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Immutable Page Margins on Printer


Tony Morosco

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An ongoing saga of a problem (dare I say, 'bug'?) with inability to set custom page margins in FileMaker 8.5 for a specific printer. Long post, but wanted to give all the background info to see if I missed anything.

[color:brown]The background:

I'm the curator at a botanical garden, and have a custom build FileMaker Pro database that tracks our collections (~ 10 tables, couple hundred thousand records). Over Labor Day holiday, I upgraded us from FM 6 (server 5.5) to FM 8.5. We run it in an all Windows XP environment, with a server and couple of workstations, some on remote TCP/IP access.

The upgrade went smoothly except for one critical function.

We 'print' small aluminum 'dogtags' and plant identification signs on a Universal Laser Systems M-300 laser engraver directly from our database.

DSCN1238ret600.jpg

Great machine, it basically operates like a printer (including printer drivers) but burns things instead of spraying ink. Nice if you can get 'em, but it costs about $18,000 (was tough since we have a small budget).

[color:brown]The Problem:

Anyways, the Engraver has a engraving table of 24 inches by 12 inches. I've been using the FileMaker Pro 6 & M-300 combination for over 2 years to produce thousands of tags and signs. But it came to a screeching halt with the upgrade.

After upgrading database to FM Pro 8.5 from 6.0, printing to Universal Laser Systems M-300 (Laser engraver with 24” x 12” engraving table) is now limited to 8.5” x 11” print area, despite whatever other page setup settings I specify in the Print Setup > Properties dialog box (or specify as part of a script). This is a problem both in preview mode (shows records cut off) as well as actual printing/engraving (records are cut off).

I can specify portrait or landscape, and the print preview will change. But no matter what I set the page size to be (smaller or larger) in print setup properties for the M-300, the preview size is always exactly 8.5 x 11. Here is how it is supposed to look in preview mode. Here is how the problem does look in preview mode. Here is the print dialog box for the M-300, showing the correct settings selected.

[color:brown]Several other factors:

There is a not a problem printing with custom page sizes from any other software (Illustrator, AutoCAD, etc.)

There is not a problem printing from Filemaker with custom page sizes (smaller or larger) to other printers (Encad plotter, Adobe Acrobat).

It is the specific combination of FileMaker 8.5 and the M-300.

[color:brown]So what have I tried to solve this, you ask?

Tried uninstalling and deleting drivers for M-300 printer, and reinstalling most recent version of driver from manufacturer according to specs.

Tried uninstalling and deleting drivers for other printers (plotter, Acrobat, etc.)

Tried uninstalling FM Pro 6 and FM Pro 8.5 (were concurrently installed) and reinstalling FM Pro 8.5 after reading about someone's problem with concurrent installations.

Tried re-creating new layouts in FM Pro 8.5.

Then I called FileMaker Tech Support on 9/11/06.

Case # 060911-000288

They had me try creating new database in FM Pro 8.5 (not converted from FM Pro 6)- but that did not solve problem.

We did test print (despite preview problem) and printed/engraved product showed same cut off records as shown in preview mode, so it is not just a preview problem. She asked me to call back once I completed these tests.

9/13 Called back FileMaker Tech Support and worked with another representative.

After trying many things (Save/send as PDF, etc.) we could not isolate cause of problem. She asked me to try installing FileMaker on a different computer to see if it was the specific computer, and if that didn’t work, contact the manufacturer. If neither of these worked, she asked that I call back FileMaker Technical support to escalate the problem.

9/15/06 I installed FM Pro 8.5 on two different computers (both also running Windows XP Pro, Service Pack 2), which both exhibited the same exact problem. Contacted Universal Laser Systems, who said they would have their Senior Applications Engineer call me.

9/21 Finally got through to Universal Laser Systems Software Engineer. Went over steps taken. He said the driver for M-300 is written like all other Windows printer drivers, and it sounded like a problem with FileMaker Pro 8.5, since it worked under FM 6.0. One new suggestion was to uninstall the M-300 driver, and reinstall on a new port (USB or new port on LPT). That didn’t work (and doesn’t account for problem in preview mode). Said that ULS is probably not able to devote engineering time to this problem, since we seem to be only customer using FileMaker Pro.

