SUMMARY: books on postscript

From: Donald McLachlan (
Date: Thu Sep 03 1992 - 15:30:43 CDT

Well, I now have a lot more info on postscript!

By the number of responses it seems many people have experienced these same
problems, so despite 2 "this is marginal sun-managers stuff" messages, I
am posting a thorough summary.


First a list of simple things to look for/try:

        (A common problem in postscript docs is that PCs running messy-dos put
        a ^D at the start of the file. Deleting that can often help.)

        no showpage command = no error + no printout

        try the "ehandler" error trapping code? You "Print" this,
        and it loads itself into the PostScript printer. Should an
        error occur, it will dump the graphics BEFORE the error and
        print an error message about the error itself. Very nice!

        If the printers are on RS232, Get lprps (comp.sources.???
        look at archie). it at least does something meaningful with errors.


I recieved serveral messages to the effect of:

        Running the offending text through a postscript
        interpreter like ghostview or ghostscript

I already run it through Openwindow's pageview program. It will also display
errors, but sometimes there are no errors displayed, and even when there are,
I can't always figure out what the error is; presumably because I don't know
postscript; hence my request.


One reply which I really like the sound of and will use as a starting point:

        MicroCharts has a one-sheet reference card that I've
        found useful for checking things like syntax and logic.
        It's one 8.5"x11" plastic card (#116A).

        Micro Logic
        P.O. Box 174
        Hackensack, NJ 07602


I received many replies about the Adobe Systems Incorporated books
published by Addison-Wesely. Below is a good list that was sent to me,
but I found the descriptions of the books very good and so I will summerise
them here first.

        [ Adobe books are ] fairly terse. I also have another by David Holzgang,
        published by Sybex that's pretty good - a little more user friendly
        than the Adobe texts but with less info.

        if your not familiar with Forth etc so the best advice I can
        give is to buy a cheap book that explains the basics and once
        you've mastered those go for the Adobe texts.

        I prefer the first edition red book to the second edition.
        The second edition has a lot of material on Level 2, which few
        applications are using as yet.

        The 2nd edition [...] has descriptions of errors and lists
        common causes.

        I would suggest starting with (in this order), the "blue book",
        the "red book", the "green book"]


The most frequently recommended books are Adobe's own (especially
numbers 1--4 on this list clipped from comp.lang.postscript):

 1) PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook, (aka "the blue book"),
    by Adobe Systems Inc, Addison-Wesley, 1985. ISBN 0-201-10179-3
 2) PostScript Language Reference Manual, (First Edition), (aka "the red
    book"), by Adobe Systems Inc, Addison-Wesley, 1985. ISBN 0-201-10174-2
 3) PostScript Language Reference Manual, Second Edition, (aka "the new red
    book"), by Adobe Systems Inc, Addison-Wesley, 1990. ISBN 0-201-18127-4

[apparently also known as the "Red and White" book]

 4) PostScript Language Program Design, (aka "the green book"), by Adobe
    Systems Inc and Glenn Reid, Addison-Wesley, 1988. ISBN 0-201-14396-8
 5) Encapsulated PostScript: Application Guide for the Macintosh and the PC,
    by Peter Vollenweider, Prentice Hall, 1990. ISBN 0-13-275-843-1
 6) Thinking in PostScript, by Glenn Reid, Addison-Wesley, 1990.
    ISBN 0-201-52372-8
 7) Real World PostScript, (aka "the orange book"), by Stephen Roth,
    Addison-Wesley, 1988. ISBN 0-201-06663-7
 8) Graphic Design with PostScript, by Gerald Kunkel,
    Scott, Foresman and Company, 1990. ISBN 0-673-38794-1
 9) Understanding PostScript Programming, Second Edition,
    by David Holzgang, SYBEX, 1988. ISBN 0-89588-566-2
10) Learning PostScript: A Visual Approach, by Ross Smith,
    Peachpit Press, 1990. ISBN 0-938-151-12-6
11) Inside PostScript, by Frank Braswell, Systems of Merritt
    & Peachpit Press, 1989. ISBN 0-938151-10-X
12) Adobe Type 1 Font Format, by Adobe Systems Inc, Addison-Wesley,
    1990. ISBN 0-201-57044-0

[ apparently also known as the black book ]


>From the same fellow who sent me the list are a few more ideas.

However, your printer-challenged users might be having problems with
their software applications rather than with ``printing PostScript.''
PC and Mac software often downloads a header of PostScript definitions
and fonts with the first print job and then expects the header to be
resident for subsequent print jobs. This is a bad assumption in a
network and leads to confusion if an application is told to ``print to
file'' for transfer to another system; one needs to dig out the
appropriate header and prepend it to every file PostScript file so

For example, Microsoft Word on PC's has a header stuck away among its
printing files, while some of the Mac applications' headers are
usually captured by touching some sort of cloverleaf-key combination
after clicking on ``print.'' I haven't caught any Unix application
playing the header game as ineptly as PC and Mac applications, and
one's impression from comp.lang.postscript is that Apple's own work
is the best source of bad examples of PostScript coding.


In order of their reponses, thanks to:

From: (Ian MacPhedran)
From: wallen@cogsci.UCSD.EDU (Mark R. Wallen)
From: David Fetrow <>
From: (Peter Samuel)
From: Gary Whittington <>
From: Pravir K Chawdhry (EDC Data Exch) <>
From: (Stephen Jamieson)
From: John R. Kilheffer <>
From: Mike Jipping <>
From: (John Howard)
From: (Phil Blanchfield)
From: (John M. Crowell)
From: (Adam Shostack)
From: (Emmett Hogan)
From: (Marty Leisner 311/? x?)
From: Michael S. Maiten <msm@Energetic.COM>
From: ogicse!bit!jayl (Jay Lessert)
From: (Mark Deason)
From: (Jeff Wasilko)
From: Ian Farquhar <>

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