Robins's Visual Chart Form Tips

Saving, Exporting & Printing

This page created 24 Oct 2014

Hosted by Terry's TMG Tips

How you can produce files or print paper copies of your chart.

Topics Included in this Article
Overview Describes each type of output and why you might use it
Saving Saving a chart file that you can later use or edit
Exporting Creating an image file from a chart
Default Printing Printing many pages per chart
Large Page Printing Setting up to print large pages for reunions, etc


When VCF produces a screen view of a chart from TMG, that chart is not automatically stored on disk. When you close VCF it will go away and will need to be recreated from scratch if you need it. There are 3 alternatives of retaining a copy of that chart, each with its own merits and penalties:

  1. Saving the chart as a .VC2 file
  2. Saving the chart in an image format.
  3. Printing the chart onto paper.


Saving the chart in the VCF internal format as a .VC2 file is the most advantageous as it allows the file to be re-opened later, edited, etc, printed or an image of it saved for another purpose, like use on a website. The .VC2 is the file that you should backup. Unfortunately other can’t read it unless they have VCF installed.

To do this use File > Save as... to give it a folder location and a name.

Thereafter in the same session, you can use the usual File > Save to overwrite that file if chart had been then edited.


Exporting the chart as an image generally takes away any change of later intelligent use of the image file. There are image format available:

  1. .JPG – a common format for images, but does not represent images with sharp contrasts very well. It is usually compressed and so loses some of the detail. A JPG of a chart works fine on a website but is not the optimum for use in publishing a book. NOTE: There is a size limit for JPG format files, so some larger charts will fail to be converted.
  2. .BMP – a common loss-less format. If the image is not to be rescaled too far from real size, where the image is captured at 96 pixels per inch. On rescaling the straight lines tend to staircase.
  3. .EMF – a format used inside Windows for graphics. It preserves items as separate items and they can be scaled. This format is mainly used when a user has drawn an object that they want to use as a Custom Frame for subsequent TMG/VCF charts. It doesn’t transfer well to insert into Word document.
All of these can be accessed via File > Export... where you can select a file name and a folder location. The “Save as Type” selects which of these 3 are to be used. NOTE If you save as .JPG on the Image Settings pop-up window there is a check-box “Create HTML Map”. This file is used by Second Site to allow mouse click on an image of the chart to link you to page associated with this person.

Default Printing

This section discusses the issues about printing on the current Windows Printer (usually set to US Letter or Metric A4 page size). Within File > Page Setup the main option is the orientation of the print page “portrait” or “landscape”.

The values of the Margins in this pop-up window are relative to the printable area that the default printer has – not the actual page size. Many printers cannot print out to the edge of the page. So investigate what margins you really require. In principle the default settings, zero on all edges, will require the least pages to print.

Then File > Print Preview will show you a matrix of pages that then cover the whole chart.

This can become very large very quickly. But there is another problem if you print these out as say 100 pages and then try to sticky-tape them together. Careful examination of content that crosses the page-to-page boundary is that at each horizontal or vertical boundary there is a loss of 3-4 pixels. This means at any box that spans that boundary some detail of text is lost.

Using Tools > Diagram > Repaginate in VCF overcomes this. Repaginate starts at the top-left of the chart and examines each page boundary, and if a box spans a vertical page boundary, it moves the entire chart to the right of that box’s left boundary to the right. Similarly if a box spans a horizontal boundary, it moves the entire chart below that box’s top edge down. Now no box spans any boundary. This can severely increase the page count for the chart.

This operation is not reversible.

Large Page Printing

Many users will not have a large format printer at home, but there are now many print shops with these printers (up to 60 inches or 1500 mm roll-fed) that can print from a PDF file for you. This section will discuss how to use a PDF pseudo printer application like PDF995. (A pseudo-printer is an application that creates an entry as if it was a printer in Printers and Devices, but instead saves the output as a file of a particular format.)

When TMG was first produced the Printer Page Setup window (a tool provided by Microsoft had a [Printer] select button on it. In Microsoft's wisdom, on the introduction of Vista and for all Windows systems since that button has been removed.

For Windows XP: (with the [Printer] button in File > Page Setup), VCF learnt about which printer to use and its page size when you set it in File > Page Setup.

  1. First create your chart, edit it as you want ignoring default printer page size.
  2. Use Tools > Diagram > Diagram Measurements to find out the size of the chart as a single page and write it down.
  3. Save that chart as .VC2 format file by using File > Save as... to meaningful name.
  4. Now use File > Page Layout and use the [Printer] button as bottom right.
  5. Select the large format printer or PDF writer that you want the output on.
  6. Open that printer, right-click > Printing Preferences > Layout tab click the [Advanced] button.
  7. Scroll down the paper sizes to select Postscript Custom Page Size.
  8. Here enter you required page size in portrait orientation (width less than height), click [OK].
  9. Click [OK] out of Printer Driver Advanced Options
  10. Now select the real orientation the paper to match the chart,(quite often it needs to be landscape).
  11. Click [OK] to end the setting of the printer.
  12. Click [OK] to close Page Layout.
  13. Now use File > Print Preview to see what your chart looks like on that page. If the chart flows to 2 pages you will need to start again from step 4 and enter a larger page size.
  14. Click the [Print] button and you will be asked what name and where you want to save the PDF file.

For Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1: (without the [Printer] button in File > Page Setup), VCF learnt about which printer from the Windows Default Printer and it Preferences.

This procedure is quite different:

  1. Create a blank template file for the alternative printer. Keep it in a standard location for repeated later use.
  2. Create your chart normally based on the Windows default printer and its page size.
  3. Copy and paste the chart content into the template created in step 1 to switch printers.

In the description below the names of the files are examples. These names were used to clearly identify the 3 files involved.

PREPARATION TO SWITCH PRINTERS (Once for each extra printer)

Decide on what alternative printers that may want to use other than your Windows Default Printer (including PDF writers). The process changes the printer. The page size, orientation, etc can be set later for chart using that new printer.

For EACH alternative printer, create a printer-specific blank template .VC2 file by the following steps:

  1. In Devices and Printers, change the windows default printer to the desired printer.
  2. Open Visual Chart Form (Hint: make a desktop shortcut as you may use it frequently.)
  3. Use File > New to create a blank chart.
  4. Use File > Save as ... to save this chart in standard location as a .VC2 file with a special name, for PDF995, say "Blank Template_PDF995.vc2".
  5. Close Visual Chart Form.
  6. In Devices and Printers, change the windows default printer back to the printer that was the default printer before.

NORMAL OPERATION (e.g. as created by from TMG)

  1. Create and edit your chart using the current windows default printer.
  2. If you have edited the chart, then make sure that there are no objects touching the boundary. If that is the case, then move them or Tools > Diagram > Size to Components will create that space.
  3. Use Tools > Diagram > Diagram Measurements to find final page size required.
  4. Use View > Zoom Normal, Then type CTRL+A (select all). Determine horizontal offset of where the leftmost selection handle (little square symbol) relative to the top edge ruler. Repeat the same technique to find the vertical offset for the topmost selection handle. NOTE: This pair of values defines the location where you need to click in step L. below.
  5. Click the background of the chart to unselect the whole chart.
  6. Use File > Save As ... to save this chart as a .VC2 file (say "my_chart_printerA.vc2").
  7. Close Visual Chart Form.

SWITCHING PRINTERS (once off operation for each chart file)

  1. Open Visual Chart Form.
  2. Use File > Open to open a "Blank_Template_PrinterName.vc2" file.
  3. Use File > Save As ... to save it as a .VC2 file (say "my_chart_ printerB.vc2")
  4. Use Tools > Diagram > Diagram Measurements - edit the canvas size to match your final printed page size.
  5. Use File > Page Setup - Make sure that have set the right page size and orientation.
  6. If you want to use a custom page size then follow this:
    1. Printing Preferences > Layout tab, click the [Advanced] button.
    2. Scroll down the paper sizes to select Postscript Custom Page Size.
    3. Here enter you desired page size in portrait orientation (width less than height), click [OK].
    4. Click [OK] out of Printer Driver Advanced Options
    5. Now select the real orientation the paper to match the chart, (quite often it needs to be landscape).
    6. Click [OK] to end the setting of the printer.
  7. Use File > Print Preview (There should be no page boundary lines within the chart).
  8. Toggle page bounds in toolbar to show any page boundaries. (There should be no page boundary lines within the chart) If there are page boundaries go back step F and revise the settings.
  9. Type CTRL+S to save these changes to the new file.
  10. Use File > Open "my_chart_printerA.vc2"
  11. With the my chart printerA in focus, type CTRL+A to select all, then type CTRL+C to copy the whole chart to the clipboard.
  12.  With the my chart printerB in focus, carefully mouse left-click near the top left corner, as nearly as possible to the position you found in step 3 above. Then type CTRL+V to paste the clipboard to the previously blank canvas.
  13. While the entire chart is selected, use the arrow keys to reposition the chart.
  14. Type CTRL+S to save these changes to the new my chart printerB file.
  15. From this point onwards any chart files derived from my chart printerB file will only print to the printerB.
  16. Continue to edit the my chart printerB chart file as normal.
  17. Finally, use File > Print ... to print on paper or in the case of a creating PDF file. At this point confirm that the printer settings are you expect. There will be extra steps in printing to PDF depending on the PDF writer that is being used. These will include the name and location for the output PDF file, possibly including some quality settings.
  18. If you are taking a PDF file to be printed by a print center, then it is likely that they will need to know:
    1. page dimensions
    2. page orientation
    3. inks: black and white or color (color may be 10 times the cost in black and white) - often you can get a color chart printed in black and white for use as a proof.
    4. the chart has images or printed background
    5. the media to be printed on - usually the cheapest is the thin equivalent of standard copy paper, then thicker matte paper, glossy “photo” paper, canvas or plastic film (advertising poster equivalent)
    6. laminated or not

The price can increase steeply. It is often worth getting the cheapest possible print first as a proof copy before getting a final copy or multiple copies.

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