8 Replies Latest reply on Mar 31, 2010 1:09 PM by patrick.escher

    PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB


      Hi all,


      at the moment we are trying to automate out PDF creation with Expedition PCB.

      We cannot use the PDFOutput Engine (like in the great AATK) as we cannot consider a Fablink XE licenses (and therefore no extended print license is available).

      The plan at the moment is to directly go through the UI automation.

      This means, run the gui.processCommand(File-->Print) to get the print dialog up.

      Then find the print dialog itself by using the FindDialog(Title) method (here we have the first issues, as we need to consider localization, whihc might really become a mess).

      So once we have the dialog, we are trying to change the selected Printer. But this seems not to be possible. we can get the text from the dropdown, but we cannot change it. we also do not see a method in the API which allows us to directly access the dropdown list to change the printer.


      So, assuming that no change in the selected printer is necessary, we can directly print to the used PDF writer.


      Has anybody ever had success to automate the printing in a similar way by just using the UI Automation or through some other (non PDFOutput Engine) methods?

      Can anybody give us a hint in how to select/change the printer form the dropdown?



      THanks for help



        • 1. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

          Hey Patrick,


          Just went through that. I'm using the PDFOutput>engine but because of a bug for detailed view ( talked to kendall about it and he confirmed ), I had to use to the gui.process command...

          Of course I'm using the one for extended print but I would think it is the same for normal print. The probelm I found was to make sure you remove any existing files

          or setup files before you call it because what could happen in some cases is that you call the form, click OK but the system is waiting for a confirmation to

          overwrite a file. The other thing is that not everything is available. I think it is only dialog,button and checkbox. I'm not sure if it helps but good luck.





          • 2. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

            Hi Fred,


            thanks for your information. Can you elobarate more on this detailed view issue?

            As far as I have seen the pdfengine works great, but we only did some preliminary tests.


            Our initial plan was to go throught he standard Print Form (not the extended print) and then apply the schemes, select the proper printer and then simply press OK.

            But as said, it turned out to be a real challenge to select/change the printer and even more, we have to do a full localization (which is quite hard if you are dealing with Asian Systems ).

            Therefore we switched to the Extended Print engine.


            With file overwrite I had similar issues (awarning dialogs) with DXF output. but appareantly if you use the







            then these messages seem to be really supressed and overwrite will take place automatically. I need to check my code  once I am back in the office. maybe I have also routines in do delete existing files automatically





            • 3. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB



              I forgot about trivialdialogs ( I'm using it in other programs but was so concentrated on the Stupid Detailedview which wouldn't work...).

              For the detailedview, what was happening using the PDFOutput is that even if the view was called and present it willn't output it.

              If you go through it with the extendedprint > Advanced Setup > select a sheet > Board items > Detailed views > ... ( you will have the option

              to select Available Detail views and check the one you want. ) The problem is that with the PDFOutput this option isn't available and so doesn't

              apply any...? So for me the only way was to use extended print only for the drawing where I need detailed views. I couldn't find a way either to get

              some of the selections ie: path or printer... The easiest way I found is everything is setup in a config file "extendedprint.pcf and so when the form show-up,

              will ask the user to check/change the output file the first time and will all be set anytime after. A bit of interaction until Mentor fix the outputPDf as I will open a SR.

              Fortunately detailed views are used so much here...?:-). Everything else works fine with PDFOutput and fully automated. Details view are fully automated too.


              I use Visual Studio C#...

              I'm not sure if it helps but it's always nice to hear from other experiences.




              • 4. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

                Hi Fred,


                we are going through extended print as well and we are also using preconfigured pcf files. our plotconfigs are pretty much predefined, so no real need to create layout specific plot settings. we basically have only a couple of various pcf config files defined for the different variations of the boards. Works quite good so far.

                As we use the AutomationPro license for this, we even have not to go through UI stuff. The engine works pretty stable and fast, the only issue we have is, if the fablink license is not available, then we get errors with no message (Need to create another thread on this).


                Iin the meantime I also got feedback from Mentor regarding the questions I had for Ui manipulation. And the answer is quite frustrating. There is obviously no way right at the moment, to change drop down boxes etc. as they they ar ento accessible. Still waiting for some further feedback from the support and will update the post when I have news.


                Thanks for your help



                • 5. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

                  Hey Patrick,


                  Thanks for the feedback. If I could I wouldn't use the extended print but the OutputPdf but because of that bug on the

                  detail view, I have to just for that specific case " bottom vdetailed view ". It works, it is just not as "pretty".


                  For the fablink license when you say not available, I guess you mean used by someone else ?

                  I will have a quick look as I'm doing it all the time but of course I'm on my own in the US... But work with Europe

                  for customization which could be an issue for them...


                  Yes same answer from my side for the Gui. Fortunately there is always a way around...-:)


                  Thank you


                  Best Regards



                  • 6. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

                    Hi Fred,


                    Fablink license not available means simply, that the automation server cannto check it out because it is in use, or the license server which has this license is not available.

                    As said, in this case just an exception with no message is thrown. Very annyoing and it took me several hours to identify what really was going on.


                    btw, are you a freelancer working on Automation or do you do the stuff within your company ?



                    • 7. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB



                      I'm testing it now. Opened fablinkXE Pro under an other username and now will call  the licenses to see what happen.

                      I'm in the middle of releasing a design so might not answer back today but will look.


                      I do PCB design / library and customization for my company. I'm French use to work in the UK where I was looking after BS customization ( userware ) and

                      library management and now moved to the US. We moved 3 years ago to DxD\CES\DxDatabook and Expedition with FablinkXE Pro but still have BS.


                      Just curious, do you use vbs ?





                      • 8. Re: PDF printing automation with Expedition PCB

                        Oh a french


                        We are a german company, located very close to the french and swiss border. Around 60km away from mulhouse.


                        Well, we are not really using vbs, but have some other means in accessing the automation stuff for our applications.

                        I cannot share this information in the forum, but if you want to know, we could probably exhange some information through email.

                        Just have no idea how to send you a personal message with my mail adress