to this article's being self-contained, so for a detailed discussion of how BBEdit plug-ins work, go read Sheets' article.

Caveats and Quibbles

I have used this plug-in for several months but it is not a commercial quality postscript development environment. It works quite well for small projects and I recommend it for doing eps files. If you would like a postscript file to start on, http://www.nd.edu/~taylor/ComputerStuff/Postscript/graphpaper.html will get you a simple postscript program for graphing functions together with some additional examples.

Here are a some minor annoyances and their work-arounds.

  1. You have to invoke the plug-in twice to get from changes in your postscript code to the displayed pdf file. Live with it.
  2. If you leave the pdf file open in Acrobat and try to distill the BBEdit file again, Distiller puts up an error message that it can't delete the pdf file and halts. Just close the pdf file and try again.
  3. When you invoke the plug-in the application being called comes to the foreground. You need to get back to BBEdit to run the plug-in again. Since the Distiller window is small, a simple mouse click will do the trick. Since any error messages you may generate appear in the Distiller window, it is actually a feature to have it foremost. The Acrobat window is usually large and getting back to the BBEdit window may involve more than just a mouse click, but this is also a feature since it encourages you to close the Acrobat window before doing more work on your code, thus avoiding annoyance 2".

First Steps

If you have never programmed in C before, this may not be a good initial project, but if you are reasonably familiar with your C compiler you should be able to complete this project. I use CodeWarrior as my C compiler so my remarks will apply precisely to their setup but only minor modifications should be needed for other environments.

You need the BBEdit Extension SDK. This can be obtained from the BareBones website via http://www.barebones.com/support/developer/pluginsdk.html and follow the link. When un-stuffed, you will have a folder, BBEdit Extension SDK, with three folders and two files. The file Writing BBEdit Extensions.srd is a stand alone document describing the subroutines available to you, their argument structure and what is returned. It also has specific suggestions to help you get your CodeWarrior or Symantec environment working.

My suggestion is to go immediately to the examples, find HelloWorld and compile it. In my case, CodeWarrior wanted to update to a newer version which came off without a hitch, and then a few paths had to be reset. After these annoyances, the project compiled and when the plug-in was added to the BBEdit Support:Plug-Ins folder, the project worked as advertised. HelloWorld is an excellent project to start with since once you get it working, the alterations necessary for this project are mostly a matter of making a few changes and adding code.

The Actual Code

The code below was produced as follows. First I made a copy of the working HelloWorld project and renamed all the files PostscriptIDE.whatever. Then I opened the PostscriptIDE.rsrc file and added an alert with one button to dismiss the alert and one static text box with an entry of ^0. The resource ID of the alert was 128. Then the project file PostscriptIDE.µ was opened. Once in CodeWarrior I opened the PostscriptIDE Settings dialog, selected 68K Target and changed the Resource Name to PostscriptIDE. The name here" becomes the name the plug-in has in the Tools menu in BBEdit. The files in the project still had their HelloWorld names so I deleted HelloWorld.c and HelloWorld.rsrc and replaced them with their PostscriptIDE counterparts.

Next I opened the PostscriptIDE.c file and deleted all the code between the EnterCodeResource() and the ExitCodeResource(). The Enter/Exit routines must blanket our code in order to correctly interface with BBEdit, so I left them. One also needs to be careful, especially with error handling, not to return control to BBEdit without going through ExitCodeResource(). Finally, I added code to produce the program you see below.

The code in main is straightforward. A pointer to the front window is one of the variables we are handed when our code starts up and we check first that it is not NULL and if it is not, then we make sure we have a window of kind userKind since all the subsequent calls to the BBEdit subroutines that we use warn that they should only be called on windows of kind userKind. If either of these tests fail, we put up our alert and when the user dismisses it, we return control to BBEdit via the ExitCodeResource() routine.

The call to the subroutine bbxtGetWindowContents() returns a handle to the contents of the front window. Assuming this works, we check that the file starts with !%PS, since any legitimate Postscript file must start this way. If this fails, we put up our alert and again exit gracefully. If our check is successful, then we get the file information associated to the front window. Assuming we get a valid file, we turn our information into an FSSpec for the file and call the subroutine Ship_to_APPL which does most of the work. If we fail here there are two possibilities. There may be no file to get, if for example we have not yet saved it. In this case we put up an alert. We also might fail to create the FSSpec from the data BBEdit returns. We consider this unlikely but put up the BBEdit alert box for handling this."

Next come the declarations for two subroutines. The subroutine FSpGetHPBRec takes an FSSpec pointer and fills in an HParamBlockRec for the file which lets us get at the modification date. The subroutine Calculate_pdf_file takes an FSSpec pointer to the BBEdit file and returns an FSSpec pointer to the pdf file.

