>     On the whole I think the PowerPrint server is a worthwhile addition to
> Protel. It makes producing documentation quicker, easier and more complete
> than in the past. I do however have one small wish...
>     I would like to be able to print component designators and comments
> if they are hidden in the PCB file. Maybe a little further explaination is
> in order.
>     I normally print two overlay documents for each PCB. With the
> comment and designator fields unhidden:
>          - turn the designators off and the comments on in PPC and print
> Top Overlay to produce a value overlay
>         - turn the comments off and the designators on in PPC and print
> Top Overlay to produce a designator overlay.
>     This works well with one exception. When I come to generate the Gerber
> files for the PCB I need to do a global edit on all components in the file
> to turn off comments and designators. I do not like having to edit the
> supposedly completed file in order to produce a complete set of
> documentation.
>     So therefore I would like to hide both designators and comments in a
> file but have the PowerPrint server able to "see" them anyway.
>     Sorry for the long-winded explanation. I hope I have got the gist of
> problem across though.

No need to apologise for the length of your explanation, as you have
succeeded in making your desired outcome clear, and you might not have
accomplished that with a shorter description.

I certainly don't intend to knock you for what some might regard as a
"purist" approach to not modifying/editing a file's contents for
documentation/Gerber file creation purposes. But reading your above
explanation has resulted in me figuring out a method to achieve what you are
looking for, without ever having to modify a PCB file at all after
completing the design of this, and without requiring any changes to the
present capabilities of the Power Print Server.

Assuming that you have not used all of the Mechanical layers available for
other purposes, you should assign one of the Mechanical layers for holding
Designator and Comment strings. (If you also have components on the bottom
side of the PCB, you should use yet another Mechanical layer to hold the
Designator and Comment strings of those components.) The Designator and
Comment strings of *all* components should be placed in an *unhidden* state,
and then transferred to this layer (or layers if components are placed on
both sides of the PCB). (The global editing feature can be used to change
the associated layer of these strings. If a PCB contains components on both
sides, the strings of all Top side components should be moved to the "Top
String" mechanical layer, by selecting the option of "Same" for the "Layer"
Combobox in the "Attributes To Match By" column. Similarly, the strings of
all Bottom side components should be moved to the "Bottom String" mechanical
layer, by a similar global editing change.)

When it comes to producing Gerber files, neither the Designator nor Comment
strings will be included in the file(s) produced from the Silkscreen Overlay
layer(s), because these strings are located on (a) Mechanical layer(s)
instead (whose contents have not been selected for inclusion within the
Gerber files). But because those strings are in a visible state on the
Mechanical layer(s) concerned, they can still be depicted within printouts
that are produced by using the Power Print Server. The "(Top Side) Component
Designators" Printout (definition) includes the contents of the Top
Silkscreen layer and the "Top String" (mechanical) layer (and other
mechanical layers, such as the "Pcb Boundary" layer, as appropriate), and
the "Top String" layer is configured so that Designators are depicted but
not Comments. You can probably figure out from here how the "(Top Side)
Component Comments" Printout (definition), "Bottom Side Component
Designators" Printout (definition), and "Bottom Side Component Comments"
Printout (definition) should be configured.

Setting up the Mechanical layer(s) concerned, then transferring the
Designator and Comment strings to this (/these) layer(s), then configuring
the Printout definitions as required, will take a little bit more time. But
the amount of extra time concerned is not unduly excessive, and once you
have done this, it will not be necessary to further edit a file's contents
solely for the purposes of creating Gerber files and/or producing printouts
from the file.

However, I am still pleased that you have responded to my suggestion that
you submit your own comments on and suggested improvements for the Power
Print Server. My view on your suggestion is that the technique that I have
just described probably avoids the need for such an enhancement, or failing
that, reduces the merits for providing it. But in the event that it ever was
provided, then it should continue to remain possible to print neither
visible strings nor hidden strings, or to print visible strings but not
hidden strings. (As such, the enhancement would consist of providing yet
another option of being able to print both visible strings and hidden
strings. As such, ComboBoxes would be provided for "Displayed Designators",
"Hidden Designators", "Displayed Comments", and "Hidden Comments", in place
of the existing "Designators" and "Comments" ComboBoxes.)

I have recently noticed that John Haddy has also posted a message describing
the use of Mechanical layers. But consider this message as a confirmation of
his suggestion, and as a response to your message...

Geoff Harland.
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