When VCF gives up, there’s always Adobe Acrobat Professional

Recently I learned how to edit a chart in Adobe Acrobate Professional when VCF had given up on me. It is a 3-metre chart built from a combination of 9 separate generated charts and at some point VCF decided that some of the boxes and their contents were no longer editable. This meant I couldn’t change the text in the boxes or move the boxes around without wild things happening with the connector lines. I have no idea why, and I didn’t have time to muck around with it or go to the developer for help. There was no way I was going to regenerate and combine all the charts.

So once the PDF had been generated and more changes were needed, including centring the chart (now impossible in VCF as some of the boxes wouldn’t move), I was able to do it in Acrobat. Two boxes that were created with the wrong thickness were recreated in Adobe. Badly behaved connector lines were fixed. Text was changed, boxes moved (and lined up), and the panic I was in to get this ready in time to print 30 copies before Christmas was over.

Have you had a similar experience with VCF?

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How to change the pagesize in VCF without regenerating the chart in TMG

You’ve run the chart, made lots of changes, added new people, removed others, moved them around, and so on and so on, and then you realise that the page size is A4. Aaarrrrrgh!

According to my previous post you need to change the default printer and page size in Windows before generating the chart in TMG, and you didn’t do that. Do you have to make all those manual changes again?

This is the question I had to answer yesterday, and the answer, I’m grateful to be able to say, is no. I went searching and came across the answer buried in a forum discussion with Robin Lamacraft and others on the Wholly Genes website.

The answer relies on the fact that the pagesize is buried in the .VC2 file. Once you create the chart it’s too late to change it. So the answer is to create another one. Some of these steps are the same as for creating the chart from scratch in TMG, so I have copied them directly from the previous post.

  1. Make sure PDFCreator is installed. This is free software to allow you to print a file as a PDF. The following instructions probably work with other PDF software but this is the one I use.
  2. Set PDFCreator as the default printer in Windows.
  3. While you are there, right click on the PDFCreator icon and select Printer Preferences.
  4. This is where you are going to change the size of the page. You have to do this here, it doesn’t allow it from within VCF.*
    1. Select the orientation of the paper. A long skinny chart might be better in landscape; a not-so-skinny chart might be better in portrait.
    2. Click on the Advanced button.
    3. Change the Paper Size to PostScript Custom Page Size
    4. Click on the Edit Custom Page Size button
    5. The width and height are probably set to A4, ie Width 210.00 and Height 297.00. Change these to suit. For example, if you have set the orientation to Landscape so that you have a single chart with multiple A4 sheets end to end then multiply the Height by the number of pages.
    6. If in doubt, bigger is better than smaller.
    7. Paper feed direction seems not to matter.
  5. Click OK and OK again.
  6. Make sure VCF is closed.
  7. Open VCF. It now knows about the new default printer and page size.
  8. Now create a new, empty chart in VCF. It will be in the new page size.
  9. Now open the one you spent all that time changing, and CNTRL-A to select everything on the chart.
  10. Copy the chart and paste it into the new chart. (Use CNTRL-C in the old chart and CNTRL-V in the new one).
  11. Make sure the new chart is centred correctly, and check that when you turn the page bounds on (in View) that you can’t see any.
  12. If you can see the same ones that you see for A4 then something is wrong and you need to go back to the beginning.
  13. If the diagram is not quite long enough you may need to make it a little bigger – go to Tools -> Diagram -> Diagram Measurements.
  14. The page bound should be past the end of the diagram.
* When you bring up the Print window there should be a button to change the printer. I don’t see this button. Apparently this is a Vista issue, and doesn’t happen to everyone. I now have a Windows 7 computer and I still don’t see the Printer button. I’m not sure that this would help even if I could see it and change the printer, if the page size is stored in the VC2 file itself.

 

Print a chart to PDF as one piece

I have had to remind myself how to creat a PDF file of a chart in one piece, and so I am writing the instructions here for next time.

I use Windows 7, and used similar instructions on my old Vista laptop.

  1. Make sure PDFCreator is installed. This is free software to allow you to print a file as a PDF. The following instructions probably work with other software but this is the one I use.
  2. Set PDFCreator as the default printer in Windows.
  3. While you are there, right click on the PDFCreator icon and select Printer Preferences.
  4. This is where you are going to change the size of the page. You have to do this here, it doesn’t allow it from within VCF.
    1. Select the orientation of the paper. A long skinny chart might be better in landscape; a not-so-skinny chart might be better in portrait.
    2. Click on the Advanced button.
    3. Change the Paper Size to PostScript Custom Page Size
    4. Click on the Edit Custom Page Size button
    5. The width and height are probably set to A4, ie Width 210.00 and Height 297.00. Change these to suit. For example, if you have set the orientation to Landscape so that you have a single chart with multiple A4 sheets end to end then multiply the Height by the number of pages.
    6. If in doubt, bigger is better than smaller.
    7. Paper feed direction seems not to matter.
  5. Click OK and OK again.
  6. NOW create your chart in TMG.
  7. The chart should display on the screen without cut marks.
  8. If it doesn’t, go back and do it all again. You must close VCF.
  9. Use Print Preview to be sure.
  10. Print the chart to PDF.
  11. It should be one continuous piece instead of lots of pieces to stick together. If you have a lot of long thin pieces with a small part of the chart on each you have done it wrong. This is the result if you try to change the page size from within VCF when you are printing it.
  12. Once you have created the PDF to your satisfaction  then go back and reset the page size in PDFCreator and change your default printer back to whatever it was before.

I’m sure I didn’t have to make the PDFCreator the default printer before, but it doesn’t allow me to to change the page size while I am in VCF until I try to print it, so there is no alternative.

These instructions are based on a forum post here:  http://www.whollygenes.com/forums201/lofiversion/index.php/t13480.html Thanks Robin!