Called FM Technical Support. Could not get through telephone system, as it told me the case number I have is “not active”. Sent a question through KnowledgeBase “Ask a Question” asking how I was to reactive this case number, since the problem has not been resolved.

As you can see, I am feeling a bit at a dead end, and a bit abandoned by tech support for both FileMaker and ULS. But I will keep at it. After the amount of donations we've invested into this system (which worked flawlessly before the upgrade), and how crucial this is to our operations, I can't give up! And thoughts of downgrading to FileMaker 6.0 just sends cold chills down my spine. Tips on things to try, brainstorming, or better routes for contacting technical support, etc. are appreciated.

Thank you,

Tony

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I'd try to specify different custom page sizes in print setup, if this is possible. Just any weird page size to see whether FM can understand it for this printer. Or maybe 23.999x11.999 :P

If nothing else helps, you can probably downgrade the printing module only, i.e. have one FM 6 table printing fields only, export data from FM 8 app, import them into that FM 6 table and print the signs.

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Thank you Mikhail,

Changing the page size in Print Setup does not have any effect on the print preview or printed size of the page on the printer in question- that is what is 'broken'. FileMaker 8.5 always shows 8.5 by 11 for this printer, even if I specify a print size of 4 by 4, or 23.9 by 11.9.

I have already made a downgrade database in version 6 as a temporary workaround to the problem. However in our process workflow, several fields need to be updated once the print step of my scripts are (successfully) complete and a report needs to be automatically generated. Thus a export/import downgrade solution is much too complicated for the end users (volunteers and interns) who run this process.

There is no reason FileMaker 8.5 should not print to this machine!

In good news, FileMaker has reopend my case number, and I will be calling them again today.

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Progress Update:

After having my case escalated to tier 2 of FileMaker Technical support, and sending the appropriate printer driver, I received the following reply from FileMaker:

Subject: Callback - Printing not utilizing all sheet space

Response: (Richard S.) 09/26/2006 03:05 PM

Tony,

After some testing we are able to duplicate the issue in house. Ran the issue past our tier2 agent. There seems to be a known incompatibility issue with this particular driver and the newer versions of FileMaker. He has discussed the matter with corporate at length in the past. I’m afraid there is no known solution at this time.

~Rick

I have not been able to get any further responses to my inquiries on a) what is the specific incompatibility or : will FileMaker be fixing this bug?

So it would seem that not only is this a known, undocumented issue with specific drivers, but that FileMaker will not be fixing this problem any time soon.

We have over $25,000 investment in our system and FileMaker architecture (not including design time). This is an enormous investment by a non-profit organization our size, and it was carefully planned using all available documentation. I strongly suggest that anyone with mission critical operations that involve printing to specific printers closely evaluate the suitability of FileMaker and be ready for undocumented problems that throw a monkey wrench into the works.

I've been able to design a workaround solution that exports information and re-imports to FileMaker Pro 6 for printing, but it is clunky and I fear prone to errors when used by our more non-technical staff and volunteers.

I am seriously unsatisfied with the handling and response on this issue by FileMaker and will think twice before recommending FileMaker to collegues.

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The Laser Engraver is a M-300 manufactured by Universal Laser Systems. They do not post drivers to their website, but I can share a copy with you. Please email me at [email protected], since your email is not in your profile.

ULS has a small user base since the machines cost $18,000+, so all technical support there is very intimate.

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  • Newbies

Is this the solution?

Make a form.

go to START > SETTINGS > PRINTERS

NOW YOU SEE THE PRINTERS

GO TO THE TOOLBAR LEFT:

> FILE > PREVERENCES FOR SERVER

NEW FORM (give name and formats)

SAVE FORM

CLOSE ALL

Now you can see in filemaker-printer(all programs) the new form.

I hope you can onderstand this and i am sorry for the translation, dutch

greeting Nico

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Newbies

You may have tried this...

I had some strange printing issues with FMPro 8.5 - some fonts were crashing the print job etc. etc. - and one workaround that did the trick was to print to a PDF file, and then send that to the printer (from Acrobat or a Page Layout program).

It's an extra step but better than exporting/importing if it works.

Mac OS X 10.4.8

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  • 5 months later...

This topic is 6252 days old. Please don't post here. Open a new topic instead.

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