Printing with GhostScript in DOS Guide

Every now and then, someone mentions a problem with printing from the DOS version of Guide. The most common complaint is that printer XYZ is not supported.

Unfortunately, there's a good reason why many (especially recent) printers are not supported. DOS Guide uses the AnSoft Printer Graphics Language (PGL) system. This seemed an excellent decision at the time. Regrettably, AnSoft went out of business a few years ago, and new printer drivers are not forthcoming. Most new printers are still backward-compatible with older ones, but this is by no means universal, and in some cases, you have to set various switches to get the new printer to emulate an old one. All this is a real pain.

Some time ago, the "Create a PostScript file" option was added to Guide (both DOS and Windows). A little later, this capability was extended in DOS Guide so that one could, if desired, toggle the printing method to work as follows: Guide would create a PS file, then print it using the GhostScript utility. (Guide 6.0 and 7.0 users will see that there is a copy of the utility in the GNUGS directory of the Guide CD.) The idea was that GhostScript might support some printers not supported by PGL. It helps that GhostScript is an ongoing project, while PGL is dead.

I think most people will see a speedup when using GhostScript instead of PGL. The biggest drawback is that Guide can't use its text collision scheme in GhostScript; from time to time, you'll see overlapping text that the PGL version can evade.

To toggle Guide to use GhostScript instead of PGL, hit the underscore ('_') key in DOS Guide. Then go to Printer Setup, and select the printer you wish to use. (You'll notice that this list resembles, but is not identical to, the "usual" list of printers you get when using PGL.) That's basically it. You should be able to print in the normal manner.

Two warnings. First, it looks to me as if GhostScript has some odd ideas as to where margins go. On my system, in Landscape mode, the printout runs off the right and bottom sides, but is lower than it should be along the top. I compensated by increasing margins on the bottom and right, and decreasing the margin used on the top. You may need to make similar adjustments.

Second, this system has not really had a great deal of use, entirely due to my failure to document it until now (it's been part of Guide for close to two years now.) You will therefore be in the position of a beta tester with regard to this part of DOS Guide. Please let me know of any oddities you find. (I already know that it doesn't print in color. I may try to fix this, but DOS use is quite rare these days; it's low on the priority queue. The main reason for me to get such output to look good would be in support of a port to Linux; under that OS, GhostScript will certainly be the printing method of choice.)