Some assistance on working with graphics on a remote host.

This page will:

  1. Give safe "dummy" advises, that instantly will enable you to copy your screen into your report.
  2. Explain HPGL and PS graphical formats.
  3. Assist you in obtaining and installing programs for printing / viewing these files. See instructions at the bottom of this page.

As an ordinary PC-user you are spoiled rotten by always getting your graphical result on your screen immediately after request. Graphic however may be a torture, when working on remote hosts.

Your problems may be divided in:

  1. The worst: you want a picture, but have obtained only a silly text file - see the HPGL and PS sections below.
  2. You have something on your screen and want to copy this into your report - see the general advises just below of here.


1: How to get a graphic from your screen into your report

Note: The screen resolution is much lower than for instance print resolution. On PC's the screen resolution is 96 DPI, on printers at least 300 DPI is needed to give a sharp picture. Therefore "screen shots" are ideal to report an fast illustration, but for high quality images, you need to use export/import features. See the sections below.

Advise #1: The seldom used "Print Scrn" bottom makes an instant copy of your screen, which may be pasted into whichever program ("application"), that accepts a bitmapped picture including MS Word and MS PowerPoint.

So what you do is:

  1. Open your result and get it to fill your screen as much as possible - that gives you a better resolution.
  2. Press the "PrintScrn" bottom.
  3. Go to your application - perhaps MS Word - and paste.
  4. Some formatting may be needed. In MS Word a right click gives you access to format the picture.

You may also use a "paint" program as a step stone to modify your picture. I can recommend the freeware IrfanView, which can be downloaded from your nearest Tucows site. Intended only for affiliates at RUC is a local copy of IrfanView may be obtained from here:

Advise #2: By clicking with the right mouse bottom on a picture in a browser window (MS IE, Any Netscape, and others) you will get an option of saving this image to your local computer. The graphic may thereafter be opened and inserted into your application. With MS IE you also have the option of "copy" this image and paste it directly into your application.

Advise #3: Some graphic programs include a "capture" facility either build-in or as a separate program.  In IrfanView you select "capture" under the "Options" menu and a configuring menu shows up:

Select a Hot key that does not conflict with your application, the rest of the selections are straight forward.

After configuration, press "Start", go to your application, make your application to show, what you want to copy, press the Hot key and with these selections the image is showed instantly in the IrfanView program. From here it may be manipulated or simply copy the picture, move to for instance MS Word and paste the picture.


2: HPGL and PS graphical formats

From most of the remote hosts we can obtain either a ".PS" or a HPGL "plotter" file (often ".HP", but the extension may vary). ".EPS" is quite similar to .PS and is treated the same way.

Both postscript and plotter files are "vector-formats" as opposed to "bitmap-formats" obtained by screendump or "lifting" as above. Vector formats means that the graphical information is stored as lines and other simple geometric figures. This means that they can be scaled or printed and still appear sharp.

The Postscript formats may contain pieces of bitmaps embedded as pictures. Some programs, that claims to be able to "read" postscript files are only capable of "lifting" these embedded pictures - be aware of that when selecting your program.

Text will usually be embedded into these formats as text-strings with an instruction for font, size, direction and placement for the text. Therefore it may in some instances be possible to lift out text from these formats.

PDF: (Portable Document Format) is derived from the Postscript formats and is best viewed with the Acrobat reader, which may be obtained from here: Http://

HPGL is easy to explain

Pretend you are a plotter: a plotter moves a pen over the paper in either the x or y direction, the pen may up (not touching the paper) or down (imagine this) and the pen may be changed to another color or thickness. The HPGL (Hewlett-Packard Graphical Language) to control this reflects this situation: there are "Pen Up" PU and "Pen Down" PD commands and a lot of x,y coordinates to move to. Text may be found as enclosed "Label" LB strings.

Most modern drawing programs are able to import graphics written in this - quite primitive - language. Also will HP printers be able to interpret the graphics in a HPGL file. So if your program or your terminal is able to export your graphic in this format you may be able to report this graphic.

