Output from ECOTECT

Introduction

Printing from ECOTECT is not the most ideal way of achieving output, and was not intended as a way of generating output. In this regard it is very different to most CAD programs.

The best way to achieve printed output is to copy images to the clipboard and use other desktop publishing applications to print. In this way you have two options with ECOTECT, either bitmaps or metafiles.

Bitmaps

A bitmap is a another name for a raster (pixels or dot based) graphic. In Windows, these are typically saved in a BMP file. However other common bitmap formats include PC Paintbrush (PCX), Tagged-Image File Format (TIF), Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) and JPEG. This is not particularly relevant to ECOTECT though, because ECOTECT saves straight to the clipboard for the bitmap to be transferred to another application rather than saved as a file.

What is important with regard to storing bitmaps from ECOTECT, is that they can never have a greater resolution than the computer screen. This is because the bitmap saves straight from the screen which is at 72 DPI (dots per inch). In this way, the higher the screen resolution the more information will be stored by the bitmap.

Bitmaps from ECOTECT are good for publications that will remain electronic such as, web pages or low resolution PDF files. But if you want a good quality print then metafiles are preferred.

Metafiles

A metafile is a list of commands that can be played back to draw a graphic. Typically, a metafile is made up of commands to draw objects such as lines, polygons and text and commands to control the style of these objects. Some people equate metafiles with vector graphics. In most cases this is fine; but, strictly speaking, a metafile can contain any mix of vector and raster graphics. For our situation we will consider a metafile to be a kind of vector graphic.

The reason metafiles are so good as a means of output from ECOTECT, is because:

Storing a Bitmap

  1. To output a bitmap, in the ECOTECT drawing canvas (or any graph/analysis window) click the Copy View icon (or hit the Ctrl+B keys).

    If you used the icon, a small menu will appear. Choose the bitmap option.



    A bitmap of the current display is now copied to the clipboard. It is now possible to paste this into another desktop publishing program.
  2. Try pasting the bitmap into a blank word document.

    After opening word, hit the Ctrl+V keys to paste the metafile. The image looks exactly the same as the current display from ECOTECT but without the surrounding menu items etc.
  3. Try scaling the object by click and dragging one of the corner handles on the image to increase it's size.

    You should notice that when the image gets quite large the quality of the image deteriorates quite noticeably. If you were to print a bitmap at a large scale the quality would be very poor.

Storing a Metafile

  1. To output a metafile, in the ECOTECT drawing canvas (or any graph/analysis window) click the Copy View icon (or hit the Ctrl+M keys).

    If you used the icon, a small menu will appear. Choose the metafile option.



    A metafile of the current display is now copied to the clipboard. It is now possible to paste this into another desktop publishing program.
  2. Try pasting the metafile into a blank word document.

    After opening word, hit the Ctrl+V keys to paste the metafile. You will notice that the image is actually black lines on a white background. This is because ECOTECT has assumed that when you go to print you will want to print black on white.
  3. Try scaling the object by click and dragging one of the corner handles on the image to increase it's size.

    You should notice that even if you make the image quite large the quality of the image does not deteriorate the way a bitmap would.