The Ship_to_APPL subroutine does the real work. First we calculate the name of the pdf file from that of the BBEdit file by calling our subroutine. Then we try to get the HParamBlockRec for the pdf file. If this fails, we prepare to ship the BBEdit file to Distiller by setting Res to 'DSTL', the signature for Distiller, and file to point to the BBEdit file. If we get an HParmBlockRec for the pdf file, then we also get one for the BBEdit file and compare the modification dates. (If we fail to get the modification date for the BBEdit file we put up the standard BBEdit alert.) Depending on how the modification dates compare, we set Res to 'DSTL' and file to point to the BBEdit file or else we set Res to "CARO' and file to point to the pdf file. (An annoyance arises here - 'CARO' is the signature for both Acrobat and Reader so which of these will be used to open the pdf file depends on your setup. Find any pdf file and double click it. Whichever application opens this file will be used by this plug-in.) Finally, we call bbxtSendOpenDoc() which opens the file pointed to by file in the application with signature Res. Again, this routine can return an error and we just pass it to the BBEdit alert.

The code for the two subroutines is straightforward.

  • FSpGetHPBRec() just sets some entries in the HParamBlockRec and then calls PBHGetFInfo() which fills in the HParamBlockRec for us. Whatever error code we get, we return.
  • Calculate_pdf_file takes the FSSpec for the BBEdit file and produces an FSSpec for the .pdf file by stripping off a .ps, .eps or .epsf ending if there is one and appending .pdf. We do check that the file name will not be too long and truncate if necessary. The volume and parent directory for the .pdf file are the same as for the BBEdit file.
  • The code.

The first part is in small type so that it formats identically to the first part of the file HelloWorld.c. The regular font size denotes code that has been changed from this file after the deletions discussed above.

#include <ExternalInterface.h>

// deal with A4

#ifdef THINK_C
   #include <SetupA4.h>
   #define   EnterCodeResource() do { RememberA0(); SetUpA4(); } while (0)
   #define ExitCodeResource() do { RestoreA4(); } while (0)
#endif
#ifdef __MWERKS__
   #include <A4Stuff.h>
#endif

#define   ALERTID   128
void Ship_to_APPL(   ExternalCallbackBlock *callbacks, 
                           FSSpec* file);

pascal void main(   ExternalCallbackBlock *callbacks, 
                           WindowPtr w)
{
   Str63      m1="\pThe front BBEdit window does not start with";
   Str63      m2="\p %!PS on the first line.";
   Str15      m3="\pNo file found - ";
   Str63      m4="\pprobably need to save first!";
   Str255   fName;
   short      vRef;
   long      dirID;
   FSSpec   file;
   OSErr      err;
   Handle   window_text;

EnterCodeResource();
if (w!=0 && ((WindowPeek)w)->windowKind==userKind) {
      
   window_text=bbxtGetWindowContents(callbacks,w);
   if( window_text!=0 && *((long*)*window_text)=='%!PS' ) {
       /*Force window text to start with %!PS */
      bbxtGetDocInfo(callbacks,w,fName,&vRef,&dirID);
      if(fName[0]!=0) {
         err=FSMakeFSSpec(vRef,dirID,fName,&file);
         if(err==noErr) {
            Ship_to_APPL(callbacks,&file);
            }
         else {
            bbxtReportOSError(callbacks,err);
            }
         }
      else{
         ParamText(m3,m4,"\p","\p");
         Alert(ALERTID,bbxtGetStandardFilter(callbacks));
         }
      }
   else {
      ParamText(m1,m2,"\p","\p");
      Alert(ALERTID,bbxtGetStandardFilter(callbacks));
      }
   }
else {
   ParamText(m1,m2,"\p","\p");
   Alert(ALERTID,bbxtGetStandardFilter(callbacks));
   }

ExitCodeResource();
}

OSErr FSpGetHPBRec(HParmBlkPtr,FSSpec*);
void  Calculate_pdf_file(FSSpec *pdf_file, FSSpec *ps_file);

void Ship_to_APPL(   ExternalCallbackBlock *callbacks, 
                           FSSpec* ps_file)
{   FSSpec               pdf_file, *file;
   HParamBlockRec   ps, pdf;
   OSErr                  err;
   OSType               Res;

