FitPlot 3.5 Printer Companion Logo ©2006-2011 Pamarcu

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With the Packing tool packing tool the name of the application "fits" better its meaning. I have introduced a first raw attempt of packing algorithm.
Clicking on the packing tool (or choosing the packing menu item), you can obtain a distribution of the images toward the top of the page.

The pack… command brings up the following dialog:

Dialogo compattamento

There are three types of packing:
  1. Add new pages (suitable for single page printers)
  2. Expand / shrink print area (suitable for roll plotters)
  3. Pack in area (defined by user)

Add new pages: In this case the algorithm try to fit the images in the current page. When there is no place left, a new page is added and the fitting continues until all images are placed. In the end, all pages are showed in the pages drawer.

Expand / shrink print area: The images are fitted adapting the single page length / width (the page is in fact considered as a roll).
For this particular case (auto-resize), 4 new fields have been introduced in the margins setup dialog with min and max paper sizes for the current printer. With this informations the program knows how to expand / shrink the paper size according with the packed images on the document.
With these informations the algorithm can know how to expand / shrink the page size for a best distribution of the image s on the sheet [see note at bottom of this page].

Pack in area: images are placed inside an area that the user should define once prompted.
When exiting the packing dialog the following message will be showed:

At this point we should define an area with the mouse (click and drag) to contain images to pack. To make easier this operation, before to start to click and drag, you can zoom out, scroll and do all is needed to see the whole area to select.

After the click and drag, when the mouse is released, if it is possible, images to pack will be fitted in the just defined area.

The other options in the packing dialog are described here below:
Disclaimer: this packing algorithm is far to be perfect. This kind of problems is well known in computer science as 2D bin packing problem. Unfortunately there is not a solution, unless you enumerate all rectangles combinations, paying the bill of time processing increasing factorially! The algorithm FitPlot uses for this operation is very fast and suitable for most cases but far to be perfect. There will be situations where a simple human glance can see a better disposition than that suggested by FitPlot. I hope to improve this in future releases, however, suggestions from experts out there are well accepted.
Margin setting (for packing algorithm)

Choose setup Margins from the Tools menu and fill the fields for page ranges.

Dialogo compattamento

You should take your plotter minimum size from the page setup menu (the smallest in the paper size list). About the maximum size, width should correspond to the loaded plotter roll (24", 36", 42" ecc.), height may be set to an arbitrary long value (I have set it to 6 meters [about 236"] on my HP Designjet 500PS with no problem at all).
NOTE: If all ranges fields are 0, they will not be considered in the packing algorithm.

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