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Printing in Helix 7.0

Printing has historically been a problematic area for some Helix users. Classic Helix always printed views at ‘actual size’ based on the standard of 72 pixels per inch, which could cause a design intended for a single page to print on two or more pages, particularly when switching printers.

Helix 6.1 & 6.2 — the transitional releases between Classic and macOS — implemented the ability to scale a page to fit a single piece of paper. This was done through a ‘global’ setting that turned page scaling or or off for every view, thereby avoiding the ‘extra pages’ issue but potentially causing problems for templates explicitly designed as a multi-page layout.

Helix 7.0 improves upon the situation further by adding a new Fit to page property to every view. Views can now be individually set to scale to fit a single sheet of paper or to print at actual size, using extra paper if necessary.

‘Fit to page’ and Updated Collections

For views created in Helix 7 and later, Fit to page is always on by default. Views in collections updated to Helix 7.0 are handled as follows:

  • If the page size of the view template is ±10% the size of the printable area of US Letter or A4 paper, Fit to page is turned on.
  • For views whose view template is larger or smaller than that, it is turned off.

The one area where users may see a significant difference in the size of the printed page is for templates whose effective page rectangle* is smaller than the page rectangle. When Fit to page it turned on in this case, the printable areas of the template is enlarged to fit the printable area. This is an unintended consequence of changes in how macOS handles printing, but collection designers may find useful applications for this new capability.

* The effective page rectangle is the right edge of the rightmost rectangle on the template and bottom edge of the bottommost rectangle on the template.

Should a view print larger or smaller than expected in Helix 7.0, the solution is to turn off Fit to page for that view. (This is done in Design Mode.)

Also be aware that collections that were not used with Helix 6.2.x may still contain Classic Page Setup data that can be interpreted in very unexpected ways by macOS. Most common is a Page Setup set to scale the page 640% or a Print dialog set to print 256 copies of the view. This issue — and the solution — is discussed in Stored Page Setup: Classic vs macOS in technote TS6405.

The Return of Color and Frame Widths

Collections that use the rectangle frame color and width properties found in Helix Express 4.0 through Helix RADE 6.1 will discover that those properties, which were ignored in Helix 6.2, have largely returned in Helix 7.0.

Helix 7.0 supports color and frame width as follows:

  • On screen:
    • Data rectangles: background color, plus frame color in lists
    • Label rectangles: background color, frame color, and frame width
    • Command rectangles: background color
    • Group rectangles: controlled by macOS
    • Repeat rectangles: controlled by macOS
  • On print and template Preview mode:
    • Data rectangles: background color, frame color
    • Label rectangles: background color, frame color, and frame width
    • Command rectangles: background color, frame color
    • Group rectangles: frame color and frame width
    • Repeat rectangles: frame color and frame width

For some, the return of color will be greeted warmly, while others will prefer the ‘color-less’ look of Helix 6.2. Designers that wish to remove these properties from their collections, can currently only do so via AppleScript. (We expect to address this in a future release.)

In the case of command rectangles (buttons), where the background color is now supported for the first time, we have created a free AppleScript that can be used (while in Design Mode) to reset every button to the macOS default attributes. collection designers who would like a script to reset other rectangle types are encouraged to contact QSA ToolWorks technical support — we will create scripts for them as demand warrants.

See the Rectangle Styles in Helix 7.0 technote for more information on these rectangle style attributes.