Calculate_pdf_file(&pdf_file,ps_file);

err=FSpGetHPBRec(&pdf,&pdf_file);
if(err!=noErr) { /* If no pdf_file ship to Distiller.*/
   Res='DSTL';file=ps_file;
   }
else{
   err=FSpGetHPBRec(&ps,ps_file);
   if(err==noErr) {
      /*   If there is such a file,
            get modification dates for ps_file and pdf_file.*/
      /*   If date for pdf_file is later, send pdf_file to Reader, 
            otherwise send ps_file to Distiller */
      if(   (unsigned long)pdf.fileParam.ioFlMdDat
            <=
            (unsigned long)ps.fileParam.ioFlMdDat ) {
         Res='DSTL';file=ps_file;
         }
      else {
         Res='CARO';file=&pdf_file;
         }
      }
   else { 
      /*This should not happen!*/
      bbxtReportOSError(callbacks,err);
      return;
      }
   }
err=bbxtSendOpenDoc(callbacks,Res,0,file,true);
if(err!=noErr) {bbxtReportOSError(callbacks,err);}
}

OSErr   FSpGetHPBRec(HParmBlkPtr hpbp, FSSpec* file){
hpbp->fileParam.ioVRefNum=file->vRefNum;
hpbp->fileParam.ioFDirIndex=0;
hpbp->fileParam.ioNamePtr=file->name;
hpbp->fileParam.ioDirID=file->parID;
return(PBHGetFInfo(hpbp,false));
}

void Calculate_pdf_file(FSSpec *pdf_file, FSSpec *ps_file) {
   short   rr;
   Str15   offset;
   
*pdf_file=*ps_file;
rr=offset[0]=pdf_file->name[0];
offset[1]=offset[0]-1;offset[2]=offset[0]-2;
offset[3]=offset[0]-3;offset[4]=offset[0]-4;
if( pdf_file->name[offset[2]]=='.' && 
      pdf_file->name[offset[1]]=='p' && 
      pdf_file->name[offset[0]]=='s' ) {
   rr=pdf_file->name[0]-3;
   }
else if(
      pdf_file->name[offset[4]]=='.' &&
      pdf_file->name[offset[3]]=='e' && 
      pdf_file->name[offset[2]]=='p' &&
      pdf_file->name[offset[1]]=='s' && 
      pdf_file->name[offset[0]]=='f' ) {
   rr=pdf_file->name[0]-5;
   }
else if(
      pdf_file->name[offset[3]]=='.' &&
      pdf_file->name[offset[2]]=='e' && 
      pdf_file->name[offset[1]]=='p' &&
      pdf_file->name[offset[0]]=='s' ) {
   rr=pdf_file->name[0]-4;
   }

if(rr>27) {rr=27;}
pdf_file->name[0]=rr;
pdf_file->name[++pdf_file->name[0]]='.';
pdf_file->name[++pdf_file->name[0]]='p';
pdf_file->name[++pdf_file->name[0]]='d';
pdf_file->name[++pdf_file->name[0]]='f';
}

Conclusion

After compiling the project, drop the file into the BBEdit Support:Plug-Ins folder and restart BBEdit. I like to add a key stroke combination to run the plug-in. To do this, select Tools List from the Tools menu, select your new plug-in, click on the Set Key button and type the desired key stroke combination.

This plug-in turns BBEdit & Distiller & Reader into a workable postscript development environment. Several things are missing from an ideal environment, mostly in the debugging line. Under the current scheme, it is Distiller that would have to supply the debugging capabilities and at the moment such capabilities are minimal. This article is not the place to discuss postscript programming, but the green book, Postscript Language Program Design (ISBN 0-201-14396-8, 1988, Addison-Wesley), has a very useful section on debugging. In particular, its message routine

/msg{
  print(\n)print flush
} bind def

can be used to print messages to the Distiller window such as

(Yea! We got here.) msg

which can be used to locate the source of difficulties - not ideal but workable, as many of us old guys can attest from much debugging in many different languages.


The author is a research mathematician and professor who spends too much time fooling around with this sort of thing. More stuff at <http://www.nd.edu/~taylor>.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.8.3 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.6 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MarsEdit 3.7.10 - Quick and convenient b...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
BusyCal 3.1.4 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. Its unique features... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.14 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
VirtualBox 5.1.14 - x86 virtualization s...
VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* MAC Infrastructure Engineer - InnoCo...
Summary: Responsible for all aspects of Apple Desktop hardware. This includes research, design, test, and deploy technologies being researched by the desktop Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Manhattan, NY Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most Read more
Senior Workstation Administrator - *Apple*...
…with extraordinary HR. QualificationsJOB SUMMARY/OVERVIEWThe Senior Workstation Administrator - Apple supports the mission of TriNet by providing advanced level Read more
Intermediate *Apple* macOS Systems Integrat...
**Position Summary:** SC3 is actively seeking an Intermediate Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Apple Mac Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Los Angeles, CA Introduction: We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.