A typical small plotter file may look like this:

 E *p18y83X *c0T &l3O  %0BIN;WU0;PW0.10;PU;SP1;PU;SI0.252,0.419;SL;DI1.0000,0.0000;
PU;PA1905,7027;LBPILEUP of: @pilednaa2  May 26, 1994  15:09 
1.0000;PU;PA9246,2049;LBecodnaa PU;PA8399,2049;LBppudnaa  PU;PA7552,2049;LBbsudnaa PU;PA6706,2049;LBbnadnaa  PU;PA5859,2049;LBblidnaa PU;PA5012,2049;LBbfidnaa  PU;PA4166,2049;LBbstdnaa PU;PA3319,2049;LBbcednaa 
PU;PA2472,2049;LBbladnaa PU;PA1626,2049;LBbbrdnaa PU;PA779,2049;LBmludnaa WU0;PW0.05; %0A &l0X E

PU and PD means PenUp and PenDown,
PA and PR means PlotAbsolut and PlotRelativ
LB means LaBel, - text is following


Postscript (PS) is a more advanced printer language, which may produce very elaborated prints. Just , PS is the resulting data send to the printer. PS files may be copied directly to a PS printer or they can be imported into some graphic programs. Non-PS printers will of course print the content of the PS file as a text. I use Corel Draw version 9 for import and manipulation of PS files.

Creation of PDF files goes through a PS file. Some shareware programs can write pdf files. Some of these can read PS files and convert these to PDF files, which hereafter may be read and written by Acrobat Reader.

Example of a PS file:

A PS file can read by any text editor and contains first some comment lines starting with % like:

%%Title: Graphics From Program growtree
%%For: olesk
%%CreationDate: July  4, 1996 11:29

Thereafter comes a prologue with definitions of lines, fonts, small program pieces (routines) like:

/s { stroke } def
/n { newpath } def
/lc { setlinecap } def

Another goodie from a prologue is:

/FrameCmpColorsCMYK {
	2 copy 0 get exch 0 get eqepsilon {
		2 copy 1 get exch 1 get eqepsilon {
			2 copy 2 get exch 2 get eqepsilon {
				3 get exch 3 get eqepsilon
			} {pop pop false} ifelse
		}{pop pop false} ifelse
	} {pop pop false} ifelse
} bind def

Now follows the "body" of the PS file, where standard commands and routines defined in the prologue creates the graphical picture:

%%Page: ? 1
/Courier findfont [ 68   0   0  87   0   0] makefont setfont
315 2074 m
3 0 (Growtree Phylogram of: pilglnq.distances, Tree Tree_1) ashow
/Courier findfont [ 55   0   0  70   0   0] makefont setfont
1164 1984 m
2 0 (July  4, 1996 11:29) ashow
2692 528 m
89 rotate
2 0 ( hinartp) ashow
2319 489 m
-89 rotate
2 0 ( ecoartp) ashow

A PS file may terminate in various ways; but there usually  is a "showpage" command.

A PS file is difficult to change; but it may be done in case of trouble. A PS file is read chronologically, so printing errors may be corrected by finding the faulty line or place in the PS file. Try to put the "showpage" command in various positions or delete parts of the body an see what happens.

Printing PS / HPGL files directly to a printer:

You may inspect the site: and see if this is a utility for you.


Install Ghostscript with Gsview:


Go to: Ghostscript, download and save the three files in a temporary directory or the desktop. Install the two .exe files: First GS800w32.exe and thereafter gsv43w32.exe.

Test your installation: Double click the .ps file and GSview4.3 should open (click "cancel"!!! if a strange error message appears). Postscript files may also be opened directly in your browser.


Further details on Ghostscript and GSview:

Ghostscript is the name of a set of software that provides:


Licensing AFPL Ghostscript (formerly Aladdin Ghostscript)

Versions entitled "AFPL Ghostscript", or older versions called "Aladdin Ghostscript"), are distributed with a license called the Aladdin Free Public License that allows free use, copying, and distribution by end users, but does not allow commercial distribution. For information on obtaining the current version of Ghostscript with this license please visit our website at:



GSview is a graphical interface for Ghostscript. Ghostscript is an interpreter for the PostScript page description language used by laser printers. For documents following the Adobe PostScript Document Structuring Conventions, GSview allows selected pages to be viewed or printed. GSview requires Ghostscript. GSview is available for Windows, OS/2 and Linux.

GSview was written by Russell Lang at Ghostgum Software Pty Ltd.
Ghostscript was originally written by Aladdin Enterprises and is now maintained by artofcode LLC and Artifex Software.

GSview homepage:

Registering GSview:

If you wish to support the development of GSview or wish to disable the GSview nag screen, please consider registering GSview. There is no requirement for you to register GSview. According to the terms of the GSview licence, you can use GSview without any payment. The registration fee is AUD$40 (approx. USD$25 - 30). GSview can be registered online at an external secure site run by